The Therapeutic Acid Test
Returning from its 35-year exile, the clinical study of LSD is making a long-awaited comeback. Dr. Peter Gasser will be leading the Swiss study, which will investigate the use of LSD-assisted psychotherapy for patients who are suffering from terminal illness. In the study, twelve patients will be given either an active dose or a placebo dose of LSD. Eight of the participants will receive an active dose of 200 micrograms, and four will be given a placebo dose of 20 micrograms. The trial will evaluate the potential for LSD to relieve the anxiety and fear of death that frequently accompany advanced-stage illnesses. Diaries kept by the patients will record data about their level of pain and anxiety before and after the LSD therapy sessions. LSD was chosen for the study because of its ability to induce spiritual and revelatory mental states and perceptions.
MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) is supporting Dr. Gasser's endeavor, donating $50,000 of the estimated $150,000 it will cost to do the study. Previous medical studies (which continued into the early 1970's) found that LSD was, for the most part, safe for therapeutic use. In fact, before it was declared illegal in 1966 many therapists hailed the drug as a miraculous tool for psychotherapy. However, not surprisingly, popular psychiatric support for the drug dwindled after it was made illegal and therapists could no longer provide it for medical use.
While full approval of the clinical trial is technically still pending, the Swiss Ethics Committee has already backed the proposal, and MAPS is optimistic that SwissMedic and the BAG (the two other Swiss regulatory agencies involved with approving the study) will do the same. This trial follows in the footsteps of two other major psychedelic drug studies conducted in recent years, Dr. Michael Mithoefer's research with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for PTSD, and Dr. Roland Griffiths's fascinating study of the mystical effects of psilocybin when taken by ordinary people.
Images: Creative Commons courtesy of ashcroft54.
Tristan Gulliford is a writer, dreamer, and aspiring myth-keeper who makes electronic music under the name "Dreamcode". He is currently attending the University of Colorado at Boulder.Tweet