Certain scientific studies claim that the well-known psychedelic drug LSD can help in the treatment of alcoholism and improve the condition of hopeless cancer patients, but historical taboos hinder the benefits of medical use of psychedelics.
David Nichols, professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, conducted the above-mentioned study on the LSD effects in patients with terminal cancer. Nichols found alleviation of anxiety and physical pain as well as loss of the fear of death in the most patients.
“The interesting thing about psychedelic drugs is that they greatly alter the views of the world. And I am very curious which part of the brain is so vital that is able to change the way we perceive reality?” said the scientist.
Nichols has been studying the effects of psychedelic drugs on the brain’s chemistry since 1969 and found that LSD may be used as a molecular tool to help understand the functions of the brain and decipher the mechanism of the appearance of emotions, which could assist in the treatment of certain mental disorders such as depression.
Nichols’s study is a mixture of neuroscience, chemistry and pharmacology. It is conducted on the basis of a study of various research subjects such as rat behaviour, molecular synthesis, cloned brain receptors and computer models.
According to Nichols, brain receptors respond to anything new and make people notice things, for example, when something falls down and breaks suddenly. When a person takes LSD, these receptors become more sensitive, and any usual object may seem “interesting”. “It creates novelty where novelty does not exist,” said Nichols.
Except for his study of LSD, Nichols has worked with Ecstasy, exploring the possibility of the drug to activate receptors in schizophrenics, to help them enhance memory and cognitive skills. Although the research is still under way, it may help those who suffer from schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.
However, the stigma put on the use of psychedelic drugs hinder many promising scientific ideas.
LSD was discovered yet in 1943 and immediately attracted attention due to its chemical similarity to serotonin, the “happiness hormone”. However, after the 1960s social revolution its “bad” reputation stopped serious research. Nichols said: “Imagine if someone invented the transistor, but does not use it“.
Nichols, who has a license to work with substances considered illegal by government, does not support the use of psychedelics for fun. “I think we need to understand with what purpose they have to be used,” he said. “I believe that psychedelics have a medical future, just they are not studied enough“.
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