Wednesday, 30 Apr, 2008 Science

Inventor of LSD Drug Dies


Albert Hofmann, a well-known inventor of hallucinogen drug LSD died of heart attack at age 102 on Tuesday.

Hofmann, discovered LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide-25) in 1938 working as a chemist at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm in Basel.

He was studying the medicinal properties of the fungus found on grains and was the first to test the drug describing it as "sudden feeling of unease and mild dizziness". When he left the work for home, he had a sensation that he was "rooted to the spot" while in fact his assistant told that they were riding quite fast. Hofmann reported about "vision", saying that all his thoughts appeared in colors and in pictures and several hours later the vision has disappeared. That was his description of the first experience with the hallucinogen uncovered on Swiss program marking his 100th birthday.

During the second experiment with LSD, he took a larger dose and later described it as a horror trip, saying that he was overwhelmed by fear and felt as though he was sent to a different world.

Hofmann believed that the invention of mind-altering drug will contribute greatly to psychiatric study and he insisted that the drug was produced as a medicine. Researchers thought that LSD, having the ability to uncover inner fears and conflicts, could be useful in the treatment of mental illnesses.

Initially, the drug was sold under the name Delysid and it was considered one of the strongest in medicine. Just one gram of LSD could drug about 20,000 for 12 hours.

LSD gained its popularity in 60s when it was praised as a way to self-discovery by rock stars. However, the consequences of using the drug such as the stories of the people committing the crime or suicide under hallucination led to the ban of LSD in US and other countries.

Hofmann is thought to take the drug occasionally for scientific purposes and insisted that it was not addictive. However, he agreed that in the wrong hands LSD can be very dangerous.

After his retirement from Sandoz firm, Hofmann was mainly occupied with traveling, writing and lectures. He led an active life until age 90 and is survived by two children.

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