7 September 2010
Magic mushrooms a hit with cancer patients
by Kate Melville
Psilocybin, an hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms, can effectively and safely improve the moods of patients with advanced-stage cancer who are also suffering anxiety, claims a new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry. It is the first study of its kind to be published in more than 35 years.
The researchers say that patients enrolled in the study, at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, demonstrated improvement of mood and reduction of anxiety up to six months after undergoing treatment, with significance reached at the six-month point on the "Beck Depression Inventory" and at one and three months on the "State-Trait Anxiety Inventory."
"We are working with a patient population that often does not respond well to conventional treatments," said LA BioMed's Charles S. Grob, who led the research team. "Following their treatments with psilocybin, the patients and their families reported benefit from the use of this hallucinogen in reducing their anxiety. This study shows psilocybin can be administered safely, and that further investigation of hallucinogens should be pursued to determine their potential benefits."
The new study follows on from earlier experiments with psychedelics in the 1950s and 1960s. Those research projects were abandoned in the early 1970s in the wake of widespread recreational usage that led to stiff federal laws regulating hallucinogens. "Political and cultural pressures forced an end to these studies in the 1970s," lamented 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."
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Source: Archives of General Psychiatry