At a handful of sites across the country, after a four-decade hiatus, psychedelic research is undergoing a quiet renaissance, thanks to scientists like Charles Grob who are revisiting the powerful mind-altering drugs of the 1960s in hopes of making them part of our therapeutic arsenal. Hallucinogens such as psilocybin, MDMA (better known as Ecstasy), and the most controversial of them all, LSD, are being tested as treatments for maladies that modern medicine has done little to assuage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, drug dependency, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cluster headaches, and the emotional suffering of people with a terminal illness.
While Grob's study is not complete--he has tested 11 out of a projected 12 volunteers--patients seemed to have positive experiences. "No one had a bad trip, and most derived some benefit," he says. "It lowered their anxiety, improved their mood and disposition, and imbued them with a greater acceptance of their situation and capacity to live in the moment and appreciate each day."