LSD and ecstasy bend minds in Basel

LSD and ecstasy bend minds in Basel

Published on Monday, 17 March, 2008, 16:14
By World Radio Switzerland – Geneva
Written By Vincent Landon

Psychedelic drugs like LSD and ecstasy are the subject of an international conference taking place in Basel later this week. About 2,000 participants will be discussing their use, abuse and cultural significance. And guest of honour will be 102-year-old Albert Hoffman, the discoverer of LSD. World Radio Switzerlands Vincent Landon has more.

Consciousness Change, a challenge of the 21st Century. Thats the title of the World Psychedelic Forum taking place in Basel. It comes just two years after a first symposium attracted huge international interest, says organiser Dieter Hagenbach

HAGENBACH: What we found out after the last conference is that there is an enormous interest in information about psychedelic drugs, and we are going to cover and give a lot of information about these substances the use, the misuse and the history.

Psychotherapist Peter Gasser from Solothurn is carrying out trials with LSD on patients suffering from advanced-stage cancer and other terminal illnesses. Results are expected next year. Swiss medical authorities gave approval for the trials last year, making it the first government-approved study of LSD in over 35 years.

GASSER: What we are hoping is that the level of anxiety and distress will improve under the effect of LSD, and thats what we are measuring.

His colleague Peter Oehen from Biberist is conducing a trial with ecstasy in patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He says the authorities have started to look more favourably on carefully designed studies.

OEHEN: Theres a kind of renaissance going on and if you have a sound protocol, then ethic committees are willing to give permission to examine psychedelics for certain medical conditions.

The conference will be a trip down memory lane for Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann who discovered LSD in 1938. Hofmann, who celebrated his 102nd birthday in January will be guest of honour. The reason for his excellent health is even more mind-bending than LSD. Heres Dieter Hagenbach again.

HAGENBACH: Most people think that it has to do with his discovery the wonder drug but when people ask him about the secret of his longevity, he says: Every morning I have two raw eggs in my muesli and a glass of cider.

LSD was once a well-respected treatment for a variety of psychiatric disorders. But its widespread use as a recreational drug eventually led to a worldwide ban at the end of the 1960s. Now the medical profession is rediscovering its virtues.

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World Radio Switzerland aired a segment about the World Psychedelic Forum in Basel. The segment featured conference organizer Dieter Hagenbach and MAPS sponsored researcher Dr. Peter Gasser.