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A Single Dose of This Magic Shroom Could Reduce Depression, Anxiety in Terminal Patients

Dec 02, 2016 04:06 AM EST
Mushrooms
A single dose of a hallucinogenic compound found in so-called "magic" mushrooms could help relieve depression and anxiety in patients with terminal illness.
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A new study revealed that a single dose of a hallucinogenic compound found in so-called "magic" mushrooms could help relieve depression and anxiety in patients with terminal illness.

The study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, showed that the compound, known as psilocybin, could be used as an unconventional treatment to ease the depression and anxiety being felt with patients diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"The most interesting and remarkable finding is that a single dose of psilocybin, which lasts four to six hours, produced enduring decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms, and this may represent a fascinating new model for treating some psychiatric conditions," says Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and one of the authors of the study, in a report from NBC News.

For the study, the researchers recruited 51 cancer patients with life-threatening diagnosis and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Using a randomized, double-blind, cross-over trial, the researchers compared the effects of low and high dosage of psilocybin to terminal patients with depression and anxiety. The participants were divided into two groups. The first group received a low dose of psilocybin in the first session then received a high dosage at the second session five weeks later. On the other hand, the second group first received the high dose followed by the low dosage.

During the sessions, the researchers encouraged the participants to "trust, let go and be open". The doses of psilocybin were given during the sessions, which were conducted in a living room-type. The participants were also given headphones to listen to instrumental music during their hallucinogenic trips.

At six-month follow-up, about 78 percent of the participants reported improvement of depression and 83 percent reported the same for their anxiety. In total, 57 percent of the participants reported that their anxiety had gone to remissions, while 65 percent of the participants reported the same with their depression.

With the positive results of their study, the researchers discouraged terminal patients from self-medicating with psilocybin. The researchers noted that the participants received extensive support during the course of the study.

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