LSD Investigated As an Anxiety Treatment

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A small study has found that the psychedelic drug LSD may help in treating severe anxiety.

Peter Gasser, a psychiatrist in private practice in Switzerland, and colleagues looked at whether incorporating LSD into psychotherapy sessions with 12 patients, most of whom has terminal cancer and severe anxiety, would ease symptoms.

Half of the patients were given a sub-effective dose of LSD, while the other half were given a moderately high amount of 200 micrograms. Only patients in the higher dose group showed improvements in easing anxiety, the researchers reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Although patients said that they experienced a wide range of emotions during their LSD “trips,” getting high on the psychedelic appeared to make it easier for patients to address problems, leading to a resolution, the researchers added, noting that no lasting side effects or adverse events were reported.

Follow-up was completed on nine patients one year later. Of those, seven said their experience with LSD led to long-term improvements in anxiety.

At a conference last month in New York on using psychedelic drugs as medicine, Gasser told the audience there that LSD can help people with anxiety by allowing them to experience “new and unknown perceptions and worlds, and expansion of consciousness,” Newsweek reported.

LSD Investigated As an Anxiety Treatment
LSD Investigated As an Anxiety Treatment

More than a generation later, Peter Gasser and others have reignited the study of LSD's medical potential. In a recent paper published online this month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, he and his co-authors report on their efforts to incorporate the chemical into psychotherapy sessions with 12 patients. Most of them had terminal cancer, and severe anxiety.

During sessions, half the patients were given a low, sub-effective dose of LSD, and half were given a moderately high amount (200 micrograms). Those who took low doses did not show improvements in anxiety levels, while those who got the full dose did. The former group was then given the option of taking the larger amount in a subsequent session.

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