The highs and lows of LSD
“With a remarkable restlessness and slight dizziness, I sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition. In a dreamlike state, I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic colours.”
This is the description of the first LSD trip taken by Albert Hofmann, the inventor of the drug, in 1943.
He initially developed LSD in 1938 on the premise that it may act as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant. Working as a chemist at Sandoz Laboratories (now Novartis) in Basel, Switzerland, Hofmann shelved the compound?- known as LSD-25?- after it had no obvious effects in mice. Five years later, while re-synthesising the drug, he was interrupted by the unusual activity described above.
Realising the symptoms must have occurred from inhalation or absorption of LSD-25, Hofmann took an oral dose of the chemical, estimating that 250 micrograms would be the threshold at which effects would occur. In reality, the threshold is closer to 20 micrograms. After 6 hours of positive and negative experiences, which involved thinking his neighbour was “an insidious witch”, the effects subsided.
“I was aware that LSD, with such properties, would be of use in pharmacology, in neurology, and especially in psychiatry,” Hofmann wrote in his biography.
Over the next 20 years, thousands of papers were published on the drug’s effects, including treatment for alcohol addiction and psychosis. Several positive outcomes were also reported for the treatment of autism, such as an increase in social behaviours manifested by increased eye-to-face contact (Behavioral Neuropsychiatry, vol 1, p 44).
Unfortunately many of the studies lacked proper experimental controls and presented largely descriptive data. The lack of long-term follow-up studies and a realistic placebo have been major limitations of the work to date.
The drug quickly leaked into the general population, which led to an investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration, and in 1970, LSD was classified as a drug of abuse with no medical value. Research into any therapeutic effects stopped.
Today, many researchers believe that LSD poses no risk to health when administered in a controlled environment and that the case for medicinal LSD should be reopened…….
New Scientist - Sep. 04, 2010
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