Psychedelic drugs are getting a makeover, with scientists exploring their potential in treating debilitating conditions like cluster headaches, addiction or anxiety, with promising results.
That’s despite the fact that very few researchers are legally allowed to study psychedelics, largely because of LSD’s decades-old reputation as a counterculture drug that sparked bad trips.
Back in the 1960s, LSD was touted as a tool to shed social conventions and fast-forward to enlightenment – or as LSD advocate Timothy Leary memorably said, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”
He was hardly the first to feel the chemical’s allure. Back in the 1930s, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann had shelved LSD after first testing it as a treatment for heart disease. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more to it. After accidentally ingesting a bit and having a mild psychedelic experience, Hofmann decided to go further.
He eats 250 micrograms of LSD and, scientist that he is, starts journaling his experience. He only gets one entry down before he starts having really intense hallucinations. As he bikes home, he feels like time and space are standing still and objects around him are warping and wavering in weird shapes.
The next day, he writes, “A sensation of well-being and renewed life flowed through me… everything glistened and sparkled in a fresh light.”