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Albert Hofmann (born January 11 1906) is a Swiss scientist best known for synthesizing Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann authored more than 100 scientific articles and has written a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child. On January 11, 2006, Hofmann became a centenarian, and was the focus of an international symposium on LSD.
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Hofmann was born in Baden, Switzerland, and studied chemistry at the University of Zürich. His main interest was the chemistry of plants and animals, and he later conducted important research regarding the chemical structure of the common animal substance chitin, for which he received his doctorate. Hofmann joined the pharmaceutical-chemical department of Sandoz Laboratories (now Novartis), located in Basel, studying the medicinal plant squill and the fungus ergot as part of a program to purify and synthesize active constituents for use as pharmaceuticals.
His research in lysergic acid, the central shared component of ergot alkaloids, eventually led to the synthesis of LSD-25 in 1938. It was five years later on repeating synthesis of the almost forgotten substance that Hofmann discovered the psychedelic effects of LSD after accidentally absorbing some through his fingertips on April 16 1943 . Three days later, on April 19 (later known as Bicycle Day after his bicycle ride home that day while under LSD's influence), Hofmann deliberately consumed 250 micrograms of LSD, and experienced far more intense effects (see: LSD for details). This was followed by a series of self-experiments conducted by Hofmann and his colleagues. He first wrote about these experiments on April 22 of the same year. He became director of the natural products department at Sandoz and went on studying hallucinogenic substances found in Mexican mushrooms and other plants used by the aboriginal people. This led to the synthesis of psilocybin, the active agent of many "magic mushrooms."
Hofmann also became interested in the seeds of the Mexican morning glory species Rivea corymbosa, the seeds of which are called Ololiuhqui by the natives. He was surprised to find the active compound of Ololiuhqui, ergine (lysergic acid amide), to be closely related to LSD.
In 1962, he and his wife Anita traveled to southern Mexico to search for the plant "Ska Maria Pastora" (Leaves of Mary the Shepherdess), later known as Salvia divinorum. He was able to obtain samples of this plant but never succeeded in identifying its active chemicals.
Hofmann calls LSD "medicine for the soul" and is frustrated by the worldwide prohibition that has pushed it underground. "It was used very successfully for 10 years in psychoanalysis," he said, adding that the drug was hijacked by the youth movement of the 1960s and then unfairly demonized by the establishment that the movement opposed. He concedes LSD can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Categories: Swiss chemists | Psychedelic researchers
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Albert_Hofmann". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|