U.K. researchers suggest that Lysergic acid diethylamide (commonly known as LSD), and other psychedelic drugs, can be used to treat a variety of mental disorders, including depression and alcoholism. The scientists have struggled to conduct their research because of legal restrictions, which one professor refers to as “the worst censorship in the history of science.”
According to the BBC, researchers from the Imperial College London, led by Professor David Nutt, gave 75 microgram injections of LSD to 15 men and five women and monitored their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
They reported that the doses had a “profound effect” on the brain activity of the participants, improving mood and mental state, according to the Guardian. No one reported a bad experience, although three volunteers said they felt slight feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
The researchers claim that the LSD study reinforces past research showing the drug can be used to treat depression and other mental problems. They added there aren’t many other promising treatments in the works.
Professor Nutt explained, “these drugs offer the greatest opportunity we have in mental health. There’s little else on the horizon.”
Unfortunately, Nutt and his team have struggled to secure funding for his experiments with LSD and psilocybin, which is the substance that makes magic mushrooms magic.
The professor explained that traditional funding sources are hesitant to provide money for research on these mind-altering substances because of legal restrictions and stigma.
Speaking at a briefing in London, David Nutt said, “we’ve banned research on psychedelic drugs and other drugs like cannabis for 50 years.
“Truly, in terms of the amount of wasted opportunity, it’s way greater than the banning of the telescope. This is a truly appalling level of censorship.”
In the U.S., a study in 2014 showed that LSD helped patients with life-threatening diseases with anxiety about death. Likewise, MDMA, a substance found in ecstasy, could help treat post traumatic stress disorder, according to a study in Arizona.
Neuroscientist Ravi Das at the University College London believes research on drugs like LSD is stigmatized because of past recreational use.
“The potential benefits are definitely downplayed in face of these drugs being used recreationally. People view their use in a research setting as ‘people are just having a good time’.”
According to the Guardian, the scientific community is seeing a renewed interest in psychedelics in treating mental diseases like depression.
Despite the complaints, research on the drugs is technically legal in the U.K.
The Home Office said through a spokesman, “drugs are illegal where scientific and medical analysis has shown they are harmful to human health.”
“We have a clear licensing regime, supported by legislation, which allows legitimate research to take place in a secure environment while ensuring that harmful drugs are not misused and do not get into the hands of criminals.”
Professor Nutt hopes to begin an experiment on the use of psilocybin on patients with depression in May.
[Image Credit: Raziel/Wikimedia Commons]