The science mystery behind a psychedelic HIV/AIDS drug

Some patients taking antiretroviral medications for HIV/AIDS receive the efavirenz, marketed under the commercial names Sustiva and Stocrin. According to a report in the LA Times by Melissa Healy, it has an "LSD-like interaction" with brain receptors governing serotonin activity.
That may explain why roughly half of patients taking efavirenz at the prescribed dose have reported neuropsychiatric side effects that include suicidal depression, night terrors, hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis and delusions. And it may also explain why efavirenz tablets are reportedly being ground up and smoked by drug abusers looking for a hallucinogenic high.



  1. Welp, I don’t know which LSD you’ve been using, but somebody robbed you blind.  Did this article fall through time from 1953, or something?  Suicidal depression is not ‘a hallucinogenic high’.

    1. Yeah… I was just reading ‘The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide’ earlier, which has a boatload of personal testimonials and data from LSD users going back forty years, and the effects they’re describing are not LSD-like.

  2. Well yay!  Suicidal depression, night terrors, hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis and delusions?  Who wouldn’t smoke up some of that?

  3. Yay! I get suicidal depression and night terrors for free! Be jealous, y’all…

    But seriously, how are ANY of those things related to LSD? Sounds like bog standard side effects of most SSRI.

    1. There have been claims that LSD can help with depression in the past, but I don’t know how well that has been researched.

      In any case, if a person has certain mental illnesses, especially bipolar disorder, playing around with the neurotransmitters can certainly have an impact. Anybody who has gone to see a doctor to get help with depression will know that the doctor will not prescribe an SSRI until they can positively rule out bipolar disorder.

      1. “Anybody who has gone to see a doctor to get help with depression will know that the doctor will not prescribe an SSRI until they can positively rule out bipolar disorder.”

        You must have better doctors in your area. I’m not bipolar actually, but honestly I should probably have been paid for my participation in medical research well into my twenties.

        1. I don’t know if it is malpractice to give an SSRI to a person prior to determining if they are bipolar, but it might be close. This is why, even though I’m not a big fan of psychotropic medications, I think a person needs to see an actual psychiatrist and not a generic MD or psychiatric nurse practitioner. I don’t know if it was a family practice MD or psychiatrist that prescribed your medications, but generally psychiatrists are the only ones who from my experience know all of the risks. I can’t count how many doctors and APNPs who didn’t even know what brain zaps were, for example.

      2. It was an exciting field of research until the US banned it. The clinical uses of LSD for mental illness and depression is well documented.

  4. Having been on the drug for close to 10 years now (I started on Sustiva when it was an emerging “cocktail” – back in my day we had to take 4 pills!!) I call bullshit.

    Yes the first month was rough – I would be in a waking dream state most nights – but the symptoms went away.

  5. AMBUSH CURES HIV/AIDSApostle Mishe Sir / Madam,           For the past 11 years I have been studying and researching Ambush, a Palm plant extract that is effective in curing HIV. 
     Name of Plant;  Palm Name of ingredient: Ambush  Molecular weight   640(similar to the sequisulfides) Where found: In and around the areas of South Florida where uranium waste was dumped in the 1920’s from the nuclear programme that has now leaked out into the water system. A specie of the PALM plant has picked up this waste to be the valuable AMBUSH.   Chemical compd; Uranium isotope (cus.n)  Grayish white soft metallic compound NOT found in chemistry books. Uses: Antiviral DRUG..Ambush  Found to “KILL” the HIV virus when given in a dose of 60 ml three times daily for 21 days at a known concentration. Mode of action..  Ambush kills the HIV virus by causing the viral shell to rupture . In the lymph system Ambush produces “natural radioactivity” that “kills” the virus that ‘hides’ in the lymph system . This crosses the blood-brain barrier since the ‘patients’ claim that they are able to see,hear and think more clearly after taking Ambush. Viral Loads…This decreases from 100,000 to ‘undetectable’ in 21 days….. but I have had patients VL go to ‘undetectable ‘ in 5 days. SIDE EFFECTS / EFFECTS 1. After 5 to 7 days of treatment, patients MAY complain of HEADACHES.2. After 5 to 7 days  male patients experience an increase in erection.3. Stool becomes soft and REGULAR4. Patients c/o being WARM in the trunk area mainly at night when lying down. Toxicology……Before administering to any person a complete toxicological analysis was done to include, arsenic, barbiturates and NO KNOWN poisons or harmful substances to mankind were found. Systems/Organs Skin…becomes clean, smooth and free of eczema or other say they have small eczema patches in the first week that go away by the third week.  Excretion    Since this is a very LARGE molecule it is excreted relatively unchanged via urine and feces. SEROREVERSION     After 149 days the patents revert to being HIV NEGATIVE after finishing a course in Ambush hence no one goes public to say they WERE HIV positive.
    Pharmacology of Ambush on the GUT of an end stage AIDS person.   It is known that late stage AIDS patients posses a high level of the virus in the GUT which should include the entire GI tract from stomach to rectum. Here the virus is found in the lining and this is difficult for ARV’s because these are the areas needed by the ARV’s to enter the blood supply. There is not a high enough blood level returning back to the stomach lining hence the virus remains in high concentration.   This causes the person’s appetite to decrease which causes a spiraling downhill of the body.   When Ambush is taken in the liquid form, it is slightly basic and forms a stable compound in the acidic stomach.The Ambush compound is close to the stomach lining to exert the “natural radioactivity” effect which kills the virus in the stomach. Here the entire mid section feels very warm and sometimes feverish. The infected stomach lining with the dead areas is then passed out as a black slime in the stool. This usually happens about day 4 while on an Ambush regime of 60 ml three times daily for 21 days, wherein the person has a large bowel movement.   After the bowel movement, the person becomes extremely hungry and eats TWO to THREE times a normal serving. Here I usually recommend cornmeal porridge with butter or cooking oil as a prevention against malnutrition and add a daily multivitamin. By day 10 the stomach has recovered and the person eats normally.
    The challenge is to find a Virologist, or Biologist of HIV Researcher who is willing to put some Ambush in a Human culture medium infected with the HIV virus, incubate with proper controls and report their findings to the world.  
    More info is at  or Thank you for your interest and we will be happy to send you samples and answer any and all questions. 
    Apostle Shada Misheapostleshadamishe@gmail.comDallas Texas,1-972 294 5161

  6. Sigh. What a way to be featured on BB. Yeah, I ‘m the M Gatch that is first author on this article, which by-the-by, I didn’t find out about until after it had been submitted. I had very little influence on the writing–I just did the discrimination studies. The overall science is good–efavirenz does produce a very, very weak LSD-like effect and does act at serotonin receptors like LSD. However, the whole point of the study–which the science writer and the pharmacologist who led the project seemed to miss, was that if anyone really was taking efavirenz for its psychoactive effect (and there really isn’t much support for that beyond a couple anecdotal reports) that they would be pretty disappointed.
    So Mark and Boris and Ted pretty much got it right.

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