Lysergic Acid Diethylamide as an Analgesic Agent
Kast EC, Collins VJ
Anesth. Analg. Curr. Res, 1964; 43:285-291
Introduction from the article:
An ideal analgesic agent has not yet been discovered. The criteria for such
would be: to give relief from pain, offer no impairment of the sensorium, maintain interest
in life, have no unpleasant side effects, and be longer lasting and effective in a higher
percent of cases. In the quest for such a remedy, we explored the analgesic action of
lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25), an ergot derivative which has a number of psychic
effects in humans. This is a preliminary report on the analgesic actions of LSD-25.
Review/summary by Doug Fraser:
There are two aspects to the sensation of pain: the neurophysiological and
As LSD has a significant psychological effect, it was thought that it could serve as an
analgesic due to certain properties. One of these is the production of the subject's
inability to maintain selective attention; this should alleviate both the physical and
psychological aspects of pain. LSD also promotes a dissolution of ego boundaries to
some extent, thus the need for a sense of bodily integrity should be lessened.
As the nature of a LSD experience precluded a double blind study, a comparison
performed. First, the 50 gravely ill subjects (with a variety of diseases such as cancer
and gangrene) received either Demerol or Dilaudid upon the initial complaint of pain. Six
hours later, they received another randomized dose. On the 3rd complaint, they received
100mcg of LSD. Based on observers' opinions and the patient's statements and actions, a
variety of statistics were computed.
Contrary to expectations, and though the objective measures showed that the
of LSD were more profound that either of the other drugs, 3/5th of the subjects were
indifferent to receiving another dose and 1/5th was opposed. This result could possibly
be attributed to the extra psychic effort needed when experiencing LSD - the heightened
subconscious activity places a strain on ego control. It was noted that the patients
"displayed a peculiar disregard for the gravity of their situation and talked freely about
their impending death with an affect considered inappropriate in our western civilization,
but most beneficial to their own psychic states". Thus future research should investigate
combining other drugs with LSD in order to attenuate the experience and make it more
acceptable to the patient.
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