Originally appeared at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1304126/Psychedelic-party-drugs–LSD-ketamine–combat-depression.html?ito=feeds-newsxml LSD could be used to lift depression and treat cancer, doctors said today. Magic mushrooms and ketamine, a horse tranquilliser turned ‘party drug’, could also feature in the ‘psychedelic psychotherapy’ cabinet. Swiss experts said that advances in our understanding of the brain and of the drugs themselves make it time to look past the negative effects of the substances and investigate how they could benefit people with hard-to-treat conditions. The drugs could be used as a kind of catalyst, the University of Zurich researchers said, helping patients to alter their perception of problems or pain levels. Counselling would follow. ‘Psychedelics can give patients a new perspective – particularly when things like suppressed memories come up – and then they can work with that experience,’ said Dr Franz Vollenweider, who published a paper on the issue in Nature Neuroscience journal. Trials suggest that LSD, banned around the world since the Sixties and Seventies, helps sufferers of cancer and other terminal illnesses come to terms with their fate. It and other illegal substances also appear to act on brain circuits and chemicals involved in depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. In trials, some patients have experienced rapid improvements in their condition. ‘These are serious, debilitating, life-shortening illnesses, and as the currently available treatments have high failure rates, psychedelics might offer alternative treatment strategies that could improve the well-being of patients and the associated economic burden on patients and society,’ said the researchers. But if doctors were to use them to treat psychiatric patients in future, it would be important to keep doses of the drugs low, and ensure they were given over a relatively short time period in combination with therapy sessions. ‘The idea is that it would be very limited, maybe several sessions over a few months, not a long-term thing like other types of medication,’ said Dr Vollenweider. British experts urged people not to self-medicate, saying the drugs had been made illegal for a reason. Professor Hamid Ghodse, an expert in the psychiatry of addiction and former president of the United Nation’s drugs control agency, said: ‘Proper and good scientific research should not be discouraged but there needs to be a good deal of caution in the use of drugs that have been proved to have a very high risk in patients.’ LSD was discovered by accident by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann in studying the medicinal properties of a crop fungus. He absorbed a trace of the compound through his skin and experienced what he described as ‘restlessness and dizziness’. Three days later, he took a bigger dose before cycling home. He wrote in his journal: ‘Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. I was cycling, cycling, but time seemed to stand still.’ After about six hours, the experience became fun. ‘I began to enjoy this wonderful play of colours and forms, which it really was a pleasure to observe. Then I went to sleep and the next day I was fine,’ he wrote. Initially hailed as a wonder drug for psychoanalysis, its cheapness and ease of manufacture left it open to abuse and it was soon banned around the world, after a number of people under its influence lept to their deaths pretending they could fly. ‘Instead of a wonder child, LSD soon became my problem child,’ said Dr Hofmann who died two years ago aged 102. An article discussing the potential healing properties of psychedelic drugs such as ketamine, LSD, & psilocybin in peope suffering from depression and cancer.