Skeptics of alternative medicine may take perverse joy in the fact that 29 attendees of a holistic medicine conference in Germany may have accidentally taken an LSD-like drug. The "Heilpraktikers" were found on Friday in the hotel in Handeloh where they were holding their conference, "staggering around, rolling in a meadow, talking gibberish, and suffering severe cramps."
The delegates were taken to hospital, where urine and blood tests revealed all 29 had ingested 2C-E, a synthetic hallucinogen described as having effects somewhere between LSD and ecstasy. It's been illegal in Germany since the end of 2014, and is known there (for some reason) as "Aquarust."
No one had recovered enough to speak to police until Monday, and the investigation is ongoing. A member of Germany's expert commission on narcotics, Torsten Passie, told the Independent that "it must have been a multiple overdose. That does not support the view that the people concerned took the hallucinogen knowingly."
The Association of German Healing Practitioners (VDH) represents homeopaths and other naturopaths, and could thus reasonably be seen as connected to this particular conference. Eager to separate itself from whatever happened in Handeloh, the VDH quickly said none of its representatives were involved in the mass drugging (or drug-taking) and claimed the conference at which it took place was "obscure," the organizers "unknown to [VDH]."
The association's spokesperson continued: "Unfortunately, the conference in Handeloh has severely damaged the image of the alternative medicine profession… and we have clarified that such acts are not in the spirit of natural therapy, and contradict our values both morally and legally.
"The Association of German Healing Practitioners (Heilpraktikers) detests such misdemeanors."
While it's understandable that VDH would want to distance itself from any appearance of frivolity—there's widespread skepticism over "natural medicine" and the lack of regulation of the discipline makes it easy for quacks to intermingle with legitimate practitioners—there is legitimate scientific research backing up the use of psychedelic drugs, especially LSD and the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," to treat some mental illnesses. Who knows? Maybe the Handeloh homeopaths weren't dosed; maybe they were doing some real-deal, legitimate medicinal research.
Or then again, maybe they just wanted to do some Aquarust.
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