The legendary discovery of LSD – The Bicycle Day 19.04.1943. The discovery of LSD is a fascinating story closely linked to the personality and scientific career of Albert Hofmann. On April 19, 1943, Hofmann accidentally discovered the psychoactive effects of LSD while searching for a new circulatory stimulant. This discovery revolutionized the world of psychedelics and influenced research in this area.
Hofmann was a Swiss chemist who worked for Sandoz in the 1930s, searching for new drugs and discovering a number of compounds that were promising for medical research. One of these compounds was LSD-25, a synthetic version of ergot, which had been known for centuries as a medicinal remedy. However, Hofmann was not looking for a psychoactive substance. He was more interested in the medical properties of LSD, which he referred to as “model psychoses.” In 1938, he synthesized LSD-25 for the first time, but did not know about the psychoactive properties of this compound. It was only five years later when he accidentally inhaled a small amount of LSD-25 that he discovered the effects of this compound.
On April 16, 1943, Hofmann synthesized a small amount of LSD-25 again, which he would later describe as “one of the strongest substances” he had ever produced. Three days later, on April 19, 1943, he decided to take a small dose of 250 micrograms to test the effects of LSD. At that time, Hofmann had no idea that he was about to discover the psychoactive effects of LSD.
After taking the substance, Hofmann initially felt nothing. He continued to work in his laboratory for a while before heading home. However, strange things suddenly started to happen on the way home. Soon, he began to experience intense visual hallucinations and a complete distortion of his perception. He described his experience as “a world of a thousand colors that seemed to move in infinite motion.” According to him, he felt a kind of trance that changed the colors and shapes of his environment.
In a desperate attempt to get home, Hofmann got on his bicycle, which was a difficult task as he was in a state of disorientation. Eventually, he could no longer stay upright and fell off his bike. He experienced strong hallucinations and altered perceptions of space and time. Hofmann felt that the road began to ripple and that he began to float. Although Hofmann experienced some fear and confusion during this time, he found most of his experience to be positive and later explained that he had gained a deeper appreciation for nature and the human experience.
In the days and weeks following this incident, Hofmann continued to experiment with LSD. He reported his findings to his employer, Sandoz, and LSD was eventually marketed as a drug. Among other things, it was available as a medication called Delysid in pharmacies at that time. In the 1950s and 1960s, LSD was used by psychiatrists and psychologists as an aid in psychotherapy.
The day Hofmann discovered LSD has become known as “Bicycle Day” and is celebrated every year on April 19. This day is considered an important milestone in the history of psychedelics and has helped to focus research on the use of LSD and other psychedelic compounds in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The discovery of LSD and Bicycle Day also helped to bring about significant changes in culture and art in the 1960s. At that time, the “Psychedelic Revolution” emerged, inspired by LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs, ushering in a new era of creativity and cultural change.
In modern times, research on LSD and other psychedelics has regained significance as more and more studies demonstrate that these substances could play a promising role in the treatment of mental illnesses.
The day of Hofmann’s bicycle ride that led him on an unexpected journey has become an important event in the history of psychedelics. Every year, on April 19th, Bicycle Day is celebrated to commemorate the discovery of LSD. This day reminds us of how a seemingly random occurrence can change and shape an entire culture and consciousness about life.
Check if a Bicycle Day event is being organized in your city and help the movement by joining like-minded individuals for a bike ride in the fresh air. Tours are usually organized in every major city, including bicycleday.info for the Berlin area.
Additionally, you can find some interesting interviews that Mr. Albert Hofmann gave throughout his lifetime.