LSD, more technically known as Lysergic acid diethylamide was first synthesized on November 16th, 1938 by Swiss scientist Dr. Albert Hofmann. Dr. Hofmann was working at the Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland researching ergot alkaloid derivatives for use in pharmaceuticals. Ergot alkaloid’s are a type of ergoline alkaloid which is found in a certain type of fungus. Ergoline has many medicinal uses, including being used in the treatment of migraines and Parkinson’s disease.
In synthesizing LSD, Dr. Hofmann intended to create a stimulant for the respiratory and circulatory systems. The fact that his creation caused psychedelic effects wasn’t actually known until a full half decade later when Dr. Hofmann accidentally absorbed a small amount of the chemical through his fingertips. He described his first experience with LSD thus:
“…affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”
After significant research, LSD was eventually introduced as a psychiatric drug starting in 1947. It was also later used in the 1950s by the CIA in Project MKULTRA, where, among other things, the CIA illegally gave LSD to people, including the general public, without their knowing. They then studied the effects with the point of the project to attempt to use various methods, including drugs, torture, etc, to manipulating people’s brain states and functions as way to experiment with potential mind control methods.
LSD wasn’t the only popular hallucinegenic substance Dr. Hofmann was involved with. As director of natural products at Sandoz, he studied various other hallucinogenic substances, successfully synthesizing some of them, such as psilocybin, which is the main ingredient of “magic mushrooms”.
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