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'Godfather of Ecstasy' Sasha Shulgin Dies at 88

'Godfather of Ecstasy' Sasha Shulgin Dies at 88

After 4,000 “trips” on psychedelic drugs, discovering and testing hundreds of mind-altering chemicals, and penning the results of his and wife and co-author Ann’s findings in two separate volumes, Sasha Shulgin–a man who has been dubbed the “Father of Ecstasy”–has passed away. He was 88. 

According to the International Business Times, the American medical chemist and pharmacologist died at precisely 5 o’clock pm on June 2 in his California home after being diagnosed with liver cancer. His wife announced his passing via Facebook. Ann’s post said “he was surrounded by family and caretakers and Buddhist meditation music, and his going was graceful, with almost no struggle at all.”

Shulgin’s bout with liver cancer was not much of a battle, as he apparently never knew he was dying of the disease–something his wife Ann said was a decisive choice after revealing to her husband’s fans on Facebook in April that he had been diagnosed with “mild dementia.”

Shulgin was best known for his introduction of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine)–also known as its street name of Ecstasy–to psychologists ,and helping to popularize it as a recreational drug in the 1980s. The effort afforded him the nickname as father of the “love drug,” as MDMA causes a surge in levels of a powerful hormone which bonds people, called oxytocin, in the brain.

Among several papers detailing his work in pharmacology, Shulgin’s two most notable publications were in the form of his two books, titled PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved) and TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved). Both works, totaling more than 800 pages, are available online for free, following Shulgin’s belief that every individual should have “the license to explore the nature of his own soul,” the Times notes. 

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