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LSD Study Reports Drug can Help Reduce Anxiety

Update Date: Mar 06, 2014 01:22 PM EST

For the first time in over four decades, researchers conducted a controlled human study with lysergic acid diethylamide, a stimulant more popularly known as LSD. The study, which was done in Switzerland, concluded that using LSD as a controlled psychotherapy for terminally ill patients could improve quality of life. LSD was able to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic pain and emotional suffering.

"These results indicate that when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety," the study authors wrote. "Suggesting that larger controlled studies are warranted."

For this pilot study, the researchers recruited 12 patients who suffered from some kind of serious illness and also dealt with severe anxiety. The patients first went through many drug-free psychotherapy sessions. The patients then received two full-day psychotherapy sessions with two therapists. The sessions took place two to three weeks a part from one another. During the sessions, the patients either received a 200-microgram dose of LSD or a 20-microgram dose of the drug, which the team called the "active placebo" group.

The researchers theorized that the larger dose of LSD would be "expected to produce the full spectrum of a typical LSD experience, without fully dissolving normal ego structures," according to the Seattle Times. However, the researchers discovered that the patients in the active placebo group reported significantly less anxiety. For the other patients who received the smaller doses of LSD, their anxiety levels continued to grow.

On top of the reduced anxiety levels, the researchers found that the participants taking the larger dose of LSD also had significant and lasting enhancements in their "state" and "trait" anxiety scores. The researchers reported that these changes were still noticeable after eight weeks. For 50 percent of the people in the lower dose group, their "state" and "trait" scores increased.

"The study was a success in the sense that we did not have any noteworthy adverse effects," said Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser, who led the research reported by the Independent. "All participants reported a personal benefit from the treatment, and the effects were stable over time."

The study was published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

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