Heffter-Funded Studies Find Psilocybin Therapy Dramatically Reduces Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients

Two randomized controlled trials published today in The Journal of Psychopharmacology report unprecedented findings on the use of psilocybin to dramatically reduce anxiety, depression and existential distress in cancer patients.

These two studies — reviewed and funded by the Heffter Research Institute and conducted by the NYU School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University — showed that a single dose of psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, produced rapid, robust and enduring (for more than six months) antianxiety and antidepressant effects in patients with life-threatening cancer diagnoses.

“These findings, the most profound to date in the medical use of psilocybin, indicate it could be more effective at treating serious psychiatric diseases than traditional pharmaceutical approaches, and without having to take a medication every day,” said Heffter Medical Director George Greer.

“The treatment sessions are profoundly moving for patients, and their mystical experiences appear to be linked causally to the dramatic therapeutic responses,” said Roland Griffiths, the principal investigator of the Johns Hopkins study.

“That a drug administered once can have this effect for so long is unprecedented. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field,” said Stephen Ross, the principal investigator of the NYU study.

The findings further validate an earlier trial from UCLA, also funded by Heffter and published in 2011 in JAMA Psychiatry, showing similar results in a smaller cohort of patients with terminal cancer.