Abbie Hofmann was jubilant in the final months before his death last year, at the age of 102, upon learning shroom capsules that the first scientific research on LSD in decades was beginning. What is the possibilities LSD will one day become the drug of choice for psychedelic psychotherapy? That remains in question because there may be better solutions. Some doctors prefer psilocybin over LSD because it is gentler and generally less intense says Charles S. Grob, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles. Psychedelic psychotherapy is being used in conducted trials to test their effects on anxiety in terminal cancer patients.
When Hofmann first discovered LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide-2.5) in the 1940s, he continuously asserted its potential benefits as an invaluable supplement in psychotherapy and spiritual practices. New studies, picking up where investigators in the 1950s and 1970s left off, are exploring the possible therapeutic effects of LSD on the intense anxiety encountered by most patients with life threatening diseases, such as cancer. In addition to LSD, other researchers have studied psilocybin (the active ingredient found in magic mushrooms), MDMA (Ecstasy), and many other psychedelic compounds for their existential anxiety properties.
The LSD studies are being conducted with the approval of the Swiss medical authorities by Peter Gasser, a physician at the Swiss Medical Society for Psycholytic Therapy. Gasser, whose study began in 2008, is almost entirely funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a U.S. nonprofit that sponsors research with the goal of making psychedelics and marijuana into prescription drugs. Finding eligible candidates have been difficult for Gasser, therefore research findings are progressing slowly. Patients receiving the psychedelic therapy reports they were aided emotionally and none experienced panic reactions, but did overcome anxious feelings, and were aided in their reentry into regular life.