In the Swiss Alps, where the air is crystal clear, in the incredible silence, loneliness and wilderness, a person who first synthesized LSD lived out his years.
Since childhood, the creator of the most discussed drug in the world, Professor Hoffman, has sought to understand the essence and structure of matter. Studying medicinal plants, he drew attention to psychoactive substances that cause hallucinations according to the type of seers. His main invention, made more than 80 years ago, led the Western world to a real psychedelic revolution in the 60s.
About the personality of a scientist
The professor of chemistry lived among the virgin beauty of the mountains in solitude, communicating with neighbors only within the framework of generally accepted politeness. In his family, Albert Hoffman was the only one who lived to such a age. The old man did not use a hearing aid and did not wear glasses. Despite his age, he spoke clearly, had a sharp mind, was always smiling and welcoming. Its prosperity made it possible to comfortably equip a cottage with a swimming pool, lawns and terraces.
It is interesting that Albert Hoffman, who survived the centenary, himself took LSD. The creator of a substance recognized as a hard drug did this periodically. And the last time a cheerful scientist swallowed a “miracle pill” three years before his death.
The chemist was confident in the prospects of his discovery, believing that in the 21st century his brainchild would become especially relevant. He believed that the latest psychiatry, solving the riddles of the mind, will necessarily demand the most effective substance that changes the human mind, i.e., LSD-25, synthesized by him.
A joke about Hoffman is known among scientists: they say that the chemist was looking for a cure for migraine, and he came up with a headache for all of mankind - a synthetic hard drug. However, there was no accident here at all ...
The Swiss conducted his research systematically
He was interested in the legendary psychedelic properties used by medieval ergot healers. This is the name of the fungus that parasitizes on the spikelets of cereals. The chemist saw his task in the synthesis of an analogue of the ergot substance, which directly affects the human nervous system.
Albert Hoffman began his research, drawing on earlier developments. Before him, British scientists isolated ergotoxin from an ergot alkaline-containing drug. And the Rockefeller Institute researchers were able to identify the basis, the nucleus of ergot alkaloids, calling it lysergic acid.
Albert Hoffman suggested that ergotoxin is composed of different alkaloids, and began to mine them one by one. By reacting lysergic acid with ammonia derivatives (amines), a scientist in 1938 sequentially synthesized these substances. Lysergic acid diethylamide was the twenty-fifth alkaloid. In German, it was called Lyserg-saure-diaethylamid or, for short, LSD. The chemist transferred the obtained substance to the laboratory of the university and set about further research. Laboratory assistants determined the molecular formula of LSD; the substance was not investigated in more detail.
The feeling that the first LSD-25 he obtained was unsuccessful, forced Hoffman to conduct a survey again five years later. However, at the last stage of the synthesis, he was forced to stop his experiment. The reason for this was the effect of the alkaloid on the body, which caused hallucinations and color images. The scientist, always neat in experiments, was perplexed: was the reason for this a scanty amount of substance that fell on the tips of the fingers?
It was April 19, 1943.
It was World War II. The initiative in the skies of war during the air battle over the Kuban passed to the Soviet pilots. In Warsaw, in the Jewish ghetto, people rose to an unequal battle with the SS executioners. US-English troops fought in distant Tunisia. At that time, in a neutral European country, the chemist Albert Hoffman was conducting an experiment that so far interests only a few scientists.
The professor described in detail the verification of the properties of the amazing alkaloid in his book of memoirs. It was the first psychedelic experiment in the world.
The scientist took 250 micrograms of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) synthesized by him . The creator of the psychedelic substance felt the onset of anxiety, visual distortion, dizziness, severe symptoms of paralysis.
The effect of the drug on the nervous system gradually increased. The psychological effects were expressed in the suppression of the brain centers of speech. Assistant professors noted his inability to coherently make proposals.
Then Hoffman, accompanied by a colleague, rode home on a bicycle. It seemed to the doctor that he could not budge, although he was driving fast enough. The environment seemed to the experimenter a living picture of Salvador Dali: he did not notice pedestrians, the road trembled and distorted, as if in a crooked mirror, and the houses along it were deformed and covered with ripples.
Depression followed by euphoria
Arriving, the professor asked the assistant to call a doctor and take milk from a neighbor who decided to weaken the effect of the drug. The arrived doctor, except for dilated pupils, did not notice any other physiological signs of the effect of LSD on Hoffmann's body. Meanwhile, the psychological effects of the visuals were supplemented by the experimenter's delirium: the woman who brought the milk seemed to him an insidious evil witch in a brightly colored mask.
It seemed to him that he himself was obsessed with demons, and the revived furniture of his own house threatened his life.
Then Hoffman's delirium and anxiety passed. They were replaced by bright multi-colored images that appear in the form of intricate spirals and circles exploding with colored fountains. Even with closed eyes, unusual visualization continued under the influence of LSD. The creator of the drug fell into a blissful sleepy state. Waking up, the professor felt some tiredness, noting an interesting circumstance: over the next day his sensory sensitivity increased by an order of magnitude.
The physical properties of the substance synthesized by Hoffman turned out to be quite unremarkable: the absence of any taste and smell makes it invisible. Using a magnifying glass, you can see that the LSD solution crystallizes in the form of prisms. That’s probably all.
As is known, the molecular formula of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) has the form C 20 H 25 N 3 O.
Its unique pharmacological properties make it possible to provoke powerful and colorful visual hallucinations at negligible doses. Let us describe the mechanism of their occurrence.
The systems of the human brain associated with the assimilation of the “hormone of happiness” (serotonin) take an active part in it. The latter is produced in the brain as the person needs to overcome stress.
In its structure, the 25th Hoffman alkaloid is classified as indolalkylamine, a substance similar to serotonin. LSD -25, entering the human body, “deceives” the corresponding brain receptors, which take Hoffmann’s invention as his own “hormone of happiness”. In the language of neuroscientists, there is a stimulating effect of a narcotic substance on the brain's reward system (pleasure receptors that compensate for stress).
Failed drug status
Scientists at the University of Zurich were the first to study the properties of the alkaloid synthesized by Hoffmann. As it turned out, he had extremely low toxicity, that is, a person practically could not die from his overdose. (The latter is also confirmed by modern statistics: for 70 years of its existence, such cases have not been recorded). The lethal dose of LSD determined by scientists turned out to be simply cosmic; it was hundreds of times higher than the usual one.
It was determined that the effect of LSD on the body lasts from 1/3 to half a day. Three days after ingestion, the substance was completely excreted from the body, and its traces of presence were not detected.
Researchers noticed: this hard drug did not cause a person to get used to him, nor did he affect his health. He also did not provoke insanity.
In view of the above, for almost two decades (until the end of the 60s) LSD was not banned. In the 60s, scientists with his help tried to treat alcoholism, chronic depression. For this, the alkaloid property was used - to cause powerful emotional reactions close to catharsis.
LSD in the USSR
In the Soviet Union, the acid boom came with perestroika. The action of this drug was tested by two representatives of artistic bohemia: Barry Alebasov and Boris Grebenshchikov. It is no coincidence that the leader of the Aquarium group created a clearly psychedelic song, “There is a golden city under the blue sky ...” The audience in it is amazed at the colorfulness of the images conveyed in it.
In an interview, these grandees of the stage talked about the colored rings and spirals they saw. They confirmed that being under the influence of LSD, maybe, without noticing cars, calmly cross the busy highway.
Here is how the former producer of the Na-Na group describes his feelings: “Gravity disappears, people disappear, objects disappear, and a person can easily go out the window of a multi-storey building, believing that he can fly.”
Experiments were also conducted with LSD by Soviet chemists, which was not advertised. Psychiatrist Vladimir Pshizov announced them publicly. In the 60s, his colleagues did not disdain experiments on people. His colleague (we do not mention the name, patronymic) injected LSD into two groups of patients, which made the psychosis aggravated in the experimental group. The material thus obtained became the topic of his dissertation.
Taboo on LSD
By the end of the 60s, the US authorities, and then other states, banned any use of the twenty-fifth Hoffmann alkaloid: medical, recreational, spiritual. Lysergic acid (LSD) has become socially dangerous due to the fashion for it.
At the time of the Beatles, about two million Americans tried the “Hoffman's present”; it became the most controversial drug in the world. The largest producers of LSD, the Americans Picard and Eperson, provided an entire army of hippies. After their arrest and confiscation of equipment, the turnover of this drug in the world decreased by 90%.
In the 60s, Timothy Leary, a Harvard psychology professor, became the main popularizer of LSD.
Followers called him the "high priest." He really was a charismatic man. The teacher treated the “chosen” students with drugs, without first notifying them about it. He was kicked out of Harvard with a scandal, but the hippies stood by the mountain for him, considering him a martyr. Timothy Leary turned into a scandalous person: he was arrested many times, he fled.
Towards the end of his life, the "high priest", not wanting to, produced the strongest anti-advertising of lysergic acid. Timothy Leary committed suicide live, bequeathing to him "cut off his head with a brain corroded by LSD." This terrible sight caused tens of millions of people aversion and aversion to the drug.
Contrary to the ban
Dozens of years after the boom of the 60s, the LSD market decreased tenfold. However, the "hot commodity" is lysergic acid today. It is sold in small doses (from 75 to 250 mg) in different forms:
- “Mark” or “napkin” (paper impregnated with LSD solution);
- gelatin leaves;
- gel (applied to the skin);
It is extremely dangerous to take this drug, not knowing about its properties.
Among drug addicts, it is customary to do this in the society of “Sitter” - a person who is in his right mind and corrects the behavior of those who used the 25th Hoffmann alkaloid.
Celebrities and LSD
In today's society there is no single relation to the invention of the Swiss. Proponents of psychedelics are perplexed: "If there is no addiction, then what kind of drug is this?" In addition, its use as doping for intelligence is evident (we have already mentioned examples of this).
There is an opinion that lysergic acid (LSD) is not a drug in fact, but only legally. (This fact is enshrined in the UN Convention of 1971).
Not only Timothy Leary, who was maddened by reason, advocated legalization, he was praised by two Nobel laureates and two gurus of computer hardware and software.
We are talking about Francis Crick and Carey Mullis, as well as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Moreover, according to the latter, experimenting with LSD in his life "was one of the three most important things."
Apologists for this substance are cunning. It is better to listen to our fellow citizens who have experienced the hard drug LSD on themselves. What do they say?
According to them, vivid pictures and the received pleasure fade before the addict for a long time “becomes a vegetable”, falls out of the rhythm of life, “falls through time”.
When he comes to his senses after the Friday dose, then two days have passed in practice, and in the yard - Monday. In this case, of course, there can be no question of mental health. The consequences of drug use are dire: people find themselves in a mental hospital.
It is worth listening to the laconic warning present in many reviews of former drug addicts fellow citizens: “LSD carries the brain!”