Real Medical Uses For Illegal Drugs

by on November 26, 2012

Drugs aren't always what all they're cracked up to be. Think back on LSD, or cocaine, or marijuana, and you'll get the good sense that those pushing these drugs for a mass market had a trick or two up their sleeve.

So what were those tricks, what, in the interest of full disclosure, might such peddlers have revealed about their products--but just never got around to doing so?

Let's start at the top, with LSD.


Lysergic acid diethylamide, known as LSD, is a psychedelic mood enhancing drug made by a Swiss chemist, but made famous by Timothy Leary, a psychologist who conducted experiments at Harvard to show LSD's usefulness in psychiatry. He got as far as getting himself fired--and igniting a movement among hippies.

But it turns out he may have been on to something. Although highly addictive itself, LSD may in fact help with alcoholism and narcotics addiction. Although the studies are old, since experimentation was outlawed on LSD in 1972 until recently, they do indicate a high degree of success with addiction.

For example, CM Smith found 50% of his subjects were "improved" or "much improved" in his article, "A new adjuct to the treatment of alcoholism: The hallucinogenic drugs" in the 1958 Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Chwelos et al found 15 out of 16 thus improved in his "Use of d-lysergic acid diethylamide in the treatment of alcholism" in the 1959 volume, and Maclean et al deemed 46 out of 61 "improved" or "much improved" in his article, "The use of LSD-25 in the tretment of alcoholism and other psychiatric problems" published (in the same journal) in 1961.

But that's not all.

The Beckley Foundation  (cause: "to investigate scientifically the effects of psychoactive substances on the brain in order to minimise their potential harms, learn more about consciousness and brain function and, most importantly, discover and explore new avenues of potential treatment for modern man’s many ills") found very promising initial results on a  study using LSD--stripped of its psychoactive components--to prevent cluster headaches.

Their results show that three doses of the treated LSD within 10 days either broke the cycle of the cluster headaches or significantly decreased the pain and frequency of the attacks.

It's also showing promise in helping anxiety in patients with terminal illnesses. In 2008, Peter Gasser, a Swiss psychiatrist became the first medical researcher in the world to obtain government approval to do research with LSD since 1972.

The Santa Cruz Patch reports that the Santa Cruz Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is sponsoring this research, which studies how LSD-assisted psychotherapy can help anxiety among those with terminal illnesses.

The study had 12 subjects, and last year the final subject completed his last therapy session a year ago. The clinical team is currently conducting data analysis and preparing for publication, and, according to Gasser, LSD may very well have the ability to help people overcome their fear of death.


Medical marijuana is already legal in 17 states, plus Washington DC.

In fact, the trend toward legalizing medical marijuana has come so far that it has  reached the app world.

Of the most highly valued among those in the know there's Frweed Pro for iPhone and iPad  that address the needs of the medicinal marijuana community by providing the most up to date strain information available. Legal Maps, which, in states where medical marijuana is allowed, helps you locate legal shops that have the medicine you need, and Marijuana Strains and Dispensary Reviews which filters strains by their effects, lets you locate nearby dispensaries, and provides reviews that other medical marijuana patients have posted.

But the best bet for everyone in the US is Legal Maps powered by It (purportedly) works in every state where MMJ is legal. If your state allows, this app can help you locate reputable legal shops near you that stock the exact medicine you are looking for.

Two of the best are Budtender and Marijuana Strain and Dispensary Reviews.

The Florida Medical Examiners Commission found in a 2007 analysis of autopsies the rate of deaths caused by legal prescription drugs. An analysis of autopsies in 2007 released this week by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that the rate of deaths caused by prescription drugs was three times the rate of deaths caused by all illicit drugs combined.

And the uses for which people are turned towards these legal drugs are even more manifold. Psychedelic mushrooms for example, can treat cluster headaches, and, even more promising, the Mushrooms also show promise in treating OCD. A University of Arizona study showed that those with the condition went through temporary remission and in one patient, the remission lasted for a full six months. While acknowledging that that's not enough to toss all curative eggs in one basket, it certain does cause hope for greater discoveries to come.


And where would we be if we didn't take note of cocaine's long-reaching arm when it comes to all of the following; Operating as a topical anesthetic, keeping the inside plumbing flowing smoothly, and preventing motion sickness?

Cocaine has been widely hailed for years a as a wonder drug that could cure almost anything. While modern medicine has discovered much safer treatments for most of these conditions, the drug is still occasionally used as a topical anesthetic for eye, nose and throat surgeries. It has recently also been used as a topical treatment applied to the upper palate of those who suffer from severe cluster headaches.

Although scientists have largely accepted that the use of cocaine in the medical field is outweighed by the risks, the same is not true of the coca plant, where cocaine is derived from. Unlike cocaine, the plant contains multiple alkaloids (cocaine is made of only one) and is prone to less abuse because it must be consumed orally.


This one was quite the surprise. Ketamine, an animal tranquilizer, commonly referred to by the street name “special K,” has shown itself to be quite efficacious in treating depression, even in those who find no relief elsewhere.

A study by the Connecticut Mental Health Center found that 70% of their test group, none of whom had responded to traditional depression treatments, responded positively to Ketamine treatment.

Even beyond that, the drug seems able to repair neuron conniptions in the brain that have been damaged by the chronic stress of depression.

Study by study, respondents responded well to ketamine, whereas nothing else had been able to tamper down their depression. Even more interesting was the fact that the drug was able to repair neuron connections in the brain that had previously been damaged by chronic stress. Ronald Duman, the senior author of the study, noted Ketamine “is like a magic drug -- one dose can work rapidly and last for seven to 10 days.”

Under proper supervision, making use of illegal drugs to work to further your health can yield greater results that you would ever have suspected. There's still plenty of reason to tread cautiously--but plenty of reason to jump right into the waters your friends are paddling--illicit drugs may do more you ever thought possible when it comes to your emotional range, and triumphing through fire.

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