‘Magic mushrooms’ test for dying patients
DYING patients will be treated with psychedelic synthetic magic mushrooms under a Melbourne medical trial aiming to ease paralysing anxiety felt by many palliative care patients.
The mind-bending drugs are hoped to give terminally ill patients a new perspective on their lives, guided by psychiatrists to remove the fear which takes over many people’s final months.
The St Vincent’s Hospital trial has taken more than a year to gain approval by ethics committees as well as federal and state authorities, but will see the first of 30 patients treated from April.
St Vincent’s clinical psychologist Dr Margaret Ross said the Melbourne study would see pa- tients given a single dose of psilocybin, which is so powerful it can unlock a section of patient’s brains to give them an altered outlook on their situation approaching death.
“It is a little bit controversial because obviously we are using a psychedelic compound and it is a compound which is a synthetic version of what is colloquially known as ‘magic mushrooms’,” Dr Ross said.
“For many people when they are diagnosed and living with a terminal illness it is absolutely devastating.
“People can live for months and years in palliative care and it is a long time to live with that hanging over your head.”