What Is LSD?
Lysergic acid Diethylamide is a semi-synthetic psychedelic drug which is currently illegal in the United States despite the fact that it is neither addictive nor likely to cause brain damage. Simply known as “acid” on the streets this potent psychedelic drug is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. LSD or “acid” was labeled as such by the Controlled Substances Act because of its high potential for abuse, and its undocumented effectiveness and safety as a viable tool for the treatment of various illnesses and disorders under medical supervision.
In other words, in the 1970’s scientific research into the medicinal uses of LSD was limited and hence the drug was labeled as nothing more than a dangerous recreational drug and made highly illegal. However, recent scientific studies, conducted both in the United States and Europe, have shined new light on the effectiveness of this psychedelic drug in the treatment of such psychological and physical ailments as alcoholism, anxiety, and cluster headaches.
Historical Uses of LSD
In 1947 LSD was manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories as a drug with a vast number of psychiatric uses. In the 1950’s the use of LSD as a psychedelic drug was widespread and so widely excepted that the CIA began to look into its use as a “mind control” agent and began distributing it amongst young servicemen and CIA recruits. The political firestorm that ensued as a result of LSD becoming the drug of choice of the youth culture of the 1960’s is what led to its ultimate prohibition.
Health Benefits of LSD
In the 1960’s there were more than 700 medical studies conducted on the benefits of LSD-assisted psychotherapy to help reduce anxiety and the fear of death in patients with terminal cancer. These studies also showed LSD’s effectiveness to treat alcoholism and reduce the symptoms of several difficult-to-teat psychiatric illnesses as well as heighten creativity, problem-solving skills, and spiritual awareness. However, these studies came to ab abrupt end in the 1970’s when LSD was made illegal.
Today, LSD is making a comeback within the scientific community as more and more organizations look into its medicinal properties. Prominent organizations such as the Beckley Foundation, MAPS, Heffter Research Institute and the Albert Hofmann Foundation have begun to fund, encourage and coordinate research into the medicinal and spiritual uses of LSD.
The LSD “Trip” And Alcoholism Treatment: The most recent study regarding the use of LSD in alcoholism treatment was conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and published in the March 2012 issue of Journal of Psychopharmacology. (Source PDF)
According to the findings of this study about 58% of the participants, who were alcoholics, became less likely to relapse due to a spiritual sense of self acceptance they experienced while on LSD. This spiritual “trip” led them to more honestly confront the issues that caused their alcoholism and take the steps necessary to overcome their addiction.
LSD And End-of-Life Anxiety In Cancer Patients: According to MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) “There has been substantial research demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of LSD for treating anxiety in cancer patients, but much of this research was conducted over 35 years ago. MAPS is developing new research protocols that meet modern drug development standards. Our pilot LSD and psilocybin studies will be used to guide the development of future treatment methodologies”.
In September 2008 the FDA approved a clinical trial on the use of LSD to treat anxiety in terminally ill cancer patients for the first time since the 1960’s. Today, MAPS is conducting LSD trials in Switzerland. If these trials can prove the effectiveness of LSD, Rick Doblin, the Director of MAPS is fully confident that in 10 years we will begin to see LSD prescriptions for the treatment of anxiety.
LSD Used For The Treatment of Cluster Headaches: Cluster headaches are also known as “suicide headaches” because of their painful nature. ClusterBusters, a nonprofit advocacy group, designed to help those suffering from cluster headaches, is currently funding a Harvard University study which is testing the effectiveness of a modified LSD capsule in the long-term cure of cluster headaches.
According to the ClusterBusters website, “In 2006, Dr. John Halpern and Dr. Andrew Sewell reported to the National Headache Foundation Research Summit on their case review study, later published in the journal Neurology. They reviewed reports from Clusterheads and found over 80 percent reported significant relief using tryptamines. These results confirmed several hundred anecdotal reports of treating cluster headaches with tryptamines. A review of these reports shows about 67 percent of chronic cluster headache sufferers and about 75 percent of episodic sufferers report significant relief. These reports were mostly collected from Internet discussion groups and internet survey forms; they aren’t scientifically valid, but provide dramatic testimony from cluster headache sufferers finding relief”.
Photo courtesy of: Howard Dickins