In 40-Year First, LSD Used in Therapy With FDA OK
In new study, it helped to ease anxiety symptoms
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2014 7:00 AM CST
Updated Mar 8, 2014 7:00 PM CST
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Researchers experimented with LSD in psychiatric treatment until such research was effectively banned in the US in 1966—but now a Swiss psychiatrist has conducted the first controlled trial of the hallucinogenic drug in more than four decades, with US FDA approval. Dr. Peter Gasser's study involved 12 people who were dying, most of terminal cancer, and suffering from "deep anxiety," the Seattle Times reports. After undergoing talk therapy, eight of the patients were given a 200-microgram dose of LSD designed to "produce the full spectrum of a typical LSD experience" on two occasions; the other four received a 20-microgram "active placebo" that wasn't expected to have an impact. They took their 10-hour "trips" in Gasser's office, and, he says, "Their anxiety went down and stayed down."

Specifically, subjects who received full doses of LSD saw a 20% improvement in their anxiety symptoms, and for those who were still alive a year later, the improvement had lasted, the New York Times reports. Those who took the placebo reported increased anxiety. It doesn't sound like a comforting experience at first: The Verge says the purpose of administering the psychedelic drug was to "facilitate discussions about the patients' fears of dying," and one patient reports that "the major part was pure distress at all these memories I had successfully forgotten for decades. These painful feelings, regrets, this fear of death." But he talked about all that with Gasser, something he'd found difficult prior to the trip; the Times refers to such distress as "therapeutically valuable," and many subjects had similar experiences. Other than that, no serious side effects were seen.

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Showing 3 of 78 comments
Mar 9, 2014 11:05 AM CDT
I hate the day after, when everything is sketchy and you just don't work right. Then the acid farts are the worst.
Mar 9, 2014 12:44 AM CST
two close friends in the early 70's were so anxiety-free on LSD that one dove head first into a shallow lake and the other jumped out a 17 storey window to join a carnival he was hallucinating about. both instantly died. they were 14 and 15 years old. these scientists don't know what they are playing around with. if the hallucinations get severe, an unsupervised person on LSD can do lots of very unhealthy things .... the hallucinations on acid is part of the experience ..... you lose your anxiety and healthy fears simply because you are so busy being amazed at what you are hallucinating ....
fred lapides
Mar 8, 2014 10:53 PM CST
LSD had been used some years ago for PTSD, as noted here: In 1976, because of recurring nightmares and depression, he subjected himself to a form of psychedelic psychotherapy from Dr. Jan Bastiaans that included the use of LSD; the visions experienced during this therapy became the basis for his book, Shivitti the patient, Dinur, was a survivor of German concentration camps; the dotor specialized in treating such survivors with the use of LSD. Dinur lived till his 90s, writing a book about his cure from the use of LSD