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Overview of Psychedelics: Nomenclature, Effects and Mechanisms of Action


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What Are Psychedelic Substances?

Definition and Nomenclature


The term psychedelic was originally coined by Humphry Osmond, a psychiatrist who pioneered research in psychedelics in the 1950s, 1960s and beyond. In a correspondence with the noted author and philosopher Aldous Huxley, Osmond crafted the term psychedelic as a combination of the Greek words psyche (for mind or soul) and deluon (meaning to make visible, or reveal).[1] As for a formal definition of psychedelic substances, none is commonly agreed upon. Longtime psychoactive drug pioneer, David Nichols defines the substances as follows:[2]

Psychedelics (serotonergic hallucinogens) are powerful psychoactive substances that alter perception and mood and affect numerous cognitive processes. 

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