LSD Study Breaks 40 Years of Research Taboo
On March 4, 2014, the results of the first study of the therapeutic use of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in humans in over 40 years were published online in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Sponsored by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in 12 subjects with advanced-stage illness found statistically significant reductions in anxiety following two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions.
SANTA CRUZ, CALIF. – Today, the results of the first study of the therapeutic use of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in humans in over 40 years were published online in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.
Sponsored by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in 12 subjects found statistically significant reductions in anxiety associated with advanced stage illness following two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions. The results also indicate that LSD-assisted psychotherapy can be safely administered in these subjects, and justify further research.
“The study was a success in the sense that we did not have any noteworthy adverse effects,” reports Principal Investigator Peter Gasser, M.D., a private practice psychiatrist in Solothurn, Switzerland. “All participants reported a personal benefit from the treatment, and the effects were stable over time.”
There is considerable previous human experience using LSD in the context of psychotherapy. From the 1950s through the early 1970s, psychiatrists, therapists, and researchers administered LSD to thousands of people as a treatment for alcoholism, as well as for anxiety and depression in people with advanced stage cancer.
“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,” says Peter, an Austrian subject who participated in the study.
The study was approved by SwissMedic in December 2007. The first subject was enrolled on April 23, 2008, and the last long-term follow-up interview was conducted on August 8, 2012. Eleven of the 12 subjects had not taken LSD prior to participating in the study.
“This study is historic and marks a rebirth of investigation into LSD-assisted psychotherapy,” says Rick Doblin, Ph.D., MAPS Executive Director. “The positive results and evidence of safety clearly show why additional, larger studies are needed.”
Founded in 1986, MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. The <i>Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease</i> is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.