02 Dec Psychedelics Reduce Anxiety, Depression in Patients, Study Finds – The Baltimore Sun
“Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that a psychedelic drug can significantly reduce anxiety, depression and other emotional distress in cancer patients.
The patients experienced almost immediate relief, which lasted for months, after taking psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” the researchers reported. A separate study by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center found the same effect.
The findings are the latest in a growing body of research on how psychedelics can be used to treat various illnesses. Studies involving the drugs have resurged in recent years after being stymied for decades when the federal government deemed psychedelics a dangerous controlled substance and stopped funding the research.
The Johns Hopkins and NYU researchers, who published their findings online Thursday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, called them the most conclusive evidence yet that psychedelics could ease emotional pain and anxiety for cancer patients.
The researchers also said psilocybin has the potential to be used as part of end-of-life care for terminal patients.
A total of 80 patients participated in the two trials. The researchers pointed out that the two studies used different techniques but came to the same conclusion, supporting the validity of the results.
“That gave us even greater confidence there was something powerful going on here,” said Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The researchers now plan to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to undertake a larger clinical trial with hundreds of patients.
In the Hopkins study, 80 percent of the 51 patients who participated continued to show decreased feelings of depression and anxiety about the prospect of dying six months after the final treatment. About 67 percent said the effect of the drug was one of their top five most meaningful life experiences. The Hopkins participants had been diagnosed with life-threatening cancers.
About 80 percent of the 29 patients in the NYU study showed improvements six months after treatment. The NYU participants had advanced breast, gastrointestinal or blood cancers.
The findings are important because traditional psychotherapy, such as the use of antidepressants, isn’t always effective in treating people with cancer, Griffiths and the other researchers said. It may take weeks or months for the drugs to work, and some drugs may have negative side effects, or can be addictive.”
by [email protected] The Baltimore Sun
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