Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)-Assisted Psychotherapy in People With Illness-related Anxiety

This study will find out whether psychotherapy combined with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is safe and is helpful in people who are anxious because they have a potentially fatal disease. The study will measure anxiety and quality of life before and after people have two sessions with either full or active placebo dose of LSD. They expect LSD-assisted psychotherapy to reduce anxiety and improve quality of life.

Status Completed
Results Published Yes
Start date 02 January 2008
End date 09 January 2012
Chance of happening 100%
Phase Phase II
Design Blinded
Type Interventional
Generation First
Participants 12
Sex All
Age 18- 99
Therapy No

Trial Details

Diagnosis with a potentially fatal illness is distressing and can provoke anxiety that further reduces quality of life, and a treatment that reduces anxiety when facing deteriorating health and mortality will improve quality of life for people with such illnesses. Forty to fifty years ago, researchers investigated lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in combination with psychotherapy to treat anxiety when facing advanced stage cancer. This psychedelic (hallucinogenic) drug can produce transformative or mystical experiences and insights that can help in anxiety reduction. This study will be a randomized, active placebo controlled,double-blind pilot study of the safety and efficacy of LSD-assisted psychotherapy as a way of reducing anxiety in people with potentially fatal illnesses. This study will examine whether two sessions of LSD-assisted psychotherapy scheduled two to four weeks apart will reduce anxiety and improve quality of life for people experiencing anxiety as a result of a potentially fatal illness. Study subjects will receive either 200 or 20 mcg (micrograms) LSD during two day-long psychotherapy sessions scheduled two to four weeks apart. Subjects in this study will have a 66% of receiving the full dose of 200 mcg LSD, and they have a 33% chance of getting the active placebo dose of 20 mcg LSD. Neither the researchers nor the subject will know whether he got 200 or 20 mcg LSD. Upon participant agreement, all psychotherapy sessions will be recorded to audio and video. The randomized part of the study will last three and a half months (14 weeks). People who learn they got the active placebo dose of LSD during the randomized phase can go on to to take part in an "open label" study phase, where they will get the full dose of LSD during two day-long psychotherapy sessions scheduled two to four weeks apart. "Open label" means that they and the researchers will both be aware that they are getting the full dose of LSD. Participants who received the full dose of LSD and took part in all study visits will be assessed for symptoms of anxiety and depression and quality of life 12 months after their final experimental session.

NCT Number NCT00920387

Sponsors & Collaborators

MAPS stands for Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, it's the front runner in making psychedelics a legal way to use (and improve) in therapy.


LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with a life-threatening disease: a qualitative study of acute and sustained subjective effects
This follow-up study (n=10) found long-term (12-month) positive outcomes from a single high-dose of LSD (200 μg) in combination with psychotherapy. The positive effects included reduced anxiety and a higher quality of life.

Safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases
This double-blind, cross-over study (n=12) showed that LSD (200 μg, 2 sessions) in combination with psychotherapy was safe to use and trended towards a positive effect on end-of-life anxiety.

Measures Used

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) is a commonly used measure of trait and state anxiety. The STAI measures two types of anxiety – state anxiety, anxiety about an event, and trait anxiety, anxiety level as a personal characteristic.

Hamilton Depression Rating Scale
The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) is a multiple item questionnaire used to provide an indication of depression, and as a guide to evaluating recovery. The scale consists of 17 items which each item being scoring on a 3 or 5 point scale. The higher the score, the more likely a person is depressed.

Visual Analogue Scale
The Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) is widely used to measure pain. A patient is asked to indicate their perceived pain intensity (most commonly) along a 100 mm horizontal line, and this rating is then measured from the left edge (=VAS score).

Data attribution

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