LSD has been a popular approach among psychotherapists, as it has presented beneficial effects for patients, in treating anxiety. My query is regarding the efficacy and safety of LSD on patients while treating for psychological perspective. The required effective and suitable dosage of LSD is also a considerable question, that what amount of LSD exerts positive effects (Gasser et al 153; Hofmann 53-60).
LSD or Lysergic acid diethylamide is a compound that was considered to play a significant role in serotonin neurotransmitter system. As a potent psychedelic, it has been associated with brain functioning. Various clinical trial based studies have revealed that it has positive impacts on neurosis, treating alcoholism, psychosomatic disorders and modelling mental illnesses (Gasser et al 153). The unique and exceptional approach towards LSD as psychotherapy led me to conduct this research.
Chemically, LSD was first developed by Hoffman in 1938, Switzerland. Initially, it was distributed by Sandoz Laboratories under the name of Delysid, as an investigational pharmaceutical agent. The post administration changes of LSD are synaesthesia, enhanced sensory sensitivity and mental imagery and illusionary alteration of perceived objects (Gasser et al. 513). There were various feedbacks from users regarding LSD. During the two decades from 1950’s to 1970’s it has been widely used by psychotherapists for the treatment of alcoholism, depression and anxiety in advanced stage cancer patients (Gasser et al 153).
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) sponsored various clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of LSD as serotonin neurotransmitter. MAPS’ facilitates the supplementary research on LSD-assisted psychotherapy under the modern drug development standards (MAPS, LSD-Assisted Psychotherapy).
Hofmann quoted in his book about the experience of LSD and accidental exploration of psychic effects of LSD. He quotes, “At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination.” (Hofmann LSD: my problem child).
This incident led to the question that what exactly came into the contact with Hofmann that offered him such an extraordinary experience (Hofmann 53-60). He concluded that it was lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate that was exerting its toxic influences that might have remained on the fingertips of Hofmann during the crystallization in the lab. To confirm his doubts about the potent effects of LSD Hofmann performed several self-experiment (Hofmann LSD: my problem child). Hofmann further added that LSD shows unique ability to develop a strong state of inebriation that is without any after-effects. After the elimination of LSD, individual reverts to healthy mental as well as the physical state (Hofmann LSD: my problem child).
The question arises that if the LSD’s potent impact on brain functioning is the reason for hallucinogenic conditions. It is hard to believe that it does not influence the brain’s machinery in adverse ways. What is the amount of LSD without any lethal impact on the patients?
Psychiatrists conveniently prescribe LSD as a psychedelic, even several therapists prefer to give it to the workers of mental and psychiatric hospitals so that they can feel the post administration psychotic state and better understand their patients. When asked the staff workers who consumed LSD, they reported that this experience helped them build a compassionate relationship with their patient. These positive remarks of users escort LSD as an adjunct to psychotherapy, and, therefore, its application in psychotherapies increased extensively (Gasser et al. 514).
Research studies, interviews, and clinical trials conducted on patients suggest that administration of LSD under the supervision of experts in an accurate amount the psychotherapeutic properties of LSD reduce anxiety and associated mental disorders. An article of New York Times published the comments of one of the research subject associated with the Gasser’s work on LSD. “I’d never taken the drug before, so I was feeling — well, I think the proper word for it, in English, is dread”(Carey, 2014).
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study performed by Gasser et al., targeted to investigate the efficiency of (LSD)-assisted psychotherapy on 12 subjects with anxiety linked to the life-threatening diseases. The whole conduct included two psychotherapy sessions at an interval of 2 to3 weeks. In this study, the participants were given 200 µg and 20µg LSD. Second-month proceedings exhibited positive effects through the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) with a significant decline in trait and state without any chronic unfavourable effects beyond a single day. The results were sustainable for twelve months revealing the positive effects of LSD as Psychedelic (Gasser et al 156).
Animal trials were performed to determine LSD toxicity. It is observed that with an LD50 dose of 50%, animals die. LD50 is a standard for determining LSD toxicity. The cause of death in animals with a lethal dose of LSD is by respiratory arrest. The trial studies conclude that for small animals like rodents the lethal dose of LSD varies from 0.3 mg/kg to 16.5 mg/kg. While, in large animals like Elephants 0.297 g of LSD proves to be deadly. The deadly nature of LSD in animals proves the lethal nature of LSD. However, it is found that the endurance of LSD in animals is higher than those in animals. A suitable dose of LSD in humans is between 0.003-0.001mg/kg; depicting low toxicity levels. A lethal dose of LSD causing death in Humans is not yet known. With respect to Humans, the lethal nature of LSD is not in its toxicity rather in the severe Psychic impact that it leaves on its victims. Some scientific literature has alleged that LSD damages the chromosomes and also has an impact at a generic level. Foetal Deformities have been repeatedly been attributed to LSD abuse or overdose (Hofmann LSD: my problem child).
A controlled, blinded and randomized study on LSD with participants was conducted by Gasser and fellow researchers. The study showed that there were mild and controlled or limited side effects. The results found that there were no lasting psychotic disorders or prolonged anxiety and that the side effects were mild and limited. Mild and insignificant somatic effects of LSD were detected like change in heart rate and blood pressure. However, patients suffering from life threatening diseases were found to be susceptible to higher risks of LSD (Hofmann LSD: my problem child). LSD showed significant reduction of trait anxiety (proneness to anxiety) in cancer patients. It is a major significant finding considering that short-term psychotherapy has little or no impact on trait anxiety. LSD also has neurobiological impacts when used for accelerating the psychotherapeutic process, to the extent that it can alter the personality traits. The study by Gasser et al., demonstrated that participants had a preference for two or longer sessions of LSD. There were significant decreases in STAI score after two or more LSD sessions. This suggests that a longer and consistent treatment of LSD is required for positive results (Gasser, et al. 157).
The research, clinical trials and studies suggest that LSD is a potent therapy for psychotherapeutic treatments. LSD, when used in a controlled amount, is beneficial for reducing anxiety and warrants the use of further LSD-assisted psychotherapy methods.
Carey, Benedict. 'LSD, Reconsidered For Therapy'. Nytimes.com. N.p., 2014. Web. 20
Gasser, Peter, et al. "Safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide-assisted psychotherapy for
anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases." The Journal of nervous and mental
disease 202.7 (2014): 513.
Hofmann, Albert. "How LSD originated." Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 11.1-2
Hofmann, Albert. LSD: my problem child. 1980.
MAPS,. 'LSD-Assisted Psychotherapy'. N.p., 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.