Research ethics aspects of experimentation with LSD on human subjects: a historical and ethical review

  • Bodnár Kristóf János Email author
  • Kakuk Péter 
Review Article


In this paper our aim is to examine whether research conducted on human participants with LSD-25 (lysergic acid diethylamide) raises unique research ethical questions or demands particular concerns with regard to the design, conduct and follow-up of these studies, and should this be the case, explore and describe those issues. Our analysis is based on reviewing publications up to date which examine the clinical, research and other uses of LSD and those addressing ethical and methodological concerns of these applications, just as some historical examinations of this subject. The first chapters of the paper give an overview regarding the history of LSD-research with human participants, healthy volunteers and patients alike. The remaining chapters have a focus on questions regarding the potential ethical issues of such human trials in the contemporary research ethics framework. We also consider briefly political and regulatory issues regarding this substance that possibly affect its clinical and research applications.


Research ethics Clinical trial Lysergic acid diethylamide LSD research Psychedelic research 



We would like to thank the thorough professional assistance of the faculty members The Bioethics Program at Clarkson University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with particular respect to the extensive support in shaping this paper to professors Rosamond Rhodes and Sean Philpott-Jones, together with our colleges and friends for their valuable comments and insights, Dr. Levente Móró, Dr. Attila Szabó, Dr. Gergely Szabó and Szabina Péter. We are very grateful to both our reviewers for their efforts and exceptionally useful comments they’ve provided us with. Research reported in this publication was supported in part by the Fogarty International Center of the US National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25TW007085. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the US National Institutes of Health.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Humanities, School of Public Health, Institute of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary

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