A new study will examine the effects of LSD as a treatment for generalised anxiety disorder.
The Centre of Psychedelic and Cannabis Research in Miami Lakes, a private research clinic, has started the federally approved double-blind, randomised clinical trial, with the first dose administered to a patient in August this year
Considered to be the largest ever study of LSD for potential commercial use in the US, the study is designed to examine both the effects of LSD and the most beneficial dosage to combat the debilitating mental health disorder.
Science and psychedelics
Hallucinogens of all kinds, from LSD to psilocybin mushrooms, are gaining popularity among psychiatric research professionals because it appears they could be an effective treatment for psychological problems if administered in controlled amounts under medical supervision.
Rishi Kakar, Medical Director and Chief Scientific Officer at Segal Trials, who are collaborating on the study, said:
“There is such a renewed interest, there is such a large unmet need in our community in that particular area.
“And psychedelics look like they are getting more normalised in the minds of patients and communities versus being on the fringes of recreational use.”
Now in its second phase, and spanning 20 nationwide clinics, the study is designed to examine both the effects of LSD and the most beneficial dosage to combat generalised anxiety disorder.
This is a double-blind, randomised trial where 200 patients will be given one of the four different dose strengths of MM-120 (the pharmaceutical name for LSD) or a placebo.
Patients will then be monitored in a room that feels more like a natural living space rather than a medical clinic.
One of the study’s first patients was said to be reclined on a couch with a headset, blanket, and eye mask while undergoing the psychedelic experience. Two experienced guides were also there for the duration of the test which lasted around 12 hours.
Researchers are unsure about how long the second phase of the study will last, but once there is enough data to look at from participants, MindMed (owners of the pharmaceutically optimised LSD) will approve the specific dose of MM-120 which will be studied further in phase three of the trial.
Phase three consists of a larger participant pool and will only carry out tests with the approved dosage. This is the last step before MindMed can submit the treatment to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for possible future medical prescriptions.
Criminal to medical
Over 50 years ago, President Nixon started the war on drugs in America.
Before being criminalised in 1968, psychedelic drugs were widely researched as possible treatments for psychological issues.
Now, after many years, psychedelics appear to be making a resurgence in the medical world.
However, LSD, and psychedelics in general, still don’t seem to sit well with a lot of people. The mind-altering effects are seen to be dangerous by many, but hopefully this latest study can help dispel much of the stigma surrounding the compounds.
A chemist called Joseph Lichter, who also teaches a “Psychedelic Renaissance” course at Florida International University’s Honors College, thinks that this research could be huge for the future of psychiatry in America.
“In reality, it’s just a chemical compound that binds to a serotonin receptor and causes changes to the way people think or feel.
“And if that change can actually help them, which is what some of these studies are showing, we need to destigmatize it and give it hope, give it the attention it deserves.”