Getting high with a little help from your friends was a real trip in the 1960’s. This was not the intention of Albert Hofmann, the creator of the hallucinogenic drugs LSD and psilocybin. He’d hoped to explore its therapeutic uses. But they are finally back in the hands of the medical community, picking up where they left off.
In 1930’s Dr. Hofmann accidentally learned of LSD’s incredible side effects when he absorbed a small amount through his fingertips. He described a not unpleasant intoxicated-like feeling characterized by uninterrupted streams of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes and an intense, kaleidoscope of colors.
It was inevitable that this fantastical mind-altering drug became the center of the 1960’s drug-driven counterculture. To Hofmann’s dismay, it was placed into a restrictive category in the 1970’s by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to this month’s Scientific American, Albert Hofmann finally celebrated the first scientific research in decades one month before his death at the age of 102. Using psychedelic drugs for medical applications, such as treating alcoholism and alleviating intense anxiety for patients with life threatening diseases, are once again being explored.
The British-based Beckley Foundation is funding and collaborating on such a study at the University of California Berkley. They are assessing how these drugs may foster creativity and investigating the changes in neural activity that go along with altered conscious experiences, using Hofmann’s psilocybin instead of LSD.
“We chose psilocybin over LSD because it’s gentler and generally less intense,” says Dr. Charles S. Grob, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles who conducted a trial to test the drug’s effects on anxiety in cancer patients.
“It’s associated with fewer panic reactions and less chance of paranoia and, most important, over the past half a century psilocybin has attracted far less negative publicity and carries far less cultural baggage than LSD.”
According to Vitals.com, Dr. Grob received his medical degree at the State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine and completed his specialty training at John Hopkins Hospital.
There had been similar experiments with LSD dating back over 35 years ago, but researchers are basically starting from scratch. LSD is still a trip, but navigated by a well programmed GPS that must meet strict drug protocols and standards.
October 27, 2009