Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms are wildly used for shamanic rituals which are known to help people with depression and anxiety. The magic mushrooms are now being used to help patients to overcome the fear of upcoming death and live the life that is left without any depression. Over the past decades, multiple types of research were held to learn what effect these mushrooms have on terminally ill patients – and the results are surprising. It has shown to do well than most modern medical treatments.
Most modern medications are doing their job well but the effect of psilocybin is proved to last for months after only one session. As a matter of fact, patients are given psilocybin in a form of pills and not actual mushrooms. This allows to measure the right amount of dosage and give it the status of medical treatment.
In 2016, a study at The John Hopkins University showed improvements in the moods of the terminal cancer patients. A dose of 20mg psilocybin helped patients improve their attitude and relationships with their loved ones. The study showed that the magic mushrooms helped patients overcome depression and the effect of the treatment lasted up to six months.
In 2017 another research was held, this time in London at Imperial College. During this trial, patients with depression received two doses of psilocybin one week apart combined with their therapy sessions. The results showed improvements and fewer symptoms of depression among patients. Also, during the research scientists took the patients’ brain MRIs before and after the treatment and they found a major change in their brain activity. The later caused a decrease in depression.
Another brilliant example of the benefits of psilocybin mushrooms on terminally ill patients is the story of Pam Sakuda. In the early 2000s at the age of 55, she was diagnosed with a colon tumor but after having it removed she found out about her stage 4 metastatic. After this, she was given a maximum of 14 months to live. She was trying to hold an upbeat and healthy lifestyle to try and prolong her life and after passing the given 14 months, depression hit her. After that, she knew that every day could be her last and in such case anxiety was inescapable.
This is when she found out about a study held at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center by Charles Grob. The aim of the study was to decrease the fear of death of 12 patients with terminal cancer using psilocybin. The treatment helped Sakuda outlive the given 14 months with 4 years. After the study ended, the results showed that psilocybin is a safe and proved way to help terminally ill patients overcome depression and anxiety.
The way Grob held the sessions was something like this. One of the rooms in the hospital was transformed into a calm soothing atmosphere with flowers and the patient’s personal items. This had a significant meaning as it personalized the session and brought back good memories. For instance, Sakuda brought family photos.
The patient would take the pill, lay on the couch with black eyeshades and headphones playing some mystical music. The session normally would take about seven hours. During the entire session the patients were accompanied by Grob and his assistant. They checked the patients’ blood pressure every hour to see if things were going fine. Some of the patients would cry during the session as did Sakuda. She later told Grob that she cried because she understood how her husband would feel when she dies. After the session, Sakuda said in an interview that the treatment helped her look at the situation from a different angle. She started to understand that the fear is only going to prevent her from enjoying the rest of the life she has.
Another great story about a leukemia survivor Lauri Reamer. Her story is a little different from the ones mentioned above, as the cause of her depression was not from her disease which she successfully overcame. Her depression begun after that, when she started to have constant fears that her disease will return.
In 2010 she learned about a study held at John Hopkins University by Griffiths. The later conducted studies on healthy volunteers for already years and in his studies, he used higher doses of psilocybin then in previous studies. After his trials, which lasted 14 months, the majority of his patients looked at death not as an end of life but its process. More than 90% of the volunteers said that the study was one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences in their lives.
Reamer started her first session in 2010, which was an emotional experience as she mentioned she was crying most of the time. The process was similar to the one held by Charles Grob. A calm atmosphere in the room decorated with the patient’s personal items. After taking the pill, lying on the sofa with eyeshades and headphones. After the first session, she said that she felt most relaxed than ever before, in three weeks she took the second session. At the end of the treatment, she stopped being afraid of death and started to enjoy her life to the fullest.
One of the last studies was held at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital. Where they gave a low dose of Psilocybin to those patients who did not respond to anti-depressants. Besides the magic mushrooms the patients still had psychotherapy sessions as well.
This trial was held not only on people with terminal cancer but also with other terminal diseases such as respiratory or kidney.
So, overall all the researches lead to the same conclusion that psilocybin does actually help terminally ill patients overcome anxiety and depression. But one thing still remains a mystery. How do magic mushrooms help people overcome the fear of death? It is proved that it changes people’s vision about the world and life but there is no certain definition as of how it happens. Nowadays, such researches are becoming more and more often, hence soon we might get the answer to that question as well.