Sasha Shulgin is known by many as the “Godfather of Ecstasy” due to his role in inventing the popular party drug. It wasn’t the only chemist’s only achievement, however, and it’s proper to remember a brilliant scientist upon his death.
NPR reports that Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin died at his home at the age of 88. While he is credited, and simultaneously loved and hated, for the creation of ecstasy, it wasn’t only his only achievement. In fact, he is credited with discovering and personally testing over 230 psychoactive compounds.
Shulgin got his start in the U.S. Navy where he became fascinated with the mind after discovering a placebo knocked him out. From there, he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. It wasn’t until he started working at Dow Chemical Company that he became interested in hallucinogens. It was there that he first ingested mescaline and came to believe that psychedelic drugs offered a glimpse into the universe that dwells in the human mind.
Following his revelation, Shulgin set up his own research facility where he synthesized MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy. He also began to work on other hallucinogens that he tested on himself and those close to him. In fact, his wife, Ann Shulgin, helped with his research greatly and co-authored books on the drugs they created.
Unfortunately, Shulgin’s health took a turn for the worse last week after suffering from dementia since 2010.
On June 2, Shulgin’s wife updated his Facebook fan page to let admirers know that he had died surrounded by family:
While the merits of Shulgin’s research will be debated for years to come, one can’t deny that the man was a genius. His work greatly expanded our understanding of chemical compounds and their effect on the body and mind.
Image via Wikimedia Commons