“Alexander Shulgin, Sasha to his friends, is nothing less than the Godfather of Psychopharmacology and an expert on the psycho sized phenethylamines, that is psychoactive compounds useful in the emotional recovery of traumatic events. Shulgin has given his life to the study of the pharmacology of the psychedelic experience.”

– Terence McKenna


Dr. Alexander ´Sasha´ Shulgin was an American chemist, pharmacologist, psychopharmacologist, and author. Over the span of 50 years, he created more new psychedelic drugs than any other person to date. Nearly 250 by his own accounts. He was bestowed the title ´Godfather of Ecstasy´ because he rediscovered the drug MDMA. Founded initially by Merck in 1912, Sasha resynthesized it to its purest form and established its use as a tool in clinical psychedelic therapy for a short time. As with all other psychedelics, MDMA escaped the lab and found its place smack in the middle of the budding rave culture. This led to the official ban in 1985 by the US Government. (listen a detailed podcast about his life here)


“I am not searching for altering consciousness, having fun, enjoying this, or discovering that. I am looking for tools that can be used for studying the mind, and other people will then use them to find out the aspects of mental process and how it ties to the brain. But my main drive is the making of tools and letting other people exploit them.” – Sasha Shulgin 


He has co-written two books with his wife Ann, detailing his endeavours , Pihkal and Tihkal. Famously, the couple used themselves as test subjects for all newly discovered drug compounds. One of their friends, the psychologist and noted fellow psychonaut Timothy Leary, told The Los Angeles Times in 1995, “I consider Shulgin and his wife to be two of the most important scientists of the 20th century.” (New York Times article)

Sasha and Ann Shulgin. Artwork by Alex Grey

“We both have the same interests, but our viewpoints are different: He has the scientific viewpoint, and I have the psychological and the spiritual. We supplement each other in our writing.” – Ann Shulgin


Each chemical recipe included ratings on the “Shulgin scale,” up to Plus Four, “a rare and precious transcendental state, which has been called a peak experience.” In a 2007 interview with this reporter, Dr. Shulgin said he had achieved only “two or three” Plus Four experiences among an estimated 4,000 psychedelic trips in his lifetime. (read more here)


“If we can’t make love on a drug, there is something that is not quite right.” – Ann Shulgin 


Sasha Shulgin died in 2014 at his home in Lafayette, California, at age 88. His legend, however, will live on forever.


Dirty Pictures delves into the lifework of Dr. Shulgin and scientists alike and explores the world of these scientists; their findings and motivations, their ideas, and their beliefs as to how research in this particular field can aid in unlocking the complexities of the mind.




Funga has also added a video link to Hamilton´s Pharmacopeia – The Man who Birthed Ecstasy in a Test-Tube.

Alexander Shulgin and Hamilton Morris