The history of psychedelics


We’ve come a long way in the world of psychedelics, from the experimental Woodstock era, to the controversial War on Drugs.

Psychedelics are once again attracting a great deal of attention, this time for its role in mental health treatments. These current studies, in addition to research done a few decades ago, are revealing a promising future. As a result, Governments are beginning to open up to the significant benefits, therefore green lighting clinic trials for psychedelic therapy. As we continue to discover many uses beyond recreational, we are not the first people to put them into practice. Psychedelics have been used for thousands of years, if not more, for ancient rituals and medicinal practices.

What are psychedelics? Substances that trigger a non-ordinary state of consciousness (commonly referred to as a “trip”). This class of hallucinogenic drugs substantially alter one's state of consciousness through psychological, auditory and visual changes. The most common psychedelics we see today include mescaline (LSD), psilocybin (shrooms), and DMT. Many people claim these drugs are the gateway to spiritual awakening and activating the third eye, which can therefore (in most cases) benefit mental health. 

The term "psychedelic" was coined by infamous Psychiatrist, Humphrey Osmond, derived from the Greek words ψυχή psychḗ 'soul, mind' and δηλείν dēleín 'to manifest', meaning "mind manifesting."

Brief history on psychedelics

The brilliant Swiss Chemist, Albert Hoffman, first discovered LSD in 1938, but little did he know this chemical contained psychoactive properties, and would soon become revolutionary. Flash-forward four years to 1943, Hoffman reached back in his old toolbox looking to find a potential use for LSD, during this testing phase he accidentally spilled this substance on his fingers tips, the amount was unknown, but shortly after he reported entering a euphoric state of intoxication, and describe the world as looking through a kaleidoscope. Thereafter, he realized the power of LSD. From that point on Hoffman began experimenting with LSD orally to discover and study the full effects; it was then this spiritual, medical revolution was born and the rest is history. This brought about the psychedelic era, when the use of psychedelics were completely legal. This started in the mid 1960’s, and was said to be the grooviest time for social, musical and artistic change, which was solely influenced by psychedelic drugs. Although short-lived, this era had a significant impact on society that remains relevant to this day.  

From the early 1960’s to the late 1970’s LSD was being studied and used on hundreds of psychiatric patients and addicts at Maryland’s Spring Grove Clinic. This research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and showed a significant place for psychedelic therapy in medical world. Many of the patients experienced positive results, some even life changing, unfortunately these trials were forced to stop when President Nixon declared the War on Drugs  (making all psychedelics illegal), and as a result psychedelic research was put to an end.

Despite the criminalization of these drugs, people continued with recreational use, however psychedelic therapy mostly remained at a standstill up until 2012, when the FDA allowed for the development and review of psychedelic drugs with the intention to treat serious conditions. From then to now, the stigma around psychedelics has improved as its use has gained some good publicity, making it more socially acceptable.     

How are psychedelics used?


Plant-based psychedelics have been used for thousands of years as a holistic healing practice, it was perceived by indigenous cultures that these plants promoted both physical and mental healing. 

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is used to treat mental disorders, dating back to the 1950’s, unfortunately when President Nixon declared the war on drugs. This was a tragic time for researchers and doctor’s involved in what seemed to become very successful therapies and studies. Fast-forward to the present day, psychedelics are controlled substances in most countries and we are slowly starting to see these therapies reappear.

The difference between conventional therapies and psychedelic therapy is that you are under supervision during a psychedelic session, and the drug is typically administered one time (sometimes up to three), whereas conventional medication is usually taken daily and doesn't require supervision. 


Although illegal in many countries, states, and provinces, it doesn’t stop everyone from wanting to endure a psychedelic trip! In fact, recreational use of these drugs are extremely common. We are now starting to see a push for the decriminalization of certain psychedelics and legalization for therapeutic use.  


A rapidly growing practice that has recently hit the mainstream due to the countless claims of long-term benefits. Micro dosing consists of taking small (micro) doses of a single psychedelic over a period of time (no psychoactive effect is produced this way) to reap their magical properties without actually getting high. The most common benefits include: improve creativity, boost physical energy level, emotional balance, increase performance on problems-solving tasks and to treat anxiety, depression and addiction 

The takeaway

Psychedelics may be a game-changer for people who struggle with their mental health. Wide-spread use, in addition to continued clinical trials and more funding could shift the way we use and view these supernatural drugs in the near future!  


“Life lived in the absence of the psychedelic experience that primordial shamanism is based on is life trivialized, life denied, life enslaved to the ego.”
Terence McKenna

Leave a comment