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Future Research       Cancer Distress
Addiction        Spirituality
Neuroscience Research        Publications


In addition to researching psilocybin’s potential for reducing psychological distress, Heffter is also sponsoring studies with healthy volunteers with the aim to better understand how psilocybin may offer improvements in overall wellbeing and contribute to one’s spiritual practices. Previous studies have shown a strong correlation between the qualities of experience with psilocybin and mystical states, and improvements in quality of life after psilocybin (see study sites, below). Current research at Johns Hopkins in long-term meditators is using both experiential reports and neuroimaging to further explore the similarities and differences of psilocybin with meditation.

Our researchers are also collaborating with the Council on Spiritual Practices to explore the effects of psilocybin with religious professionals to understand how a mystical-type experience may benefit their work as clergy.


Psilocybin and Meditation

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University are seeking individuals with a regular, long-term meditation practice to participate in a research study looking at the combined effects of meditation and psilocybin, a psychoactive substance found in sacramental mushrooms of some cultures. Volunteers must be between the ages of 25 and 80, have no personal or familial history of severe psychiatric illness, or recent history of alcoholism or drug abuse.
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Religious Professionals

Funded by the Council on Spiritual Practices, this study is currently recruiting practicing religious leaders for an investigation into the effects of psilocybin and the mystical experience. We hypothesize that religious professionals, given their interests, training, and life experience, will be able to make nuanced discriminations of their psilocybin experiences, thus contributing to the scientific understanding of mystical-type experience and its effect on personal wellbeing, spirituality, and prosocial behavior.
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Psilocybin and Spiritual Practice

With initial data published in 2006 and a 14-month follow-up study funded by Heffter and published in 2008 this double-blind study evaluated the psychological effects of a single high dose of psilocybin in 36 hallucinogen-naïve adults who reported regular participation in religious or spiritual activities. In the 14-month follow-up, 58% of volunteers rated the psilocybin-occasioned experience as being among the five most personally meaningful, and 67% reported it to be among the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives. Further, 64% indicated that the experience increased well-being or life satisfaction; 58% met criteria for having had a ‘complete’ mystical experience. This study concluded that when administered under supportive conditions, psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences, with significant and sustained psychological, spiritual, and emotional benefit.
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The following videos are interviews of volunteers from both the Harbor-UCLA Psilocybin &
Cancer study as well as the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin & Cancer study

Robert Jesse: Psilocybin Occasions Mystical Experiences Having Sustained Spiritual Significance

Psilocybin Occasions Mystical Experiences Having Sustained Spiritual Significance.

TEDxMidAtlantic – Roland Griffiths – 11/5/09

Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., is Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His principal research focus in both clinical and preclinical laboratories has been on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs.

Annie Levy – Psilocybin Study Participant

An interview with Annie Levy about her experience with psilocybin as part of the Harbor-UCLA trial with cancer patients who have anxiety.