Monday, December 5, 2016

Hallucinogen aids 80 percent, two studies signal

Clinical tests of shrooms show psilocybin can ease depression and anxiety in cancer patients

The salient ingredient of "magic mushrooms," it's just been discovered, can ease depression and anxiety in cancer patients.

In a story by Jan Hoffman in last week's editions of The New York Times, two studies of psilocybin are cited.

The hallucinogen, it said, significantly reduced both psychological disorders in about 80 percent of the 80 cancer patients studied.

With minimal side effects.

The response, according to the story, was "sustained some seven months after the single dose."

In both clinical trials, the Times piece indicated, "the intensity of the mystical experience described by patients correlated with the degree to which their depression and anxiety decreased."

The studies, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, took place at New York and Johns Hopkins universities.

Psilocybin's been illegal in the United States for more than four decades. But trials of the substance — "for alcoholism, tobacco addiction and treatment-resistant depression" — are underway in both the United States and Europe.

Trials of other illegal drugs are also underway.

Just this week, the Times said, "the Food and Drug Administration approved a large-scale trial investigating MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy, for post-traumatic stress disorder."

Cancer-related psychological distress, "which afflicts up to 40 percent of patients, the story went on, "can be resistant to conventional therapy."

Hoffman's article also stated that "in the 1940s and 1950s, hallucinogens were studied in hundreds of trials. But by 1970, when those drugs were placed in the most restricted regulatory category, research ground to a near halt."

However, "since about 2000, investigators have begun studying them [again], mostly with private funding."
Dr. Stephen Ross
Dr. Stephen Ross, the lead investigator and chief of addiction psychiatry at NYU, was quoted as saying, "Cancer patients with anxiety and depression need help immediately, especially if you consider that they are at elevated risk for completed suicide."

According to the Associated Press, Dr. Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins said "it's not clear whether psilocybin would work outside of cancer patients, although he suspects it might work in people facing other terminal conditions."

But Dr. George Greer, co-founder of the Heffter Research Institute, which funded the two studies, apparently doesn't see a commercial use for psilocybin, which is also called shrooms, purple passion or little smoke, "because these patients needed only one dose."

Instead, according to The Times, "he envisions a nonprofit manufacturer, with distribution restricted to specialized clinics."

Details of other cancer-related research can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, have aimed at male caregivers.

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