LSD Can Permanently Stop 'End-of-Life' Anxiety in Terminally Ill Patients

By Victoria Kim 11/25/14

The results of the first therapeutic study in 40 years saw a marked difference in subjects receiving a substantial dose of LSD.

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In the first controlled study in more than 40 years, Swiss researchers administered LSD-assisted psychotherapy to patients with life-threatening illnesses and end-of-life anxiety. While those who received a low dose of LSD did not show improvements in anxiety levels, those who received a full dose of 200 micrograms saw marked improvements.

In follow-up interviews 12 months after completing LSD-assisted psychotherapy, the research team observed the drug’s sustained effects, including lasting psychological changes. None of the participants reported lasting adverse reactions. Instead, their subjective experiences “suggest facilitated access to emotions, confrontation of previously unknown anxieties, worries, and intense emotional peak experiences” that led to a “restructuring” of the person’s emotional trust, habits, and world view.

“Participants consistently reported insightful, cathartic and interpersonal experiences, accompanied by a reduction in anxiety and a rise in quality of life,” study author and physician Peter Gasser wrote.

The researchers concluded that LSD, administered in a medically-supervised, psychotherapeutic setting, can be safe and produce lasting benefits in people with a terminal illness.

“Quality of life changed extremely insofar as I became calmer, that I take things easier,” wrote one study participant. “It makes a difference if I look upon death with stress or with equanimity. I believe that this is an enormous difference in quality of life. That I don’t have to cry every night like in the first months. Instead, I laugh…”

Early research of the drug, first synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938, explored its potential for treating anxiety and other mental illnesses. However, LSD research lost momentum after 1966, when the drug was banned in the United States.

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