The active compound in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, can improve mood and reduce anxiety and depression in terminal cancer patients, Los Angeles researchers reported Monday.
For the double blind, placebo controlled pilot study, 12 late-stage cancer patients received a moderate dose (0.2 mg/k) of psilocybin and were closely watched for 6 hours. They were told to lie still with their eyes closed as they wore headphones and listened to soothing music.
All the volunteers tolerated the treatment sessions well, with no signs of severe anxiety or a "bad trip." Most patients showed a trend of improvement in their symptoms of anxiety and at six months, and there was a statistically significant improvement on one depression scale.
The study is led by psychedelic researcher Dr. Charles Grob and is conducted at the Harbor UCLA Medical Center.
"We are working with a patient population that often does not respond well to conventional treatments," said Dr. Grob. "Following their treatments with psilocybin, the patients and their families reported benefit from the use of this hallucinogen in reducing their anxiety. This study shows psilocybin can be administered safely, and that further investigation of hallucinogens should be pursued to determine their potential benefits."
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- The Hallucinogenic Way of Dying (2004)