Cancer patients suffering from anxiety and depression have seen their morale improve after taking psilocybin, a hallucinogenic molecule.
A hallucinogenic molecule or mushroom and all worries fly away. With just one intake of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic molecule found in famous hallucinogenic mushrooms, anxiety, and depression in advanced cancer patients were relieved for 6 months, report researchers from the New York Langone Medical Center and John Hopkins (United States).
“Dealing with life-threatening cancer can be psychologically devastating, causing anxiety and depression,” says Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Patients suffering from this existential angst feel hopeless and worry about the meaning of life and what happens after death ”.
Synthetic (LSD) or natural (mushroom), the psychotropic effects of these drugs have been evaluated since the 1950s, and their benefits on depression recognized . But their recreational use, especially in the United States, put the brakes on this work. It is only in the last fifteen years that research in psychiatry has turned again to these psychedelics.
An improvement in psychological distress
To conduct their work , presented in the Journal of Psychopharmacology , the researchers opted for a double-blind clinical trial. Some 80 patients with cancer in the metastatic stage, or suffering from a relapse, agreed to participate. Half of them received a single dose of 0.3 milligrams per kilogram of psilocybin, while the other half swallowed a vitamin placebo known to cause sensations similar to hallucinogenic molecules. Neither the volunteers nor the doctors knew who was receiving the drug or the placebo. After 7 weeks, the participants then changed groups.
After 6 months, the results obtained with the treatment are very encouraging. Over 80% of patients who received psilocybin report feeling much better. Anxiety and depression are just bad memories. In the John Hopkins trial, the second prescription for psilocybin was higher. A higher dose that caused nausea, paranoia, headaches or high blood pressure. Adverse effects not seen with the low doses used in the NYU Langone trial.
« Our results represent the strongest evidence to date of the clinical benefits of psilocybin, with the ability to transform the care of patients with cancer and psychological distress, » said Stephen Ross, head of this work and director from the Addiction Service in the Department of Psychiatry at New York Medical University (NYU Langone).
The authors note that this treatment could also be effective in patients suffering from depression but not suffering from cancer. However, « psilocybin may not work in everyone and some group of patients, such as schizophrenics and adolescents, should not be treated with it, » said Anthony Bossis, professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone, adding that he do not attempt to treat yourself with this molecule without the support of a specialist doctor.