HALLUCINOGENIC MUSHROOMS for CANCER TREATMENT?
Thought I would include this article from the New York Times and let you decide what you think- I find it fascinating~
"On a summer morning in 2013, Octavian Mihai ...swallowed a capsule of psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Then he put on an eye mask and headphones and lay down on a couch. Soon, images flew by like shooting stars: a spinning world that looked like a blue-green chessboard; himself on a stretcher in front of a hospital; his parents, gazing at him with aching sadness as he reached out to them, infused with childlike love.
Psilocybin has been illegal in the United States for more than 40 years. But Mr. Mihai, who had just finished treatment for Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was participating in a study looking at whether the drug can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Throughout that eight-hour session, a psychiatrist and a social worker from NYU Langone Medical Center stayed by his side.
Published Thursday, the results from that study, were striking. About 80 PERCENT OF CANCER PATIENTS SHOWED CLINICALLY SIGNIFICANT REDUCTIONS IN BOTH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION WHICH SUSTAINED FOR SEVEN MONTHS AFTER THE SINGLE DOSE. Side effects were minimal.
Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants.
“Medical marijuana got its foot in the door by making the appeal that ‘cancer patients are suffering, they’re near death, so for compassionate purposes, let’s make it available. And then you’re able to extend this drug to other purposes.”
Three years later, Mr. Mihai, now 25 and a physician assistant in Las Vegas, said, “I’m not anxious about cancer anymore. I’m not anxious about dying.” The session, he added, “has made my life richer.”
The participants in this study were all volunteers who had diagnoses of cancer-related anxiety or depression. Patients were randomly given a placebo or synthetic psilocybin, and not told which. Within seven weeks, they were given the other sample.
Researchers created seven-hour music playlists, paced to the anticipated rhythms of the drug reaction. N.Y.U. leaned toward New Age and world music — Brian Eno; sitars; didgeridoos. Johns Hopkins favored Western classical.
At N.Y.U., psychotherapists tried to layer the session into patients’ memories by asking them to write about their visions in a journal and discuss the experience in meetings. The Johns Hopkins study, led by Roland R. Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist, had monitors who urged participants to “trust, let go and be open.”
The N.Y.U. researchers assessed patients the next day and found the effects to be immediate in most of them.
Dr. Stephen Ross, the lead investigator and chief of addiction psychiatry at N.Y.U., pointed out that antidepressants, by contrast, can take weeks to show benefit. This is especially valuable when cancer patients with anxiety and depression are at an elevated risk for suicide.
As one patient puts it "I have a greater sense of peace of what might come. I’m very grateful, beyond words, for this trial. But you have to approach the session with the right intentions of why you’re doing it. Because you’re going to meet yourself. ”
Researchers do not know why psilocybin has worked in these settings. Neuroimaging scans of healthy volunteers show areas of the brain lighting up or resting during dosing. Hallucinogens activate a serotonin receptor that can lead to the alterations of consciousness reported routinely.
One theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking that is so pronounced in depressed people, making way for a mystical experience of selfless unity."