Magic-mush­room com­pound boosts can­cer pa­tients’ mind­set

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

Can­cer pa­tients of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence men­tal an­guish and stress, but a sin­gle dose of a hal­lu­cino­gen found in psy­che­delic mush­rooms, along with psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­sel­ing, im­proved their mind­set, two stud­ies said Thurs­day.

The ap­proach “sig­nif­i­cantly lessens men­tal an­guish in dis­tressed can­cer pa­tients for months at a time,” said the find­ings in the Jour­nal of Psy­chophar­ma­col­ogy. The first study, led by re­searchers at New York Univer­sity’s Lan­gone Med­i­cal Cen­ter, in­volved 29 peo­ple who were given psilo­cy­bin, a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring com­po­nent of so-called “magic mush­rooms” that is an il­le­gal drug in the United States.

All the peo­ple in the study had ad­vanced can­cers, whether in­volv­ing the breasts, gas­troin­testi­nal tract or blood. They had also been di­ag­nosed as suf­fer­ing from se­ri­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress re­lated to their dis­ease. Af­ter their treat­ment, 80 per­cent ex­pe­ri­enced last­ing re­lief from their dis­tress for more than six months.

A sim­i­lar study by re­searchers at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity in­volv­ing 51 pa­tients also showed big im­prove­ments in anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. Most pa­tients said their qual­ity of life im­proved, and they had more en­ergy, bet­ter re­la­tion­ships with fam­ily mem­bers and were do­ing well at work. “Sev­eral also re­ported vari­a­tions of spir­i­tu­al­ity, un­usual peace­ful­ness, and in­creased feel­ings of al­tru­ism,” said NYU Lan­gone in a state­ment.

“Our re­sults rep­re­sent the strong­est ev­i­dence to date of a clin­i­cal ben­e­fit from psilo­cy­bin ther­apy, with the po­ten­tial to trans­form care for pa­tients with can­cer-re­lated psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress,” said lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor Stephen Ross, di­rec­tor of sub­stance-abuse ser­vices in psy­chi­a­try depart­ment at NYU Lan­gone. “If larger clin­i­cal tri­als prove suc­cess­ful, then we could ul­ti­mately have avail­able a safe, ef­fec­tive, and in­ex­pen­sive med­i­ca­tion-dis­pensed un­der strict con­trol-to al­le­vi­ate the dis­tress that in­creases sui­cide rates among can­cer pa­tients.”

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