The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Albert Hofmann

Dr. Albert Hofmann
Dr. Albert Hofmann

Dr. Albert Hofmann (born 11 January 1906) is a prominent Swiss scientist and best known as the "father" of LSD. He was born in Baden, Switzerland, and studied chemistry at the University of Zurich. His main interest was the chemistry of plants and animals, and he later conducted important research regarding the chemical structure of the common animal substance chitin, for which he received his doctorate. Hofmann joined the pharmaceutical-chemical department of Sandoz Laboratories, Basel (now Novartis), studying the medicinal plants squill and ergot as part of a program to purify and synthesize active constituents for use as pharmaceuticals.

With Anita,
With Anita, 1950

His research in lysergic acid, the central shared component of ergot alkaloids, eventually led to the synthesis of LSD-25 in 1938. It was five years later, on repeating synthesis of the almost forgotten substance, that Dr. Hofmann discovered the psychedelic effects of LSD after accidentally ingesting some through his fingertips on April 16 1943. Three days later, on April 19 (later known as Bicycle Day), Hofmann deliberately consumed 250 µg of LSD, and experienced far more intense effects (see: LSD for details). This was followed by a series of self-experiments conducted by Hofmann and his colleagues. He first wrote about these experiments on April 22.

He became director of the natural products department at Sandoz and went on studying hallucinogenic substances found in Mexican mushrooms and other plants used by the aboriginal people. This lead to the synthesis of psilocybin, the active agent of many "magic mushrooms".

Hofmann also got interested in the seeds of the Mexican magic morning glory species Rivea corymbosa, the seeds of which are called Ololiuhqui by the natives. He was very surprised to find the active compound of Ololiuhqui chemically very similar to LSD.

In 1962, he and his wife Anita travelled to southern Mexico to search for the magic plant ska Maria Pastora (leaves of Mary the shepherdess), later known as Salvia divinorum. He was able to obtain samples of this plant but never succeeded in identifying its active chemicals.

Dr. Pharm. (hc) Dr. Sc.Nat. (hc) Hofmann is Member of the Nobel Prize Committee , Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences , Member of the International Society of Plant Research and the American Society of Pharmacognosy .

He has been author of over 100 scientific articles and has written (or co-authored) a number of books, including LSD, My Problem Child, which is partly an autobiography and describes his famous bicycle ride.

Further reading

  • Wasson, Robert Gordon / Hofmann, Albert / Ruck, Carl A. P. (1978): The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries (Ethno-Mycological Studies, No. 4). Harcourt. ISBN 0151778728
  • Schultes, Richard Evans / Hofmann, Albert (1980): Plants of the Gods: Origins of Hallucinogenic Use. Random House / Arrow. ISBN 0091416000
  • Hofmann, Albert (1981): LSD, My Problem Child. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0070293252
  • Hofmann, Albert (2001): LSD - Mein Sorgenkind. Klett-Cotta. ISBN 3-608-94300-5

External links

Last updated: 05-07-2005 15:07:18
Last updated: 05-07-2005 18:09:53