LSD, History of
Uploaded by colakid on Oct 30, 2004
LSD comes from Ergot, a parasitic fungus of the genus Claviceps purpurea that grows on wild grasses, corn, rye and other grain producing plants. Fungus infected kernels grow into light brown curved “pegs” that stick out of the cornhusk. Starting in the middle Ages, midwives would use ergot to speed up childbirth. In the 18th century, chemists tried to isolate and make drugs from the compounds that affected childbirth, and overtime ergot became a source of many remedies. In 1917, Professor Arthur Stoll founded the Sandoz Company’s pharmaceutical department, and ergot research became a main topic in his Basel, Switzerland lab. Soon he isolated an alkaloid he called ergotamine that had uterine and childbirth effects. In 1932, the ergot alkaloid ergobasin was isolated at Sandoz as a uterine-specific drug. At about this time, Sandoz chemist Albert Hoffman finished other work and asked Stoll if he could work with ergot. His first goal was to partially synthesize ergobasin because its chemical structure was lysergic acid propanolamide, and Lysergic acid was the “common nucleus” of all medicinally important ergot alkaloids. Synthesis of a lysergic acid compound was important because if the natural product could be synthesized the same process could be used to chemically modify the natural compound.
Hoffman synthesized a lot of ergobasin analogs in 1938. These included lysergic acid butanolamide (Methergine) to stop postpartum bleeding. The 25th compound in this series of chemical modifications was lysergic acid diethylamide, a compound that seemed to stimulate blood circulation and respiration. In German it was called Lysergsäure-diäthylamid, or LSD-25. At this time, Sandoz stopped testing and producing LSD, but Hoffman couldn’t forget the abandoned LSD-25 and on April 16, 1943 he repeated the original LSD-25 synthesis. While he was working, he abruptly had a life-changing experience. The surroundings seemed to have changed in an odd way, and had become “more luminous, more expressive”. He also perceived “an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures with an intense kaleidoscopic play of colors.” The next day Hoffman considered his experience from the day before and decided that something he’d worked with in the lab caused the bizarre experience through skin absorption. Three days later he tried it again. He had used dichloroethylene to purify the LSD so he tried snorting dichloroethylene fumes. There was no effect, which left LSD as the only possible candidate. He carefully mixed 250 mcg (twice the strength as a 90’s street...