Could LSD Be the Right Prescription for the Terminally Ill?



For too long the government made research into hallucinogens almost impossible to do. It has recently lightened up – a bit. Finally researchers have been able to pick up on the work done by scientists from the mid-20th Century. Thankfully.

Why restrict the scientific community from examining these substances? Substances that may relieve suffering?

(From The Daily Beast)

In a study that took a full decade to complete, and with the approval of the FDA, NIH, DEA, and a host of institutional review boards, Charles Grob at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center assessed the use of psilocybin (the compound in “magic mushrooms”) as a stand-alone treatment for the reactive anxiety and depression that attends death due to terminal cancer. In an initial study, 12 individuals with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis participated in a double-blind randomized crossover fashion (neither the subject nor the physician knew which treatment was being administered) with either psilocybin or niacin (Vitamin B3), which results in a tingling sensation and acted as the placebo control. Furthermore, every subject was prepared by a licensed psychologist beforehand to minimize the possibility of any side effects or a bad trip. Each had their own personalized metaphysical tour guide, who remained with them through the session. They optimized the set and the setting by providing a pleasing and comfortable environment. These clinical research studies were carefully performed and documented, and above reproach. The results were quite remarkable. Feelings of “oceanic boundlessness” and “visionary restructuralization” were followed by positive mood and reduction in depressive scores, which persisted up to six months after the psilocybin treatment ended.

Several follow-up studies are now being conducted. Stephen Ross at NYU School of Medicine randomized 29 participants with cancer in a double-blind fashion to receive either psilocybin or niacin. Again, reductions in long-term anxiety and depression were observed, and with long-lasting effects still measurable six months after hallucinogen exposure; and again the benefit correlated with the extent of the “mystical experience.” Using LSD as the hallucinogen, Peter Gasser in Switzerland showed that 12 cancer patients also showed short- and long-term benefit, and with no persistent side effects beyond the day of the study itself. Further studies have corroborated these beneficial effects up to 14 months out.

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