Can magic mushrooms help cancer patients?
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Salon ran a short article
on psilocybin therapy for cancer patients.
Psilocybin, the hallucinogen found in “magic” mushrooms, may have the power to help cancer patients deal with the psychological suffering associated with cancer, claims new research from the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD). Previous studies have suggested that psilocybin may help ease depression and increase “openness.” And according to Anthony Bossis, PhD, a clinical assistant professor at NYUCD and Langone Medical Center, it may also relieve cancer patients of some of the “existential distress” that can accompany a life-threatening diagnosis. “The emotional, spiritual and existential distress that can often accompany a diagnosis of cancer often goes unidentified and untreated,” says Bossis.
This is taken from the chapter, "Use of the Classic Hallucinogen Psilocybin for Treatment of Existential Distress Associated with Cancer," published in the book Psychological Aspects of Cancer
. More on this research from Science Daily
"The primary objective of this phase I, double-blind, controlled pilot study is to assess the efficacy of psilocybin administration on psychosocial distress, with the specific primary outcome variable being anxiety associated with advanced and/or recurrent cancer," said Bossis. "Secondary outcome measures will look at the effect of psilocybin on symptoms of pain perception, depression, existential/psychospiritual distress, attitudes toward illness, quality of life, and spiritual/mystical states of consciousness," said Bossis.
The clinical vignette describes a patient who, over the course of three years, experienced extreme fatigue, pain, overall body aches, discomfort and psychological distress due to cancer and intensive biweekly chemotherapy. The patient became increasingly anxious and depressed and was enrolled in two study sessions; in one he received psilocybin and the other placebo. Despite continuing the arduous chemotherapy schedule, suffering from illness, and undergoing additional surgical procedures, the patient continued to report a marked improvement in attitude, coping, and mood 18 weeks after his session and stated, "my quality of life is dramatically improved," the patient said...
The Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study is currently recruiting additional subjects. To enroll or learn more, please visit BluestoneCenter.org or nyucanceranxiety.org.