In a groundbreaking new trial, St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne will be treating terminal patients with magic mushrooms in an attempt to ease their anxiety about death.
A synthetic version of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in mushrooms, will be administered to patients in a single, large dose.
The psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms can cause a reaction in the brain, altering the dying patient’s outlook on death and alleviating their anxiety.
The decision has come off the back of St Vincent’s Hospital finding that three in ten terminally ill patients will experience severe distress in their final months. 30 patients will be treated with the drug in April this year, in the hopes that their depression and anxiety will be alleviated.
In late 2016, researchers at John Hopkins University in the US found that terminally ill cancer patients found “significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety” after being administered a large, single dose of the synthetic psilocybin.
Of the 51 patients in the trial, 80% presented significant drops in anxiety and depression, and about 60% presented within the normal range. Further, a majority of patients reported significant increases in quality of life and wellbeing. 67% of participants even reported it as being one of their top five most significant life events.
We should note here that the studies and administration of the drug was under strict supervision and monitoring. Neither John Hopkins University nor St Vincent’s Hospital recommends using the drug outside of these settings.