‘Magic mush­room’ psy­che­delic may ease anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

The psy­che­delic drug in “magic mush­rooms” can quickly and ef­fec­tively help treat anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion in cancer pa­tients, an ef­fect that may last for months, two small stud­ies show.

It worked for Di­nah Bazer, who en­dured a ter­ri­fy­ing hal­lu­ci­na­tion that rid her of the fear that her ovar­ian cancer would re­turn. And for Estalyn Wal­coff, who says the drug ex­pe­ri­ence led her to be­gin a com­fort­ing spir­i­tual jour­ney.

The work re­leased Thurs­day is pre­lim­i­nary and ex­perts say more de­fin­i­tive re­search must be done on the ef­fects of the sub­stance, called psilo­cy­bin (sih-loh-SY’-bihn). But the record so far shows “very im­pres­sive re­sults,” said Dr. Craig Blin­der­man, who di­rects the adult palliative care ser­vice at the Columbia Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter/New York-Pres­by­te­rian Hospi­tal. He didn’t par­tic­i­pate in the work.

Psilo­cy­bin, also called shrooms, pur­ple pas­sion and lit­tle smoke, comes from cer­tain kinds of mush­rooms. It is il­le­gal in the US, and if the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ap­proves the treat­ment, it would be ad­min­is­tered in clin­ics by spe­cially trained staff, ex­perts say.

Don’t self med­i­cate

No­body should try it on their own, which would be risky, said the lead­ers of the two stud­ies, Dr. Stephen Ross of New York Univer­sity and Roland Grif­fiths of Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity in Bal­ti­more.

Psy­che­delic drugs have looked promis­ing in the past for treat­ing dis­tress in cancer pa­tients. But stud­ies of med­i­cal use of psychedelics stopped in the early 1970s af­ter a reg­u­la­tory crack­down on the drugs, fol­low­ing their wide­spread recre­ational use. It has slowly re­sumed in re­cent years.

Grif­fiths 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. Plans are also un­der­way to study it in de­pres­sion that re­sists stan­dard treat­ment, he said. The new stud­ies, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Psy­chother­apy, are small. The NYU pro­ject, which also in­cluded psy­chother­apy, cov­ered just 29 pa­tients. The Hop­kins study had 51.

NEW YORK: In this Mon­day, Nov 28, 2016 photo Di­nah Bazer poses at her home. Bazer found re­lief from cancer anx­i­ety by be­ing treated with a dose of psilo­cy­bin ad­min­is­tered by a New York Univer­sity study. —AP

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