Drugs like LSD and Ecstasy could help terminally ill

Drugs like LSD and Ecstasy ‘could help terminally ill’

Psychedelic drugs such as LSD and Ecstasy could be used to help patients with terminal illness and mental disorders, if scientific trials prove successful.

By Graham Tibbetts
Published in The Telegraph
at 12:51PM BST on 12 Aug 2008


Little research has been carried out into the potential benefits of hallucinogens since they came to prominence in the 1960s.

But scientists are now beginning to explore their capabilities in relation to a wide range of illnesses and conditions.

The first clinical trial involving LSD since the 1970s began in Switzerland in June with the aim of using “psychedelic psychotherapy” to help terminally ill patients come to terms with imminent death to improve the quality of their remaining life.

Eight subjects will receive 200 micrograms of LSD – enough to induce a powerful psychedelic experience – and four will be given 20 micrograms. They will then be assessed for anxiety levels, quality of life and pain levels.

Researchers are also investigating Ecstasy, the street name for MDMA, as a possible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The active ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, has shown promising results in helping people who are dying from cancer.

A study by Charles Grob, professor of psychiatry at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre, involved giving a psilocybin treatment to 12 patients. One, Pamela Sakuda, who has colorectal cancer and had lost hope, reported reaching an “epiphany” when she realised during the treatment that her fear of the disease was destroying the time she had left.
The research, which has yet to be published, follows work at the John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, in which 36 healthy volunteers aged 24 to 64 were given psilocybin then observed in the laboratory.
When they were interviewed again 14 months later 58 per cent rated the experience among the five most personally meaningful of their lives and 64 per cent said it had increased their well-being.

Prof Roland Griffiths, who published the study, told the Guardian: “The working hypothesis is that if psilocybin or LSD can occasion these experiences of great personal meaning and spiritual significance … then it would allow [patients with terminal illnesses] hopefully to face their own demise completely differently – to restructure some of the psychological angst that so often occurs concurrently with severe disease.”

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The telegraph.co.uk (Permalink) published a straightforward article about the resurgence of psychedelic research. Graham Tibbet’s piece Drugs like LSD and Ecstasy could help terminally ill, discusses the MAPS sponsored LSD study in Switzerland, MDMA/PTSD research, Grobs Harbor-UCLA psilocybin research, and Grifiths psilocybin research.