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Psilocybin Reduces Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients
by admin on: January 18th, 2012

A study published online in the journal Archives of Psychiatry (September, 2010) has established the safety and feasibility of administering moderate doses of psilocybin ??? the active ingredient in ???magic mushrooms??? ??? to patients diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer that present with anxiety. Psilocybin is classified as a hallucinogen and is derived from mushrooms from the tropical and subtropical regions of the United States, Mexico, and South America. The hallucinogenic effect of psilocybin is likened to the effects produced by LSD. Namely, an altered perception of time and an inability to tell the difference between a perceived fantasy and reality. Of course, these effects are only experienced when this drug is ingested at hallucinogenic levels.

Previous studies between the 1950s and the 1970s experimented with hallucinogens to treat the feelings of anxiety, despair, and isolation that are often experienced by people suffering from advanced stage cancer. These older studies described patients experiencing ???epiphanies??? that often resulted in sustained improvement in both anxiety and mood. In some cases, these patients also experienced a diminished need for powerful narcotic pain medications.

The dose of psilocybin used in the current study was discussed with federal and state regulation agencies, a hospital review board, and various associated research committees. After deliberating, it was decided that a moderate dose (0.2 mg/kg) would be sufficient for this study. Although lower than previous studies using psilocybin, it was thought this dose would be efficacious for providing a level of therapeutic benefit. The study consisted of twelve adult patients that were diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer, and with anxiety. In a double blind experiment, the patients receiving psilocybin did experience a decrease in anxiety and depression two weeks after the drug was administered without any cardiovascular side effects. In addition, patients that continued to receive psilocybin treatments experienced a statistically significant decrease in their level of depression.

Although further studies are required, the research thus far looks extremely promising.

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