First LSD Study in More Than 40 Years Finds Important Therapeutic Potential
There is no doubt that new doors of discovery are opened by scientific study, but on occasion it renews interest in studies that were closed long ago. On March 4, 2014, results obtained from the first controlled medical trial of LSD in more than 40 years were published by experimental psychiatristsin Santa Cruz, California.
Published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, the study found evidence that LSD decreases the anxiety levels of individuals coping with life-threatening illnesses, when administered in a medically-based therapeutic environment. The sample size was small, only 12 people participated, but the findings present convincing justification for further study of this illegal, and often stigmatized, drug.
Rick Doblin stated in the form of a news release,“This study is historic and marks a rebirth of investigationinto LSD-assisted psychotherapy.”Theexecutive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which sponsored thestudy,continued by saying“The positive results and evidence of safety clearly show why additional, larger studies are needed.”
WHEN RESEARCH COMES TO A SUDDEN STOP
The fact that lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, can havetherapeutic benefitshas beenknownfor decades. The first studies of the chemical substance, conducted in 1949, were performed as a way to stimulate mental illness. However, researchers soonrealized that the drug had beneficial effects.
Over 1,000 studies had been published by 1965 regarding thetherapeuticusefulness of LSD. It was used to treat alcoholism. In multiple studies completed in the1960s,the drug wasfoundto decrease depression, anxiety, and pain, when used in combination with therapy, in cancer patients. Other psychedelics, such as hallucinogenic mushrooms, also demonstrated similar benefits.
However, the United States outlawed LSD in 1966 due to the soaring amounts of recreational use. This brought LSD research to a halt, despite the promising results it had shown.
REVISITING THE PAST
The recent study confirms many of the findings from 40 years ago.
Researchers sought out 12 patients who were dealing with anxiety resulting from life-threatening illnesses. Random selection was used to determine the eight patients that would receive drug-free psychotherapy sessions, as well as two LSD-assisted sessions conducted 2 to 3 weeks apart. The four remaining patients served as the control group and were administered a placebo during therapy. LSD helps stimulate a deep psychedelic state. This enables the participants to enter what is described as an emotionally intensified dream-like state.
Peter, an Austrian subject who partook in the survey said,“My LSD experience brought back some lost emotions and ability to trust, lots of psychological insights, and a timeless moment when the universe didn’t seem like a trap, but like a revelation of utter beauty.”
Follow-up was conducted two months later. Researchers found a statistically significant reduction in state anxiety- heightened emotions that arise in response to danger or fear- faced by patients who weregiven LSD therapy. The complete opposite occurred in patients that had been placed in the placebo group. Their state anxiety actually intensified.
A FUTURE FOR LSD
The authors of the study are quick to point out that is simply a preliminary investigation completed with an extremely small sample size. Therefore, the results are far from definitive.
Rather, the study’s authors hope to encourage other researchers to look past the stigma linked to LSD and explore other potential medical applications of the drug.
Credits: This Article was originally featured on: Blogs.DiscoverMagazine