Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bummer, man. The Acid Doc checked out.

Albert Hofman, developer of LSD, died Tuesday at his hilltop home near Basel, Switzerland. Unlike what most of his critics would prefer to think, his death was not drug-related. He had a heart attack at the age of 102.

So, apparently, drugs can't always kill you. Take that, Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
Dr. Hofmann first synthesized the compound lysergic acid diethylamide in 1938 but did not discover its psychopharmacological effects until five years later, when he accidentally ingested the substance that became known to the 1960s counterculture as acid.

He then took LSD hundreds of times, but regarded it as a powerful and potentially dangerous psychotropic drug that demanded respect. More important to him than the pleasures of the psychedelic experience was the drug’s value as a revelatory aid for contemplating and understanding what he saw as humanity’s oneness with nature. That perception, of union, which came to Dr. Hofmann as almost a religious epiphany while still a child, directed much of his personal and professional life.
More accurately, while working for Sandoz Laboratories (now Novartis) as a chemical scientist, he began studying the medicinal plant squill and the fungus ergot in order to purify and synthesize active components for use in drugs. Hofmann first synthesized LSD-25 in 1938, and set it aside until April 16, 1943. While re-synthesizing the LSD, he accidentally "ingested" a dose through his fingertips and took the first acid trip. Three days later, Hofmann dropped 250 micrograms of LSD before his bicycle ride home. This was followed by a series of self-experiments conducted by Hofmann and his colleagues. (One can speculate about the scientific validity of these "experiments," but why bother?)

However, despite the passing of its inventor, LSD is set to make a comeback. And legally, this time.
Swiss medical authorities have given a doctor approval to carry out LSD-assisted psychotherapy trials on patients suffering from advanced-stage cancer and other terminal illnesses.

This will be the first government-approved study looking into LSD's therapeutic benefits on humans in over 35 years.
Dr. Hofman (no relation, incidentally, to Abbie Hoffman, the notorious sixties radical) also wrote a book on the subject, LSD, My Problem Child (available in digital form here).

No comments: