Forty years after LSD was considered illegal in the United States because of its “increased non-medical use,” one study brings the psychedelic drug back into the spotlight. The analysis published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease offers new insight with regard to the drug’s effect on people’s anxiety issues when confronting death. Conducted in Switzerland, in the office of a psychiatrist near Bern, the research involved 12 people who agreed to take the hallucinogenic drug during therapy sessions. Results, although insignificant for a larger scale, prove that the anxiety can be diminished.
A team of psychiatrists from Switzerland performed a study and brought LSD back into the spotlight with the statement that it could work wonders with terminal cancer, because people usually suffer from anxiety when facing the end of their lives. Many of the subjects involved in the research died within the year of the trial, but experts say that their anxiety was less intense and the fear of dying slowly disappeared. However, Doctor Peter Gasser, the one who conducted the therapy is not the only person to believe in the positive effects of LSD. Neal M. Goldsmith, , Ph.D., author of the book Psychedelic Healing is certain that, as soon as society decides to reintegrate this drug, everything will be better. Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies foundation stated that LSD-assisted therapy can bring “permanent changes in people’s attitudes and in their brains.”
The Hallucinogenic Drug Under the Microscope
Psychiatrists bring the psychedelic drug back into the spotlight with the news that it could work wonders with terminal cancer, but Johns Hopkins University, Harvard Medical School and New York University’s Psilocybin Cancer Project are currently conducting studies of their own in order to conclude whether LSD genuinely has a positive effect on cancer patients’ state of mind and anxiety problems.
Although the studies have not been finalized, Doctor Gasser insists that the sessions are under close observation and, after the effect of the drug passes, patients would sleep on a couch in an office, with a therapist or assistant present the entire time. The private practice psychiatrist stated that “the study was a success in the sense that we did not have any noteworthy adverse effects.”
The study carried out by Doctor Gasser began with two or more sessions in order to get acquainted before taking LSD, then the trial involved two drug-assisted courses of therapy, with a pause of a couple of weeks.
The result showed that, after approximately two months of therapy on a weekly basis, the eight patients who were offered full doses of LSD improved their anxiety issues by about 20 percent, while the four subjects who received a much smaller dose got worse. Doctor Gasser, along with study co-authors Doctor Doblin, Rudolf Brenneisen of the University of Bern and Dominique Holstein of University Hospital Zürich believe that, although the study was too small to be conclusive, the results represent a beginning for using LSD as a medicinal drug.
The 12 people who accepted to be part of the study also saw the experiment as a positive experience. One 67-year-old man recalls that he saw his estranged father who has been dead for many years nodding with approval and one other patient clearly stated that the research helped him come back to life and expressed his gratitude while uttering that it is “better to be alive than to merely function.” Although other psychiatrists have not issued any conclusions yet, the study performed by the team of researchers from Switzerland brings LSD back into the spotlight and shows that it might diminish the anxiety which occurs while accepting that life has come to an end.
By Gabriela Motroc