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Is LSD the new Xanax?

Posted Sep 21 2009 3:03pm

Studies have shown that psychedelic drugs may well be effective against anxiety. Unfortunately, thanks to 1960s society's fears of drug-crazed maniacs running wild in the streets, for the last generation or so, psychedelics have been strictly verboten when it comes to research into potential mental health benefits. That is, until lately. According a recent Daily Beast article, researchers are returning to psychedelics as a study subject:
The watershed moment came last September, when the FDA approved a clinical trial on the use of LSD to treat anxiety in cancer patients. According to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (or MAPS), it was the first time since the 1960s that a medical study involving LSD was permitted by the federal government. MAPS Director Rick Doblin called it “a symbol that the psychedelic renaissance is here.”

MAPS reached its fundraising goal of $225,000 in April, and will soon run its LSD trials in Switzerland, where it’s easier to legally obtain acid. The FDA’s approval is crucial, however, because it means it will accept the data that comes out of the Swiss trials. If those results prove the drug works, the agency will then run similar tests for safety and effectiveness. Doblin thinks that because of this ruling, it’s highly possible that within 10 years LSD prescriptions for treating anxiety associated with life-threatening illnesses could be available in America.

Several other clinical trials involving LSD are also under way, one of them at Harvard’s McLean Hospital. Cluster Busters, a nonprofit advocacy group co-founded by Wold, is funding research by Harvard’s Dr. John Halpern, who recently administered a modified LSD molecule to a handful of cluster patients, successfully ending most of their headache cycles for weeks or months. Halpern thinks they may have finally found the cure for an ailment that has mystified physicians for years, and hopes to run a larger clinical trial soon.

Other universities are beginning to take seriously research into LSD and other psychedelics as well. UC-Berkeley is working with the California Pacific Medical Center to understand how LSD affects the brain. And a lab at Johns Hopkins is giving subjects psilocybin mushrooms to test their “personally and spiritually meaningful experiences.”

Who knows? Maybe someday it'll be legal to trip your way to a healthier, happier you -- under a doctor's supervision, of course.

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