Amongst the numerous side ailments that can afflict cancer patients during treatment, psychological effects such as depression and anxiety are but two of the most common, affecting up to 40 percent of patients. But a new joint study between New York University and Johns Hopkins University shows that these effects can be treated — and very effectively at that — by using the naturally-occurring psychedelic compound psilocybin.

The two studies, consisting of 29 subjects at MYU and 51 at John Hopkins, found that 80 percent of the patients treated with psilocybin became noticeably better after taking just a single dose. And aside from a few minor side effects, the effect would last for up to seven months, with patients reporting improvements in their quality of life, energy levels, and seeing improvements in their relationships with family members. On top of this, the patients that reported seeing greater improvements were also the ones that reported having stronger "trips" while taking the drug.

“I really don’t think we have any models in psychiatry that look like the effects demonstrated in the two trials," exclaims psychiatrist Dr. Roland Griffiths, the lead author of the Johns Hopkins study. “Something occurs and it’s repaired and it’s better going forward … very plausibly for more than six months,” he added. “In that sense it’s a new model.”

Psilocybin is most commonly found in magic mushrooms, and is illegal in the US in both its natural and extracted form. The researchers that conducted the studies say that it would be unwise to self-medicate using this method, warning that the dosage should be administered by a professional in a supportive environment. They also caution that the drug may be inappropriate for young adults or people with schizophrenia. 

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