Researchers might be closing in on a far-out approach to treating anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Two new studies released Thursday indicate that just one dose of psilocybin, a substance found only in hallucinogenic mushrooms, could immediately cut anxiety and depression in cancer patients for as long as eight months.
Two separate trials, the results of which were both published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, found side effects of the drug to be "minimal," and results to be apparent in about "about 80 percent" of patients, The New York Times reported. "In spite of their unique vulnerability and the mood disruption that the illness and contemplation of their death has prompted, these participants have the same kind of experiences, that are deeply meaningful, spiritually significant, and producing enduring positive changes in life and mood and behavior," said Professor Roland Griffiths, who led the study at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Psilocybin, along with other hallucinogens, has been classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S. for more than 40 years. Though these studies' findings were hailed as "the most profound to date in the medical use of psilocybin," scientists say much more research must be done.