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LSD: The Geek's Wonder Drug?


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Why LSD is illegal in two words: Richard Nixon

 

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70015-0.html

 

BASEL, Switzerland -- When Kevin Herbert has a particularly intractable programming problem, or finds himself pondering a big career decision, he deploys a powerful mind expanding tool -- LSD-25.

 

"It must be changing something about the internal communication in my brain. Whatever my inner process is that lets me solve problems, it works differently, or maybe different parts of my brain are used, " said Herbert, 42, an early employee of Cisco Systems who says he solved his toughest technical problems while tripping to drum solos by the Grateful Dead -- who were among the many artists inspired by LSD.

 

"When I'm on LSD and hearing something that's pure rhythm, it takes me to another world and into anther brain state where I've stopped thinking and started knowing," said Herbert who intervened to ban drug testing of technologists at Cisco Systems.

 

Herbert, who lives in Santa Cruz, California, joined 2,000 researchers, scientists, artists and historians gathered here over the weekend to celebrate the 100th birthday of Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD here in 1938. The centenarian received a congratulatory birthday letter from the Swiss president, roses and a spontaneous kiss from a young woman in the crowd.

 

In many ways, the conference, LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug, an International Symposium on the Occasion of the 100th Birthday of Albert Hofmann, was a scientific coming-out party for the drug Hofmann fathered.

 

"LSD wanted to tell me something," Hofmann told the gathering Friday. "It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation."

 

Bent with age but still eloquent, Hofmann said he hoped the symposium would encourage the renewed therapeutic and spiritual use of LSD in supervised settings.

 

Lysergic acid diethylamide, a derivative of lysergic acid found in the alkaloids of the ergot grain fungus, has been illegal worldwide since the mid-1960s and still generates controversy. The conference was picketed Saturday by a splinter group from Scientology opposed to drug use.

 

The storied history of LSD as a mind-expanding tool began five years after Hofmann discovered LSD-25, and had what he described as a "peculiar presentiment" compelling him to resynthesize the drug. Without ingesting the substance, Hofmann managed to accidentally absorb enough of the chemical to experience its effects. In a second intentional trip, Hoffman said he had a frightening experience that gave way to feelings of rebirth.

 

During the 1950s and 1960s, LSD was found to be a promising tool for psychiatry and psychotherapy and was studied by the CIA as a potential interrogation weapon. It was criminalized after it escaped from the lab to be widely embraced by the youth culture.

 

Hofmannn said millions of people have taken LSD, but some had bad reactions when they took counterfeit drugs. He would like to see a modern Eleusis, the ancient Greek site that held the rituals of Eleusinian Mysteries which took place for two millennia beginning in 1500 BC. During the LSD symposium, mythologist Carl P. Ruck and chemist Peter Webster presented their research suggesting that an ergot preparation was the active ingredient for the Kykeon beverage used during the ritual.

 

"When Hofmann synthesized the chemical in LSD, he stumbled upon a 4,000-year-old secret," said Ruck, author of Road to Eleusis.

 

In 1958, Hofmann was the first to isolate the psychoactive substances of psilocybin and psilocin from Mexican magic mushrooms (psilocybe mexicana) which were among a variety of sacred plants used around the world to invite ecstatic and spiritual experiences.

 

The United States Supreme Court is now considering an appeal brought by the New Mexican chapter of the Uniao do Vegetal, or UDV, which uses the outlawed ayahauska brew in its ceremonies and cites the Eleusinian Mysteries as a precedent for a psychoactive Eucharist.

 

At the symposium, presentations of electronic trance music and psychedelic art by painter Alex Grey encouraged meditative and spiritual reflection for participants -- especially those in altered states of consciousness.

 

Participants eager to describe their modern-day spiritual LSD experiences were encouraged to contribute to a library of drug experiences on the Erowid website. Earth and Fire Erowid, who operate the site, presented a sampling of comments at the symposium and documented the two to five known deaths that have been associated with LSD.

 

Geri Beil of Cologne, Germany, who attended the symposium, recalled his own ecstatic LSD experience on an Indian beach on New Year's day, 2000. "I was crying from happiness, so thankful to my parents that they created me," said Beil. "This experience has not disappeared; it has had a lasting effect."

 

Like Herbert, many scientists and engineers also report heightened states of creativity while using LSD. During a press conference on Friday, Hofmann revealed that he was told by Nobel-prize-winning chemist Kary Mullis that LSD had helped him develop the polymerase chain reaction that helps amplify specific DNA sequences.

 

"When you study natural science and the miracles of creation, if you don't turn into a mystic you are not a natural scientist," said Hofmann.

 

In his presentation, artist Alex Grey noted that Nobel-prize-winner Francis Crick, discoverer of the double helical structure of DNA, also told friends he received inspiration for his ideas from LSD, according to news reports.

 

The gathering included a discussion of how early computer pioneers used LSD for inspiration. Douglas Englebart, the inventor of the mouse, Myron Stolaroff, a former Ampex engineer and LSD researcher who was attending the symposium, and Apple-cofounder Steve Jobs were among them. In the 2005 book What the Dormouse Said, New York Times reporter John Markoff quotes Jobs describing his LSD experience as "one of the two or three most important things he has done in his life."

 

But the symposium wasn't just a census of LSD-using notables. Attendees included psychotherapists and psychiatrists who discussed research into the therapeutic usefulness of psychedelic drugs.

 

Dr. Michael Mithoefer presented the preliminary findings of his study in Charleston, South Carolina, which is investigating whether MDMA is effective for treating post-traumatic stress disorder in people traumatized by crime or war.

 

Harvard University professor, Dr. John Halpern, discussed his proposed study -- now awaiting DEA approval -- using MDMA to treat anxiety in cancer patients.

 

The Florida-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is supporting studies and research in Canada investigating the use of ibogain to treat drug addiction.

 

And a study at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, supported by the Heffter Research Institute, is investigating whether psilocybin effectively eases the anxiety of terminal cancer patients. Psychiatrist Charles Grob says his research group has located six of the needed 12 subjects and is looking for more participants.

 

While the data has yet to be analyzed, Grob told seminar participants that all the participants in the study have shown promising reactions, and he applauded the opportunity to share the data in an international gathering.

 

"It's very encouraging to see such a large number of people, including very knowledgeable people, getting together and sharing a common vision that these compounds have tremendous potential to facilitate healing, especially in areas that do not respond well to conventional treatments," said Grob. "There is global healing in these compounds which have been used for millennia by indigenous people that have much to teach modern man and modern woman."

 

MAPS founder Rick Doblin says his goal is to make psychedelic medicines into prescription drugs, lamenting that LSD is not yet being studied for therapeutic purposes. "We have been deeply touched by our experiences with psychedelics and it is hard that there is not a single legal study with LSD given to humans anywhere in the world," said Doblin. "We need to bring what is underground and illegal back into a legal context."

 

But Doblin notes that a group of people who say LSD provides relief from their cluster headaches have organized online and are pushing for a study at Harvard to explore a possible therapy using the drug. If Harvard accepts the MDMA study, Doblin says it could pave the way for the symbolically important return of LSD research at Harvard that halted during the tenure of Timothy Leary. His goal, says Doblin, is to secure an LSD study in time for Hofmann's 101st birthday.

 

Dr. Andrew Sewell, a psychiatrist and neurologist from the Harvard Medical School who studies alcohol and drug abuse, says most problems with LSD occur when users take an unknown dose they don't feel comfortable with, in an uncontrolled setting, without supervision to shield them from dangerous situations.

 

"LSD flashbacks are well-confirmed phenomenon but they are relatively rare and don't seem to cause as much trouble as the media would have you believe," said Dr. Sewell at the LSD symposium.

 

Dr. Sewell says people who have underlying mental disorders should not take LSD because it could make their symptoms worse. "Like any powerful drug, if LSD is used incorrectly it can cause more harm than good," said Dr. Sewell. "LSD is a potentially dangerous drug and should be taken under medical supervision."

 

"There is no evidence that LSD causes permanent brain damage -- and quite a lot of evidence that it doesn't," said Sewell. "We are lucky that we have over 1,000 papers written in the '50s and '60s when LSD was given to thousands and thousands of research subjects so we have a pretty good idea at this point what it does and does not do."

 

Asked if the world needs his invention, Hofmann said he hoped that the Basel LSD symposium would help create an appropriate place for LSD in society.

 

"I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD," said Hofmann. "It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be."

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I really do hope they start researching psychoactive chemicals seriously...there are huge cultural divides that have stemmed from the sixties through propoganda (you still see the media blaming the effects of substances directly for criminal behaviour.) and just plain ignorance.

 

I wonder what other prominent figures are keeping their so called 'skeletons' in the closet through fear of not being taken seriously, or being over scrutinised...if their inventions / revelations were derived from a 'profound' chemically induced experience.

 

Wasn't 'Nobel Prize Winner' Frank Wilczek sporting a t-shirt from an Amsterdam 'head' shop, in his lecture 'The Universe is a Strange Place.' He's probably tea-total, but I'm sure credibility is smeared if people are know to 'dabble'.

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I really do hope they start researching psychoactive chemicals seriously...there are huge cultural divides that have stemmed from the sixties through propoganda (you still see the media blaming the effects of substances directly for criminal behaviour.) and just plain ignorance.

 

The ludicrous 'war on molecules' is nothing more than pseudo-moral, man-made, dietary laws. This is particulary ludicrous seeing as this 'war' is oft times conducted by so called Christians whose messiah can be interperted as spending up to 25% of his ministry railing that "a man cannot be defiled by what he puts into his mouth" and warning of the hypocrites in the 'latter days' that disfigure their faces with a sad countenance when fasting, instead of popping a pill and enjoying it.

 

Psychoactive drugs can certainly be dangerous, but so can alcohol. The moral solution in the past was to turn alcohol into a sacrament in order to mediate its possible harmful abuse.

 

aguy2

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  • 1 month later...

http://www.erowid.org/culture/characters/shulgin_alexander/shulgin_alexander_interview2.shtml

 

Intersting link to interview with Alexander Shulgin who talks about the use of psycoactive chemicals in therapy and the state of drug laws today.

 

Personally I think Shulgin is one of the greatest chemists/neurologist of this century but just becasue he studies, syntheisies and tries psycoactive chemicals, he gains little of the respect he deserves from the scientific community.

 

Also see http://www.erowid.org/culture/characters/shulgin_alexander/shulgin_alexander.shtml

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i saw on House, if you take LSD, it gets rid of a migrane instantly. if you take anti-depressents after, it gets rid of the effects of the LSD and you migrane stays gone. i don't know if it is true though.

I doubt it. It is House which I don't very much trust.

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i saw on House, if you take LSD, it gets rid of a migrane instantly. if you take anti-depressents after, it gets rid of the effects of the LSD and you migrane stays gone. i don't know if it is true though.

 

There has been some reseach into using psylocibin from magic mushrooms to treat a certian type of migranes called cluster headaches, but i've never heard of LSD being used before. COuld be plausable though.

 

However if you want to come off LSD, anti depressants really would be the last things to take. Becasue anti depressants such as MAOI's and SSRI's increase the level of seratonin in your brain and seratonin is partially responsible for the efects of LSD. LSD in combination with anti depressants are usually only used by extreme psyconaughts as the effects are pretty much doubled in intensity.

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Everything put on earth is here for a reason. God (if you belive in him) put Marijuana and all those other products here for a reason. No drug should be illegal. Just people who are under the influence should not be allowed to use machinery. They made breathilizers, Im shure they can make weed detectors. But some drugs should be used as a way of getting the truth.

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seratonin is partially responsible for the efects of LSD. LSD in combination with anti depressants are usually only used by extreme psyconaughts as the effects are pretty much doubled in intensity.

 

As you said, LSD binds to serotonergic receptors. However, generally speaking antidepressants DECREASE the subjective effects of hallucinogens.

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=8726753&query_hl=1&itool=pubmed_docsum

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I think it depends on the anti depressant and whether it has antagonist or agonist effects. I was wrong about MAOI's and SSRI's but tricyclic and lithium based anti depressants, definately do increase the intesnsity of the effects.

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Everything put on earth is here for a reason. God (if you belive in him) put Marijuana and all those other products here for a reason. No drug should be illegal. Just people who are under the influence should not be allowed to use machinery. They made breathilizers, Im shure they can make weed detectors. But some drugs should be used as a way of getting the truth.

 

The problem with cannabis, is there are no road side test you can carry out like alcohol, to see if someone is under the influence. Most tests for cannabis such as urine, hair, blood etc take a long time to carryout and can easily give false positives from legal drugs such as Ibuprofen, Naproxenm, Ketoprofen.

 

I agree that a lot of drugs can be taken WITH moderation with little or no ill effects, but it is extremely nieve of you to think legalising all drugs will be of beneifit to society. Not everyone has enough self control stay off hard drugs, or take substances in moderation, which is why drug laws (even if nonsensical at times) need to be in place.

 

Can you honestly say that a society where heroin and crack cocaine would be freeley available to people suffering with depression, low self esteem and no self control etc would be a good place to live?

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The problem with cannabis' date=' is there are no road side test you can carry out like alcohol, to see if someone is under the influence. Most tests for cannabis such as urine, hair, blood etc take a long time to carryout and can easily give false positives from legal drugs such as Ibuprofen, Naproxenm, Ketoprofen.

 

I agree that a lot of drugs can be taken WITH moderation with little or no ill effects, but it is extremely nieve of you to think legalising all drugs will be of beneifit to society. Not everyone has enough self control stay off hard drugs, or take substances in moderation, which is why drug laws (even if nonsensical at times) need to be in place.

 

Can you honestly say that a society where heroin and crack cocaine would be freeley available to people suffering with depression, low self esteem and no self control etc would be a good place to live?[/quote']

 

With cannabis, you can easily do a roadside pupil dilation test. While the test won't be specific to cannabis, it will only be specific to drugs which alter the functioning of the brain and hence you should NOT be driving under the influence of. (In the test, a flashlight is shined in your eye and the amount of time it takes for your pupils to "close" is a very good sign of how "under the influence" you are. Those who are strongly under the influence will, in addition to not having much of a reaction from their pupils, show many other obvious signs that they are "not proper").

 

For the LSD and migraines thing, it is common knowledge that ergot based alkaloids are potent migraine inhibitors. Ergotamine is a commonly prescribed drug for those who suffer from migraines, so the action of LSD on supressing migraines isn't all that surprising.

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You can imagine the 'side effects' on a future packet of migraleve...

 

Don't operate machinery, it may start talking to you.

 

Unlikely to induce nausea, but you may witness shifting fractal patterns and experience a 'oneness' with your environment.

 

Don't take more than the recommended dose...seriously, thinking you're King of the Frogs is no laughing matter.

 

Whilst on the medication you feel you've discovered the secret of the universe, retain from writing a book about it - this is a common and most worrying side effect.

 

If symptoms persist speak to you doctor...or possibly your psychologist.

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.

 

For the LSD and migraines thing' date=' it is common knowledge that ergot based alkaloids are potent migraine inhibitors. Ergotamine is a commonly prescribed drug for those who suffer from migraines, so the action of LSD on supressing migraines isn't all that surprising.[/quote']

 

How does psylocibin work against cluster headaches? I know it is an alkaloid but I didn't think it was ergot based, does psylocibin have a similar structure to LSD, LSA etc then?.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, now i am all for changing America's ridiculous drug laws but some things SHOULD be kept out of peoples hands. It's all well and good that theres a guy out there that takes LSD and has all these wonderful insights. There are also people that take it and think they're Superman and go jump off a building. And no im not trying to be dramatic, i actually know someone that had their best friend do just that. I have to agree with aj47 that i really would not want to live in a world where hard drugs are readily available.

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There are also people that take it and think they're Superman and go jump off a building.

 

Yes, and people drink and think they're still competent to operate a motor vehicle, and 20,000 people per year (in the US) die as a result.

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Keeping LSD illegal is only one way the government controls our minds.

 

"How fortunate for leaders the people don't think" - Hitler

 

The government uses anxiety, too. Orange alerts happen when the government wanted us to be anixous enough not to question the invasion of Iraq, and on Christmas.

 

When you're worried, the adrenal glands get stimulated, creating a fight or flight responce. Blood flows to your arms and legs, less goes to your heart, digestive system and the brain. Over time seeing murders on the news, listening to the latest Al Queda is supposedly going to do, your brain will slowly shut down so you don't realise thes creeps are robing us blind.

 

Basically, we are the guinea pigs in a wierd biology experiment.

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Well as someone thats experimented with drugs I'll tell you theres a bit of a difference between being high and being drunk. No matter how drunk I've ever gotten I still knew who i was and where i was. Whereas I've been under the effects of drugs before and have ended up in a state where I didn't know who or what or where i was, and if not for having my friends there to look out for me i probably would have wandered into traffic =P. Also a reasonably intelligent person drinking in moderation ( personal judgement being key here) will probably be ok. Whereas even a "cautious" drug user runs the risk of an overdose. Also since drugs unpredictably skew your sense of reality you risk endangering yourself or others imo more so then with alcohol. A drunk knows that the guy sitting in the corner is just that. The person having a bad trip can easily confuse that person with anything you could possibly think of

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Obviously there are risks with any mind altering substance, but with proper preparation and careful use they can be significantly reduced.

 

I forget where I read this, but it seems a particularly apt analogy - when someone tries to climb a mountain without preparing properly and falls to their death, no-one blames the mountain.

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Anyone with half a brain can predict the effect a few drinks will have on them. Whereas with drugs it doesnt matter how experienced you are with them or how careful you try to be, as the effects it will have on you vary from person to person and even from one experience to the next. Also when i buy say a case of Miller i know what it is im getting. Whereas with any hard drugs no matter how reliable you think your dealer is you still run a risk of getting stuff that is laced with god knows what or is far more pure or impure then you think it is. Even if you do get good quality stuff your still in potential danger of having it interact with your body in unexpected ways and perhaps giving yourself a heart attack or seizure. The mountain is a more or less predictable challenge as you can prepare yourself for what your getting into, wheareas with drugs its pretty much a coin toss every time

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Experienced users can predict the effects drugs will have on them. Granted, with psychedelics such as LSD the effects can sometimes be very unpredictable, but experience will still make you more able to predict what is coming, handle surprises if they do arise, and prepare things before hand so you're not in a situation which would be likely to induce a bad trip.

 

Issues of impurities in the drug you think you're getting stem from the fact that they're illegal. If alcohol was illegal I expect you'd be a lot more at risk to adverse reactions, like blindness from methanol impurities, than you are when you buy a case of Miller today.

 

Assuming the drug is reasonably pure and the user has used it before with little or no ill effects, and is not taking a drastically increased dose, heart attacks or seizures would be very unlikely. I could be wrong, but I also don't think very many drugs have the potential to be immediately lethal, and that most deaths probably stem from impurities - which, once again, relates back to the fact that they're illegal.

 

Anyway, no-one is forcing anyone to use drugs. It's a personal choice, and when they're used responsibly the risk can be very minimal. Also, I think it should be noted that people are probably less inclined to seek medical help on drugs even if they badly need it because they're aware that what they're doing is illegal - whereas, I'm sure, people are frequently hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, not to mention the plethora of respiratory conditions that can result from nicotine addiction.

 

In a society in which there was less of a relentless and seemingly baseless campaign to demonize drugs, I am sure that drug use (for recreational, scientific, or spiritual purposes) would be far, far safer than it is today.

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I agree, with drugs such as Lsd and mushrooms, even though there can be risks involved, they are always highly overstated by the media and it is hard to get a real perspective on the dangers of a drug.

 

Personally I don't see the harm with an individual finding out the risks and then making an informed choice to take a substance. Many people choose to go mountain climbing or carryout any number of extreme sports, well aware that there is a chance they could injure or even kill themselves, but the difference is they are not breaking the law.

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