Albert Hofmann

Scientist, chemist, father of LSD

The Swiss Albert Hofmann is a prominent scientist in the chemical area that you simply can not ignore. Especially when you grew up in the 30’s or 40’s. The furore that he created in 1943 as ‘the man who discovered LSD’ made of him into a true ‘drugs-celebrity’. Up until today he is celebrated and honored by (mostly) hippies as if he were a god. During his study at the University of Zurich his interest was most of all drawn to the chemistry of plants and animals. He received his doctorate title not surprisingly with an important research on the chemical structure of the common animal substance chitin. At the same time he led an important research about the medical plants Scilla and Ergot as a part of a program to synthesize active substances for the use of a medicine. Albert Hofmann

His research on lysergic acid, the central shared component of ergot alkaloids, led him to the synthesis of LSD in 1938. But only five years later after this chemical accomplishment Hofmann discovers the psychedelic effect of LSD by coincidentally ingesting a little bit of the substance. This was on 19 April 1943, nowadays better known as Bicycle Day because Hofmann began hallucinating during his cycle back home. Three days later he willingly consumes a dose of LSD to be able to research the effects of it better. Since then LSD as a hallucinogen is a fact.

In 1956 Hofmann gets to know the Teonanácatl when he coincidentally reads a small news article about the ‘discovery’ of the still vivid mushroomcultus in Mexico. By then Hofmann has never heard of the mushroom but his enthousiasm is killing him. He never expected, convinced as he is of the unique aspects of LSD, that there would be more substances that could have the same aspects or even exceed them. Let alone a natural substance. But unfortunatelly there are no names or adresses in the short article so the chance to contact the discoverers seems very little. The subject keeps him busy though, for a whole year long, but he never seems to get any further.

Finally it is the French researcher Heim who lends Hofmann a helping hand and invites him to research the chemistry of Heims own cultivated mushrooms. Hofmann can not be more happy to do so! He does his trick again and synthesizes the substances psilocybine and psilocine from Heims material.

He decides to do some research on the Teonanácatl and even pays a visit to Mexico for further research, he keeps on running into more and more psychoactives. He finds out about Morning Glory seeds of the Rivea corymbosa species (Ololiuhqui). From analysis of these seeds he surprisingly finds out that their active compounds do not differ much from those of LSD.

Hofmann is the author of over a hundred articles and countless books amongst which is ‘LSD, My Problem Child’. Albert Hofmann passed at the age of 102.