Decades after LSD and ecstasy were banned, therapists are tuning in again
November 16, 1938, Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist working at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, was attempting to create a stimulant when he synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) instead. The substance excited test animals, but it wasn’t the circulatory system stimulant Sandoz had hoped for. Hofmann set LSD aside until five years later, when he took another look and accidentally absorbed a small dose through his fingertips and experienced a radical shift in consciousness.
After experimenting further Hofmann concluded the drug would be ideal for psychotherapeutic use, and Sandoz began sending doses of LSD and another psychedelic, psilocybin, to clinics and universities across the world. A promising decade of research began, leading to breakthroughs in understanding the brain’s neurochemistry and how therapists might effectively treat mental illness. In 1960 Sandoz sent psychedelics to a charismatic Harvard psychologist named Timothy Leary.
The rest is history. Within a decade, LSD was illegal in most parts of the world, and psychedelic research, despite its early promising results, was shut down altogether.
But now, 50 years after LSD was first banned, psychedelics are making a comeback.
Across the country, people are turning on, their neurons firing the opening salvos of a psychedelic renaissance. Silicon Valley engineers are taking microdoses of LSD at work as an alternative to Adderall. Religious organizations are having their use of psychedelics validated in the court of law.
Most importantly, the FDA and DEA are approving psychedelic studies for the first time in decades, enabling researchers to examine the efficacy of psychedelics in treating a host of mental illnesses, from anxiety and depression to PTSD and addiction. The findings are, as one researcher put it, “mind blowing.”
Same as it ever was.