Join our free Psychedelic Workshop Pick a date

LSD ReTreAt Vs PsIloCyBin ReTreAt: A CoMpArIsOn


We understand that it may not be easy to determine what kind of retreat and which specific psychedelic substance is the right choice for you. Especially when you’re new in the world of psychedelics. If you are looking for personal growth and self-exploration, there are various options. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the key differentiators between LSD retreats and psilocybin retreats. We will be focusing on the effects, approaches, safety, recent scientific research and how to determine which option aligns best with your personal wishes and requirements.

What is LSD?

LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) is a semisynthetic compound which was first synthesized in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann at Sandoz laboratories in Basel. Its psychoactive effects were discovered in 1943 when Hofmann revisited a relatively uninteresting specimen. 

He was the first person to experience its psychoactive effects after unintentionally ingesting an unknown amount. This momentous discovery is celebrated annually on April 19th, which is known as ‘bicycle day’, as Hofmann’s first LSD induced psychedelic experience took full effect while he was riding his bicycle back home. Must have been quite a ride. 

After this, LSD was distributed by Sandoz, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, for a number of years as an investigational drug for psychiatric research. LSD-assisted psychotherapy was primarily explored for treating alcoholism, neurosis, and psychosomatic disorders.

What’s the difference between LSD and psilocybin?

While LSD is a synthetic compound, psilocybin is entirely organic. At Spinoza, we deeply appreciate the fact that psilocybin is natural. It comes from our own Dutch soil, from the earth, where it is part of an intelligent mycelium network that benefits nature’s wellbeing by distributing nutrients between soil, plants and trees. 

It is a natural part of what basically forms the foundation of every ecosystem on our planet. It facilitates life. A slight disadvantage of its natural origin however is that the amount of psilocybin in some truffles can vary, which causes the effects to be slightly less predictable when compared to LSD.

Psilocybin offers a gentle introduction into the psychedelic realm. In general, the experience comes up in waves, gently going back and forth during the entry phase, which allows the mind to slowly adjust, surrender and let go. Another significant benefit is that a psychedelic journey induced by psilocybin can be divided into four phases. This makes monitoring our ceremony participants easier, as it is clear to our guides where people are in their journey and in which state of mind.

What are the different effects of LSD and Psilocybin?

The effects of LSD include intense visual hallucinations, enhanced sensory perception, and an expansive mindset conducive to creativity. LSD and psilocybin are classic psychedelic substances that can alter perception, mood, and thought processes. Both of these substances have been used for therapeutic purposes, but psilocybin has been found to have a safer and more controlled effect compared to LSD. 

While psilocybin’s effects typically last around 4-6 hours, LSD is known for its longer lasting effects, which can lead up to 12 hours. LSD can create a more intense and overwhelming experience compared to psilocybin, which is generally gentler and more introspective.

Psilocybin is a natural substance which is derived from certain species of fungi or mycelium. It can offer a more organic and introspective experience. In general, the experience comes up in waves, gently going back and forth during the entry phase, which allows the mind to slowly adjust, surrender and let go. It fosters deep introspection, enhanced emotional insight, and a sense of interconnectedness with yourself and nature. 

Which retreat is right for me?

The most obvious obstacle in choosing between an LSD retreat and a psilocybin retreat is formed by LSD’s legal status. Its consumption, possession and sale is almost entirely forbidden throughout the world. This makes it difficult, yet not impossible to find an organization that offers a safe and responsible program that includes LSD.  

interested IN OUR psychedelic RETREAT?

Choosing between an LSD retreat and a psilocybin retreat furthermore depends on personal preferences, intentions, and readiness for the experience. If you are seeking an extended, profound, and visually immersive journey, an LSD retreat may be the right choice. LSD’s potential for expansive thinking and lasting effects may attract people who are interested in profound personal insights and spiritual experiences.

Are there any safety concerns?

Safety is paramount in any psychedelic retreat setting, which is why both LSD and psilocybin programs naturally prioritize participants well-being. LSD has been associated with a higher risk of adverse reactions, such as anxiety and paranoia during the experience, as the intensity and duration of its effects are considerably higher when compared to psilocybin. 

As LSD and psilocybin are fundamentally different substances, they each require a different approach. An LSD retreat should offer a structured program led by experienced facilitators. These programs typically span multiple days and consist of carefully planned sessions with highly specific dosages, depending on the intention, set and setting. 

Psilocybin retreats should have enough skilled facilitators present who ensure that participants are adequately prepared and supported throughout the journey. Participants are encouraged  – and required – to disclose any relevant medical conditions and medications to ensure their safety and well-being.

Scientific research  

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in LSD and other psychedelics for their potential health benefits. Some recent studies on LSD have focused on its therapeutic effects in treating mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction. These studies have generally used controlled settings and employed psychological support to maximize safety and effectiveness.

Studies into LSD and serotonin hallucinogens have demonstrated to be safe if used at low-doses in controlled clinical setting, providing dramatic reductions of anxiety and depression in terminal patients, improving the quality of life and overall well-being. Below you find links to some of the research into the field:

Another notable study is the “Therapeutic Mechanisms of LSD in Mood Disorders: A Comprehensive Review” published in 2020. This review analyzed existing preclinical and clinical research on LSD and highlighted its potential therapeutic mechanisms, including its effects on the serotonin system and the modulation of brain connectivity.

It is important to note that despite the promising findings, the research on LSD and its therapeutic potential is still in its early stages. Studies have typically been conducted with small sample sizes and under controlled conditions.

As the general interest in psychedelics continues to grow, efforts are being made to conduct larger and more rigorous studies to further investigate the therapeutic potential of LSD and other psychedelics.

Recently, a small pilot study of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy with advanced-stage cancer patients in the United States obtained promising results (Grob et al., 2011), with several additional studies currently in process at Johns Hopkins and New York University. This is the first controlled study of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in more than 40 years.

Psycholytic Therapy: Grof’s research into LSD-assisted psychotherapy

Stanislav Grof is a is a Czech psychiatrist and one of the pioneers of psychedelic therapy and transpersonal psychology. Grof conducted extensive research on LSD during the 1960s and 1970s, exploring its therapeutic potential and its effects on consciousness.

Grof’s research primarily focused on using LSD as a tool for psychotherapy and personal exploration. He developed a specific approach known as “LSD-assisted psychotherapy” or “psycholytic therapy,” which aimed to facilitate deep psychological exploration and healing through the use of LSD in a controlled and supportive environment.

One of Grof’s notable contributions is his exploration of what he called “non-ordinary states of consciousness” induced by LSD. He developed a comprehensive framework known as the “LSD psychotherapy model” or “holotropic model of consciousness,” which suggests that these altered states have therapeutic potential and can provide access to profound insights, emotional healing, and spiritual experiences.

interested IN OUR psychedelic RETREAT?

View all articles
PeYoTe ReTreAt Vs PsIloCyBin ReTreAt: A CoMpArIsOn

How do Peyote and Psilocybin differ? Effects, safety and legality.