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'Magic Mushroom' Hallucinogen Might Help Cancer Patients
Study found it eased anxieties, lifted spirits in those with advanced disease
by lilhurricane 08:27PM Thursday Sep 09 2010
By Amanda Gardner

TUESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A controlled dose of the main ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms appears to reduce anxiety and lift spirits in people battling advanced cancer, researchers report.

In a small pilot study, the compound psilocybin appeared to be safe, with no participants reporting a "bad trip," said study author Dr. Charles Grob. His research was published online Sept. 6 and will appear in the January 2011 print issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

In fact, the trips tended to be good, with patients and their families reporting improvements up to six months after their single-dose experience with the substance.

But it took four years to get the funding and necessary approvals for the trial, even though it only involved a dozen patients (all with advanced cancer). And it's been 35 years since a similar study was conducted, in the heyday of medical research into hallucinogens in the 1950s and 1960s, before cultural and political forces moved to shut the field down.

This raises the question of if and when psilocybin and other hallucinogens will reach patients who might benefit from it.

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