Psychedelic Substance May Help Ease Anxiety in Cancer Patients

“Magic mushrooms” are known for their mind-altering effects, but the hallucinogenic fungi may also offer help for cancer patients dealing with anxiety.

In the first human study of its kind to be published in 37 years, researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute found psilocybin, the key psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, can safely improve the moods of patients with advanced-stage cancer and related anxiety, according to an article published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Patients, who were encouraged to chill out – lie in bed, wear eye shades and listen to music – during the first few hours after taking the medication, showed an improvement of mood and reduction of anxiety up to six months after treatment.

“Following their treatments with psilocybin, the patients and their families reported benefit from the use of this hallucinogen in reducing their anxiety,” says Dr Charles Grob, the psychiatrist who lead the research. “This study shows psilocybin can be administered safely and that further investigation of hallucinogens should be pursued to determine their potential benefits.”

Researchers conducted investigations of psychedelic drugs in the ’50s and ’60s and found promising improvements in mood and anxiety, as well as a diminished need for narcotic pain medication among advanced-stage cancer patients. However, the research was abandoned in the early ’70s following the excesses of the swinging ’60s and the implementation of stricter laws regulating hallucinogens.

“Political and cultural pressures forced an end to these studies in the 1970s,” says Dr. Grob. “We were able to revive this research under strict federal supervision and demonstrate that this is a field of study with great promise for alleviating anxiety and other psychiatric symptoms.”

*Pic: Wikimedia; by Ralpharama.

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