In the world of psychedelics, very few substances have been used as widely throughout history as psilocybin. This powerful hallucinogen is the active psychotropic chemical in many different species of mushrooms which humans and animals have been consuming for thousands of years. While college students and Pink Floyd fans have been known to use these mushrooms recreationally, many indigenous and religious knowledge systems regard the drug as a powerful medicine or even a gateway to other planes of existence. Showing just how behind “modern” medicine can be, clinical medical researchers have in recent decades begun to test the compound as a cure for various mental and behavioral issues or even to help smokers kick the habit.
To add to the growing excitement over the potential health benefits of this ancient drug, two new studies recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology have found that so-called “magic mushrooms” might be the next big drug to help terminally ill individuals relieve their anxieties or fears about dying.
According to one study, a moderate dose of magic mushrooms was found to soothe the fears and worries of terminal cancer patients:
[...] psilocybin produced immediate, substantial, and sustained improvements in anxiety and depression and led to decreases in cancer-related demoralization and hopelessness, improved spiritual well-being, and increased quality of life.
Aside from the immediate effects, the second study found that these mental benefits persisted for up to six months after patients’ initial “trip:”
At 6-month follow-up, these changes were sustained, with about 80% of participants continuing to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety. Participants attributed improvements in attitudes about life/self, mood, relationships, and spirituality to the high-dose experience, with >80% endorsing moderately or greater increased well-being/life satisfaction.
Of course, FDA approval will be needed before any clinical approval can be granted, and those types of applications can last years. For now though, terminally ill patients can rest assured knowing that their friendly neighborhood jam band fan might be able to procure just what they need to come to terms with their own mortality.