Albert Hofmann, discoverer of the psychedelic drug LSD, dies

April 30th, 2008 - 6:19 pm ICT by admin  

Basel (Switzerland), April 30 (DPA) Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann, who discovered the mind-bending drug LSD that paved the way for the 1960s culture, has died, it was announced Wednesday. He was 102. The Albert Hofmann Foundation said he passed away Tuesday morning at his home in Burg near Basel, where he had been looked after by two care assistants.

His death comes just as interest in the drug, banned and pushed underground for more than 40 years, was being revived.

A spokesman for the foundation said: “Dr Hofmann’s discoveries have touched countless people and brought tremendous change to the world in more ways than can be counted.”

He added: “We are very glad that Dr Hofmann could still witness the early stages of new studies with LSD that will start in Switzerland in the near future.”

Hofmann, who called LSD “medicine for the soul,” was born in Baden in Switzerland in January 1906. He studied chemistry before joining the pharmaceutical department of Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, which was later to become Novartis.

He first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25) in 1938 but tests failed to reveal its pyschedelic effects and it was only five years later that he renewed testing on the drug.

He accidentally breathed in or swallowed the drug and discovered the powerful effects that were to help shape the future of psychoanalysis. The following day he dosed himself again and famously rode his bike home under the influence.

As well as LSD, Hofmann isolated other mind-manifesting chemical substances in mushrooms and seeds resulting in a number of medicinal compounds still used today. He authored more than 100 articles and several books including LSD - My Problem Child.

LSD was successfully used for around ten years for psychiatry, credited with helping recapture lost experiences and memories and opening up the mind.

Hofmann himself was disillusioned with the recreational use of the drug, and was also disappointed by its subsequent ban in the late 1960s.

On the 50th anniversary of its discovery, Hofmann wrote: “We all testify gratefully that we got valuable help on the way to what Aldous Huxley said is the end and the ultimate purpose of human life - enlightenment, beatific vision, love.

“I think all these joyful testimonies of invaluable help by LSD should be enough to convince the health authorities, finally, of the nonsense of the prohibition of LSD and of similar psychedelics.”

Just four months before his death Hofmann saw his wish granted last December when the Swiss medical authorities gave the go-ahead for a study involving LSD.

The move, supported by Hofmann, will be the first such study of the therapeutic effects of the drug on humans for 35 years.

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