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Medicine

First LSD Test In 40 Years Reveal Drug Helps Terminal Patients Prepare For Death 221

Posted by samzenpus
from the everything-is-wet-even-dry-stuff dept.
EwanPalmer writes "The first controlled LSD study in more than 40 years reveals the drug could be used to help people with terminal illnesses deal better with death. The study, published in the Journal of nervous and Mental Disease, showed that 12 people who agreed to take the banned hallucinogenic drug during therapy sessions felt 'significant reductions in anxiety' about their lives ending."
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First LSD Test In 40 Years Reveal Drug Helps Terminal Patients Prepare For Death

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:09PM (#46415917)

    This has been a long known fact, shortly after the study, or experiments were done this was being discussed among the medical community, and among the Public. I guess the newer generation will rediscover these studies but this isn't anything remotely "new" or ground breaking!

    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @01:48AM (#46416509) Journal

      This has been a long known fact,

      Some of this was known back in the '60s and '70s. But the federal government decided to suppress it. In particular: Any drug with side-effects that were pleasant was considered a threat to the status quo of governance - a way for productive people to achieve happiness without driving industrial profit and/or part of a Communist conspiracy to rot the "Free World"'s moral fiber.

      There was a period where researchers would only get new grants if the conclusions of their studies stated that the drugs - psychedelics, marijhuana, etc. - were useless for medical purposes and/or dangerous. (The papers in Science, for instance, were often pathetically hilarious. The reduced data said one thing, while the conclusion said the opposite.)

      Meanwhile the government (notably with such things as the FBI's COINTELPRO program) smeared those (formerly highly respected scientists) who had been proponents of finding uses for them (especially those who had tried to use them to augment intelligence and experimented on themselves - often with bizarre results). The most prominent of these was Timothy Leary, though there were a number of others.

      Somewher in there the drugs were added to various "schedules" and banned from medical use.

      After a couple years of this, with any actual benefits buried in the noise, the government declared that it was "settled science" that there were no useful treatments using these drugs and stopped issuing new permits for their use in new research projects. (It's very much like research into global warming: You can't convince people on either side because the research is suspect due to the government becoming involved and pushing its horse in the race.)

      Then the government declared acts related to banned-drug trafficing, possession, and use to be "serious" crimes and imposed passed mandatory minimum sentences - recreating the scenario of alcohol prohibition, funding organized crime, filling up the prisons, and lining corrupt police personell's pockets with graft money. Then it passed RICO and created the same financial incentive structure that fueled the Spanish Inquisition - driving ever-increasing anti-drug activity and blocking attempts to repeal drug bans.

      And that's where it stood for decades. Negligible work on uses for the chemicals - either by organized research or private self-medication (with drugs of uncertain content and quality).

      So while Moore's Law drove the computes from giant cabnets filling floors of office buildings to chips in everything under the sun, work on a nimber of categories of drugs stagnated.

      The canabinoids of Marijuana, alone, have a number of apparent (but not adequately researhed) benefits:

        - They appear to be a specific treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (which, itself, seems to be a result of undermeidcation for pain - also driven by the "drug war").
        - Canabinoids (including at least one which does not produce a substantial "high") also appear to be a successful treatment for a debilitating form of childhood epilepsy.
        - Parkinson's disease eventually kills, not directly through loss of dopamine, but by the body's attempt to compensate for it by fouling up a system that uses the recently discovered endocanabinoids as neurotransmitters. (These are the chemicals that THC and its relatives mimic, much as opioids mimic endorphins.) This ends up with loss of memory and loss of appetite, and the victim starves herself to death. Canabinoids may help alleviate this and/or prolong life, (if only by reducing the tendency to self-starvation by inducing "the munchies").
        - Canabinoids have been claimed to arrest the progress of several cancers, including a brain cancer.d
        - Canabinoids have long been used for reducing the nausea of chemotherapy, easing self-starvation in cancer patients. (Similarly with side-effects of anti-AIDS drug coctails.)

      I could go on.

      But "more research is needed" to determine which (if any) of these effects are real, turn them into practical treatments, and deploy them. And it's not going to happen smoothly and rapidly with the government continuing to interfere.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        The canabinoids of Marijuana, alone, have a number of apparent (but not adequately researhed) benefits:

        - They appear to be a specific treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (which, itself, seems to be a result of undermeidcation for pain - also driven by the "drug war").
        - Canabinoids (including at least one which does not produce a substantial "high") also appear to be a successful treatment for a debilitating form of childhood epilepsy.
        - Parkinson's disease eventually kills, not directly through loss of dopamine, but by the body's attempt to compensate for it by fouling up a system that uses the recently discovered endocanabinoids as neurotransmitters. (These are the chemicals that THC and its relatives mimic, much as opioids mimic endorphins.) This ends up with loss of memory and loss of appetite, and the victim starves herself to death. Canabinoids may help alleviate this and/or prolong life, (if only by reducing the tendency to self-starvation by inducing "the munchies").
        - Canabinoids have been claimed to arrest the progress of several cancers, including a brain cancer.d
        - Canabinoids have long been used for reducing the nausea of chemotherapy, easing self-starvation in cancer patients. (Similarly with side-effects of anti-AIDS drug coctails.)

        I could go on.

        If canabinoids are so useful, then why not produce them in a pill, instead of smoking the marijuana. Oh, wait, they did, and in clinical trials, they weren't proven very effective. Which begs the question as to whether the canabinoids are effective or the placebo effect is what is being observed. Even if there is some effectiveness, the question then should be is it more effective than current medications/treatments?

        For instance 2-bromo-LSD, a derivative of LSD is very effective for alleviating migraines a

        • by bmacs27 (1314285) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @10:13AM (#46419007)
          Agreed. Scientific research is needed. Reschedule the drug so that it can be accessed by scientists for research. Even a drop from schedule one to schedule two would make a big difference.
        • by jfengel (409917)

          Which begs the question as to whether the canabinoids are effective or the placebo effect is what is being observed.

          It also brings up the question of why they didn't try an inhaled version rather than an oral version. Marijuana is known to have antiemetic benefits, for example, and delivering it via the lungs is both faster and avoids the problem of vomiting up the drug before it's absorbed. Pills are not the best way to deliver antiemetics; the leading anti-nausea drug (Ondansetron) is frequently delivered rectally or via IV. Delivery by inhalation has substantial advantages.

          I really don't know why there aren't inhaled

      • I think though that some of these ideas are changing... full employment is impossible and govmts need to find other ways to occupy their time than work.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The bible thumpers who think we should all face death kicking and screaming and in maximum pain will put an end to this research forthwith.

  • by swb (14022) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:23PM (#46415979)

    I'd say it was more like the first test in 24 years, I remember it being tested extensively in college.

    I do remember there was often a sense of finding a higher meaning or truth, but come morning we could never remember what it was. It was maddening. So one time I borrowed a pocket dictation machine during our, uh, testing, and we thought we'd record this great insight we had.

    Even though we finally went to bed with the idea that we had, at last, captured this great truth for posterity, when we listened to the tape the next day we were disappointed to find out that all we had recorded were the semi-coherent ramblings of some guys on LSD,

    • by Bite The Pillow (3087109) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:51PM (#46416117)

      What's after the comma? Oh please, there's a comma. There has to be something after the comma. What's after the comma? For fucks sake, what's after the comma?

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      If higher truths could be coherently expressed in language, religions would be out of business. Better philosophers than you have been trying for thousands of years, and yet pretty much every canonical text on the subject begins with some variation on the sentiment "The Tao which can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao". Read those writings and they too will seem like semi-coherent ramblings, unless and until you already know (*not* understand) the truths being discussed.

      Heck - for that matter try to accu

    • by Kingofearth (845396) * on Thursday March 06, 2014 @12:49AM (#46416285)
      People always make jokes like this about LSD, and granted a lot of "revelations" and "brilliant ideas" turn out to just be drug-induced delusions, but you really can learn a lot about yourself and other things from LSD. A lot of the things you learn are deeply personal and wouldn't be meaningful to anyone else. Some are things you already "knew", but get integrated better from the experience. And a lot of people have profound spiritual experiences, which, truth aside, provide their lives with meaning.

      And then there was the experiment where a couple dozen professionals who had been stuck on various problems for months were given LSD to determine it's effects on creative problem solving. (You can read about the experiment here: http://www.themorningnews.org/... [themorningnews.org]) but here's a quote:

      "But here’s the clincher. After their 5HT2A neural receptors simmered down, they remained firm: LSD absolutely had helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems. And the establishment agreed. The 26 men unleashed a slew of widely embraced innovations shortly after their LSD experiences, including a mathematical theorem for NOR gate circuits, a conceptual model of a photon, a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device, a new design for the vibratory microtome, a technical improvement of the magnetic tape recorder, blueprints for a private residency and an arts-and-crafts shopping plaza, and a space probe experiment designed to measure solar properties."

      Yeah, LSD is a lot of fun to use recreationaly, and it's easy to mock "the semi-coherent ramblings of some guys on LSD," but LSD has a lot of potential to offer our society if only we'd take it seriously.
      • by swb (14022)

        I think there are those moments in normal life where you gain an understanding of something and you are struck by the profound nature of whatever truth it is you discover, sort of a breakthrough moment. These moments are fleeting and not usually common occurrences.

        I think part of what LSD does is to stimulate the brain in a way that makes more ideas seem like they provide a profound understanding or meaning.

        I think a lot of terminally ill people probably suffer from a lot of confusion and fear because they

        • by ultranova (717540)

          I think part of what LSD does is to stimulate the brain in a way that makes more ideas seem like they provide a profound understanding or meaning.

          No, what it does is remove the "anttention filter" from your brain. It doesn't cause hallucinations; it's just that there are many possible ways of interpreting your sensory inputs at any given time, and LSD removes the filter that rejects all but the most likely, thus your attention moves between them constantly. But of course physical senses are not the only in

      • by judoguy (534886)
        Stop believing in magic. Seriously, repeat after me :These is no Soma [wikipedia.org], there is no Soma.

        Sorry folks, as someone who stopped counting at around 250 acid trips, I can tell you that discipline, hard work and NOT dulling/scrambling the senses is your best bet to transcend your current limitations.

        • by cusco (717999)

          For you. For other people there are other routes that may be more appropriate. For one guy that I knew years ago it was the experience of falling through the ice on Lake Michigan that seemed to open him up to the other possibilities in what had previously been a very rigid and constrained life. For some it's a near-death experience, or even just an extremely lucid dream(s). YMMV

  • Similar Tests.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:25PM (#46415983)

    Were done with Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) on terminally ill cancer patients (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else/201210/psilocybin-anxiety-and-depression-in-cancer) and also PTSD sufferers (http://guardianlv.com/2013/08/psychedelics-show-promise-for-ptsd-treatment/). Psychedelics are beautiful substances which when used correctly can give the user a profound, new outlook on life and put personal matters into better perspective. There's no doubt these drugs are exceptional in acting as what I would describe as the psychological equivalent to a disk de-fragmentation on a computer; nothing is necessarily gained or lost, just arranged and sorted back into the order which is most conducive to the operation of the hardware (or human body, in this case).

    • Re:Similar Tests.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kingofearth (845396) * on Thursday March 06, 2014 @12:52AM (#46416299)
      And there was the study done by John Hopkins Medical School which looked at the effects of psilocybin on healthy adults.

      Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience.

      Critically, however, the participants themselves were not the only ones who saw the benefit from the insights they gained: their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.

      You can read more about it here: http://healthland.time.com/201... [time.com]

      • "their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder."

        In pharmaceutical parlance, Psilocybin appears to be a potent Assholeimase inhibitor
  • People use all kinds of substances to reduce anxiety when they are aware of their upcoming deaths. Alcohol is a popular one. Cigarettes (countless stories of mortally wounded soldiers asking for a cigarette). I'm sure marijuana would work equally as well. It's not really that much of a shocker: mind altering substances (of any potency) make facing death easier.
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      The difference is that alcohol very rarely solves the problem, it only masks it. Sober up and all your anxiety is still there. Psychedelics on the other hand can profoundly and permanently alter your perspective on the world and yourself. LSD in particular is known to be a powerful promoter of neuro-restructuring, in some extreme cases permanently altering things even as seemingly fundamental as the way people's brain processes visual information, so that far more of the brain responds directly to visual

  • The Grateful Dead takes on a deeper meaning.

  • about my death?

    As long as I can remember (that includes Captain Kangaroo and the Watergate Hearings), I've known I'm going to die, and it's never worried me that much.

    No, I don't want to die, but it's gonna happen whether I want it to or not, so no use getting my tits in a twist about something I can't prevent.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      about my death?

      As long as I can remember (that includes Captain Kangaroo and the Watergate Hearings), I've known I'm going to die, and it's never worried me that much.

      No, I don't want to die, but it's gonna happen whether I want it to or not, so no use getting my tits in a twist about something I can't prevent.

      I have never been worried about dying. Honestly, I thought most people were mostly scared to die because of religious reasons.

      While I'm not suicidal, I am looking forward to seeing what happens after I die.

      I'm guessing either nothing happens, and I don't exist anymore, that I wake up hooked up to some simulation, or reincarnation (which doesn't mean I'm not in a simulation, I could be in a simulation that starts you over in another life.)

      Either way, I have no control over it and it's going to happen, so I'

    • by ultranova (717540)

      about my death?

      Yes. The rest of us just dread to face a world without you.

    • by NoZart (961808)

      Not panicking per se, but having it loom is something that comes with age. I always was a "living the moment" guy, enjoying it to the fullest. Now i am pushing 40 and death comes to my thoughts every now and then (for the last year or so). I don't know if it's "just the mid life crisis" or if those thoughts will stay/intensify, but it really can inhibit life a small, but measurable bit.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Everyone knows that and handles it about the same way.

      When you hear a honk and see a speeding truck about 3 feet from you, you'll wet your pants like everyone else.

  • According to this [youtu.be] scientific paper. Acid blows holes in your aura, man, ain't nothing but a quick buzz and they won't take no LSD.
  • Some people describe their first LSD trip being a truly enlightening experience which allowed them to see life and the world in a completely new perspective. Can you explain this more specifically?
    • I suppose one could try to explain, but a tiny square of blotter paper is worth about a billion words.

    • I can. It shuts down the part of your brain that rationalizes things. You can't make complex thoughts to justify your actions. You just do what you normally would do, like eat some cake... but instead of "I'm eating this because it's the weekend and I'm hungry" you think "Cake... taste good... me eat... I LIKE SUGAR!" As a result you usually end up finding out some truths about yourself you rather would not have admitted to. In the end it's almost always a good thing, and you end up being a better person be

  • I can confirm that after the last time I took LSD I was DEFINITELY prepared for death. Hence why that was 20 years ago.

  • by strstr (539330)

    If the person can't physically think or feel, and their neurons function are disrupted, they don't and can't particularly feel anything in a controlled way. So of course they will stop worrying about death, and their entire brains will be immobolized and incapable of defense or anything else.

    They used to slip this drug to unwitting victims to turn them into schizophrenics for gods sakes. The CIA also envisioned putting it in water supplies to make the entire populace of a region defenseless, walking around

  • Ok, when did that become permitted again? last i heard it was still a 'scheduled drug' and even research was banned.

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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