First therapeutic LSD study in 40 years completed by MAPS

The Swiss study is the first “double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of LSD-assisted psychotherapy since the early 1970s.”

LSD blotter close-up

In a recent “Ask Me Anything” interview on Reddit, Rick Doblin (founder and president of MAPS), said:

“We’ve just completed the world’s first study of the therapeutic use of LSD in over 40 years, in Switzerland to treat anxiety associated with end-of-life issues. Eleven of the 12 subjects had never done LSD before and there were no serious adverse events, even in people facing death.”

The Swiss study is the first “double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of LSD-assisted psychotherapy since the early 1970s.”

This pilot study found that two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions successfully reduced anxiety in end-of-life patients and was led by Peter Gasser, M.D., who wrote a  letter (PDF) to friends and colleagues at its completion. In it he writes that “all the 12 participants reported a benefit from the treatment.” He continues:

“I am proud to say that we had in 30 sessions (22 with full dose 200 μg LSD and 8 with placebo dose 20 μg LSD) no severe side effects such as psychotic experiences or suicidal crisis or flashbacks or severe anxieties (bad trips)…That means that we can show that LSD treatment can be safe when it is done in a carefully controlled clinical setting.”

The paper was completed in August and accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed  “Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease” in December, made the following conclusions:

  • This pilot study found positive trends in the reduction of anxiety following two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions.
  • Anxiety remained at reduced levels at 12-month follow-up sessions, implying durability of effects.
  • LSD-assisted psychotherapy can be safely administered in these subjects.
  • The results of this small pilot study are promising, and should be pursued in larger samples.

The full results can be found in this clinical report