Magic mushrooms have always been popular in mainstream culture. Although most see it as simply a hallucinatory drug, especially popular in the 60s and 70s, there is far more to what psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms can offer. There have been numerous studies, especially in the recent few years that show that this chemical substance has some extraordinary properties.
Psilocybin can be used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), and other mental health conditions. And its effects last long after the initial experience is over, with most participants reporting an increase in their happiness and fulfillment after the experience. To be clear, psilocybin and magic mushrooms overall are not a cure for mental health conditions. (but many believe they are)can, however, be powerful when used in conjunction with other tools to help bring about a more open state of mind.
Psilocybin case study for terminally ill
There are new studies emerging though, that show how psilocybin can be used. For terminally ill patients, magic mushrooms can provide a window into the past that did not seem possible before. According to individuals working in healthcare settings, psilocybin is used with terminally ill patients to help them work through unresolved issues and emotions, including their own mortality.
These patients have been part of strictly controlled medical trials, and each patient walked away with the same feeling: a sense of spiritual fulfillment. There was peace, calm, and gratitude. In a setting such as one where patients know they are terminally ill, and their passing is imminent, that feeling can make all the difference in their remaining time.
Although psilocybin is illegal in the United States-though 1.2 million have reported using it- it has been used in trial settings for a multitude of studies. Mostly in mental health, time and time again the substance has shown to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Met with skepticism by many, there is clear scientific evidence emerging that shows how powerful it really is. Universities such as Johns Hopkins, the University of California, Los Angeles and Imperial College in London have been at the forefront of these studies.
For many in palliative care, these studies are seen as a renaissance, a pioneering way to change lives and provide a more spiritual experience to those that nearing the end. This end of life And as more scientists from the medical community see the results, there is an increasing number of trials being set up across both America and Europe. Which to many of tribal communities and indigenous tribes find to be quite interesting since it has been used for thousands of years with amazing results.
With a combination of psychotherapy and psilocybin, patients can experience a different level of care and support that allows them a more personal experience, rather than relying on medication and antidepressants, all with devastating side effects.
How was the study done?
The research took place between NYU and Johns Hopkins, patients were given a single moderate to a high dose of psilocybin in a controlled environment with psychotherapists present. Each patient in the study had advanced cancer, with not much time to live- less than 6 month.
The immediate results showed a dramatic decline in anxiety and depression. However, the more surprising part was how long that decline lasted. 80% of patients reported lowered levels of depression and anxiety up to 6 months after.
What is the experience like?
“In some ways, I feel that I am better equipped to deal with what life throws at me, and to appreciate the good things. I am grateful to be alive in a way that I didn’t know I could be grateful. It’s a kind of gratitude that’s ineffable. I am much more focused on this moment.” – Eddie Marritz, a participant (from The Independent)
According to researchers, patients felt like they had a greater sense of perspective after their experience on psilocybin. Patients who were interviewed after felt that this treatment was “substantially different from the kinds of recreational psychedelic experiences we’ve all read about,” according to researchers.
And to really understand the experience, consider the following insight shared by the researchers: “It’s as if the camera pulled back further than ever on their lives,” Pollan said. “Matters that seemed so challenging now appeared smaller and more manageable – whether smoking, cancer or the prospect of their death.”
And reported outcomes demonstrated that patients had higher satisfaction, and generally just felt better after their treatment with psilocybin in comparison to psychotherapy treatment. Yes, that is right talking about the same thing over and over again, does not produce many new results.
In other studies, such as a pilot study conducted by John Hopkins, there is a certain kind of experience that sees this persistent result. Experiences that are described as “spiritual” or “mystical” or “ego-dissolution” and “feelings of oneness,” tended to be the ones that stuck. Likely because the experience helped change a negative thought pattern and bring about a different feeling.
Why use psilocybin rather than LSD?
Quite simply because psilocybin brings about a more spiritual, calm experience. LSD can evoke strong emotional reactions, without the “feeling” of connectedness that psilocybin produces, and psilocybin has been used in communities across the world for thousands of years.
The safety of the reaction is far more reliable in psilocybin rather than LSD, especially in a medical trial setting. Plus, the duration is a factor. Psilocybin lasts for about 6 hours, while other drugs such as LSD can last up to twelve hours. Six hours give patients enough time for the experience, without overwhelming them.
Is this the only study being conducted?
Not at all. The psilocybin mental health treatment research is continuing and seeing the same results in other settings. Most recently, a hospital in Melbourne is using psilocybin as depression and anxiety treatment for terminally ill patients. The trial is being conducted with 30 patients, all of whom are part of the hospital’s palliative care and did not respond to antidepressants or other mental health medications. Like other studies, each patient will receive one dose of psilocybin coupled with psychotherapy. The study is currently ongoing.
Ultimately, what these studies demonstrate is that in the right settings, and the right dosage, the experience of psilocybin can transcend the popular belief. It is not just a simple visual perception experience, but it has the potential to bring about real change.