Study Finds Magic Treatment for Terminally Ill Patients

Originally appeared at: According to a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, advanced-stage cancer patients struggling with anxiety over their terminal condition found some much-needed relief from a novel source. Magic Mushrooms. With trained therapists guiding their trips, patients in a test study were given doses of psilocybin—the ingredient that gives mushrooms their “magic”—to see whether the Schedule I drug could ease the fear of their impending mortality. The two six-hour sessions included headphones and music, but reportedly no black light or laser show. Patients reported feeling less anxious after the doses, and psychological assessments showed that their moods significantly improved one to three months after slipping down the rabbit hole. The subjects’ scores on a common depression index fell by 30 percent, indicating the psychedelic drug had positive effects in its clinical application. No flashbacks were reported, and no patient left believing he was a glass of orange juice in danger of tipping over. “Safe physiological and psychological responses were documented during treatment sessions,” the report states. “We also observed no adverse psychological effects from the treatment. All subjects tolerated the treatment sessions well, with no indication of severe anxiety or a ‘bad trip’.” According to CNN, some patients felt the experience offered a fresh perspective on their illness, and brought them closer to family and friends. “Shrooms” have a long history in the counterculture, and an even longer history in shamanic and spiritual ceremonies. During the ’50s and ’60s, researchers held extensive medical and psychological tests on the potential benefits of hallucinogenic drugs. But by the 1970s, shifts in the political and cultural landscape forced drug buffs to pack up their projects and leave tripping to Phish groupies and college students at large. The recent experiment on terminally ill patients is the first of its kind in more than 35 years, and comes at a time when 15 U.S. states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. California is set to vote on the decriminalization of pot altogether. “This study established the feasibility and safety of administering moderate doses of psilocybin to patients with advanced-stage cancer and anxiety,” the analysis concludes. It also proves there’s something to alternative treatments beyond the looking glass. “I think we’ve established good grounds for continuing the research,” lead researcher Dr. Charles Grob says. “That’s the goal right now, just to develop more studies.” Studies are one thing, but don’t expect to see medicinal shroom dispensaries sprouting up anytime soon. America’s “War on Drugs” continues 40 years after President Nixon coined the phrase, despite evidence that outlawed alternatives to conventional medicine may ease suffering among the nation’s sick. An article that discusses the recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry suggesting that psilocybin may be useful in treating anxiety and depression in advanced-stage cancer patients.