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Scientists in the US have claimed the lives of patients with advanced cancer may be improved by a mind-altering “magic mushroom” drug.
According to a study, patients experienced improved mood and reduced anxiety for up to six months after one session with the drug psilocybin.
Professor Charles Grob, from the LA BioMed research institute in Los Angeles, California, said the team of researchers worked with a number of patients who had not responded well to conventional treatments.
The study involved 12 volunteers aged 36 to 58, all of whom suffered from anxiety.
It was carried out to further work in the 1950s and 1960s, which found advanced-stage cancer patients could be assisted by psychedelic drugs.
Prof Grob said: “Following their treatments with psilocybin, the patients and their families reported benefit from the use of this hallucinogen in reducing their anxiety.
“This study shows psilocybin can be administered safely, and that further investigation of hallucinogens should be pursued to determine their potential benefits.”
Participants were given either a moderate psilocybin dose of 0.2 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, or an inactive “dummy” placebo during two experimental sessions several weeks apart.
On each occasion, neither patients nor the researchers knew at the time if the active drug or the placebo had been administered.
Volunteers were encouraged to lie in bed wearing eye shades and listening to music during the first few hours after their treatment.
Their progress was monitored over the next six months using standard screening tests for measuring anxiety and depression.
The research was published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
Copyright Press Association 2010