Home Health Treating depression in cancer patients: Magic mushrooms and Magic Mushrooms show promise

Treating depression in cancer patients: Magic mushrooms and Magic Mushrooms show promise

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Magic mushrooms and Magic Mushrooms show promise in cancer patients with depression

Can psychedelic drugs treat depression in cancer patients? Yes, according to the results of a recent clinical study on the subject.

Aquilino Cancer Center in the United States, last week announced promising new results in a clinical trial for the use of psychedelic drugs to treat depression in cancer patients. The treatment, psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, combines a single dose of 25 milligrams of psilocybin – also known as magic mushrooms – with several hours of psychotherapy before, during and after the 'dose'.

In the clinical trial, each dose of magic mushrooms about 8am and found this place in a quiet room with a therapist. During the session, the participants wore headphones with carefully composed music and custom sleep masks that completely blocked out the light.

Lead investigator Manish Agrawal, MD, of Maryland Oncology Hematology, reported that 50% of the participating cancer patients in the study were in complete remission from their depression 8 weeks after their dosing session. In addition, 80% of the participants saw their depression scores drop by at least 50%. (The study measured depression using the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale or MADRS.)

Previous studies have shown that mushroom-assisted therapy improved mental health scores in people with end-of-life anxiety and depression. The study conducted in Aquilino was different because it aimed to measure clinically significant depression on a specific scale — MADRS — and also because some of the therapy took place in a group setting.

Use of psychedelics in treatment cancer patients

Agrawal, an oncologist, became involved in psychedelic therapies because he saw too many people become depressed after a cancer diagnosis. He said he was "very encouraged" by these results and expects more detailed results later this year.

“This is no small problem,” he said. “About a quarter of the 17 million people with cancer in the US also have clinical depression — that's as many as 4 million people.”

Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, which, when combined with therapy, has shown promise for treating a variety of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcoholism and even smoking. Several universities, including Johns Hopkins, the University of California San Diego, and Imperial College in the United Kingdom, are conducting in-depth research on these emerging drugs.

In fact, psilocybin is one of several psychedelic substances scientists are studying for mental health treatment. Others include LSD, DMT (ayahuasca), and mescaline (peyote). Promising early results led the FDA to grant "breakthrough status" to some treatments, including psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression and MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, which can be approved by the FDA within 2 years.

Sources ao Psychiatrictimes (EN), stuff (EN), WebMD (EN), wired (EN)

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