Who invented LSD, the mind-bending drug?

lsd lysergic acid diethylamide Sandoz Pharmaceutical Dr. Albert Hofmann

This mind-altering substance causes people to see, hear, and experience events created solely by the filters of the mind. LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide as it is scientifically named, truly is a wonder-drug. Its creator, Dr. Albert Hofmann was the very first person to experience the classic ‘acid trip.’

Working as a chemist for Sandoz Pharmaceutical, Dr. Albert Hofmann synthesized LSD for the first time in 1938, in Basel, Switzerland. Hofmann accidentally ate LSD a few years later in 1943 where he discovered its hallucinogenic effects.

Bicycle day

Less than an hour after ingestion on the fateful night of discovery, Hofmann experienced sudden and intense changes in his perception. He asked his laboratory assistant at the time to escort him home, by bicycle – as was common during the time-period. On the way, Hofmann struggled with reality and thought he was going insane. He called a doctor upon reaching home. When the house doctor arrived, he could not find anything physically wrong with the doctor except for incredibly dilated pupils. Once Hofmann was assured he wouldn’t die, his terror began to give way to a sense of the ‘trip.’

The events of the first LSD trip is known as ‘bicycle day.’ This substance with psychoactive properties and extraordinary potency, it was learned, was capable of causing significant shifts of consciousness at  incredibly low doses. Hofmann foresaw the drug as a powerful psychiatric tool due to its intense introspective nature.

The drug was the 25th he created from his experiments with ergot, a fungus that forms on rye. His research intentions were to create treatments for circulation and respiratory illnesses. Hofmann ended up manufacturing a wide range of medical drugs from this fungus. He was also the first to synthesize psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.