According to new research from the New York University's Langone Medical Center, what many people call "shrooms," or “magic” mushrooms may help to relieve the psychological suffering commonly experienced by cancer patients.
Earlier studies indicate that psilocybin may help ease depression and increase openness, however the new study goes a step further.
Psilocybin may offer some powerful relief for the “existential distress” that can accompany a cancer and cancer treatment, according to Anthony P. Bossis, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine at the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) and Langone Medical Center.
Side effects from cancer and treatment can range from physical pain of illness and chemotherapy to emotional, spiritual and existential distress, and include depression, anger, denial, social isolation, hopelessness, and loss of independence, all of which may be alleviated with psilocybin.
Although the exact way in which psilocybin works remains unclear, the drug has been found to induce a “mystical or peak consciousness state” in users.
Patients who have received psilocybin clinically report "less anxiety, improved quality of life, enhanced psychological and spiritual well-being, and a greater acceptance of the life-changes brought on by cancer,” writes Bossis in a new book, Psychological Aspects of Cancer: A Guide to Emotional and Psychological Consequences of Cancer, Their Causes, and Their Management.
The book reports details of an ongoing study, in which patients receive one session with psilocybin and one with a placebo.
Prior to the sessions, one patient reported experiencing extreme fatigue, pain, overall body aches, discomfort, and psychological distress due both to cancer and intensive biweekly chemotherapy. He was also increasingly anxious and depressed.
After receiving psilocybin treatment, with no changes to chemotherapy schedule or additional surgical procedures, the patient reported improvements in attitude, coping, and mood.
Even more than four months after receiving the psilocybin treatment, the patient said his "quality of life is dramatically improved.”
"This is a landmark study in many ways," said Dr. Stephen Ross, clinical director of the Center of Excellence on Addiction at New York University's Langone Medical Center, who was not involved in the research. "This is the first time a paper like this has come out in a prestigious psychiatric journal in 40 years."
What do you think? If you were facing cancer and chemotherapy would you be willing to give mushrooms a try? Share your comments below.
Read the press release.
NYU seeks volunteers for psilocybin cancer study.
Johns Hopkins University seeks volunteers for psilocybin cancer study.
Read more about psilocybin and cancer in the "Pilot Study of Psilocybin Treatment for Anxiety in Patients With Advanced-Stage Cancer."