Study: Psychedelic ‘Magic Mushrooms’ May Help Cancer Patients

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Boxes containing magic mushrooms sit on a counter at a coffee and smart shop in Rotterdam.

REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

The psychedelic ’60s might safely and purposely make a comeback, according to a controversial new study.

Researchers who carried out the pilot study claimed that one session with the drug psilocybin, a classified illegal and active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” radically improved moods and reduced anxiety and depression for patients with advanced stage cancer.

A moderate dose of the hallucinogen was administered voluntarily to 12 terminal cancer patients who were suffering from anxiety. During the initial hours of their treatment the volunteers were encouraged to lie in bed, wear dark eye shades and listen to music, essentially to “space out.” Their progress was then monitored over a six-month period using standard screening tests.

All the volunteers tolerated the treatment sessions well, without any signs of severe anxiety or a “bad trip.” (See the classics of stoner cinema.)

The results demonstrated a substantial improvement in symptoms of anxiety and at six months recorded a statistically significant improvement on one depression scale. This outcome indicates that the study may be the first step in restoring the drug’s flawed reputation from the 1960s and 1970s when it was widely abused for non-medical reasons.

-Claire McCormack

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