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Study: Single Dose of Psilocybin Eased Anxiety Four Years Later

In a follow up to their 2016 study, researchers at New York University Langone Health (NYU Langone) announced in January that

”...cancer patients who were given psilocybin reported reductions in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, demoralization, and death anxiety more than four years after receiving the [single] dose in combination with psychotherapy,” reports CNN.

"'Our findings strongly suggest that psilocybin therapy is a promising means of improving the emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being of patients with life-threatening cancer,' said Dr. Stephen Ross, associate professor of psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health.”

Wow. It was considered a landmark finding when those participants reported continued relief from symptoms at just six months after their psilocybin sessions.

As many of you know, in December 2018, I spent a day on a psylocybin “trip” with a guide. The purpose was directly related to my terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. You can read about that session here and here.

In recent years, multiple studies have found benefits of psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) in treating not only people with terminal cancer but depression,

anxiety, PTSD and other psychological disturbances.

This follow-up study is the first to show long-term positive results.

”Fifteen of the original participants were then followed up 3.2 and 4.5 years later and showed sustained long-term improvements,” reports CNN, “with more than 70% of them further attributing 'positive life changes to the therapy experience, rating it among 'the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives,' according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.”

To be clear, this is was a small study with 29 original participants in 2016, and 15 of them in the recent follow up.

No one knows how psilocybin works in the brain yet but evidence that it does work is growing.

"'These results may shed light on how the positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin persist for so long,' said Gabby Agin-Liebes, lead investigator and lead author of the long-term follow-up study, and co-author of the 2016 parent study.

"'The drug seems to facilitate a deep, meaningful experience that stays with a person and can fundamentally change his or her mindset and outlook.'"

It has been only 14 months since my psilocybin experience but so far it has worked that way for me. The black, paralyzing fear of dying is no longer with me although I have recently been feeling a profound sadness when I think about leaving our world. But I've had a good life so I think that's appropriate and it's not debilitating.

Psylocybin is illegal, a Schedule 1 controlled substance and researchers must get permission for their studies with it. But a growing number of top institutions are doing so including the University of California, Johns Hopkins and the home of this study, NYU Langone.

People in several states in the U.S. are working to get local measures for decriminalization of psilocybin or its use in medical settings on the ballot in November. My state, Oregon, is among them. The Oregon Psylocybin Society has worked to develop the 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative:

“The intent of the 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon is to advance a breakthrough therapeutic model currently being perfected in research settings at top universities around the world,” states the Initiative.

“The service model involves a sequence of facilitated sessions, including assessment and preparation, psilocybin administration, and integration afterwards. We envision a community-based framework, where licensed providers, along with licensed producers of psilocybin mushrooms, blaze trails in Oregon in accordance with evolving practice standards.”

You will find more information at the PSI-2020 website.

Here is a video from PSI-2020 of testimonials from people who have undergone psilocybin therapy.

Comments

Thank you, Ronnie,
I am so glad to finally see an open-minded approach to this subject. As literature has shown us, people are complex organisms who respond to many things.
Mary

Adding my thanks, Ronnie, for your testimony, and I am grateful that your experience continues to support you. I'd like to see legal approval for therapeutic use.

If the medical establishment adopts therapeutic use, I figure taking actual mushrooms will be rare (synthetics are more controllable for dose).

The mushrooms have been legalized in Colorado, but as with marijuana, I worry a bit about people getting high and behaving irresponsibly. The state is still wrestling with the issue of how high is too high to be driving safely, and how to test for it.

Hope for so many people and issues. Thanks, Ronni.

So good to see the use of psilocybin being used to help people recapture and renew their lives. Much better than the pharmacy cocktails prescribed thus far that often turn people into dumbed down versions of their true selves. I hope this will become the norm soon.

I'm not dismissing the possibility of psilocybin use having positive effects on emotions and behavior, but I continue to be concerned about unintended consequences, especially without a lot more study. The low number of study participants raises questions about the validity of results.

I'm also curious how much of a role the Hawthorne Effect may play in its use, especially with needing a coach or someone else involved for a period of time and creating a certain ambience. This is not an inexpensive practice, and would seem to be accessible only to those who can afford the whole experience. There are many non-invasive things to try in managing anxiety and fear that I would prefer to use before taking drugs in any form. The best one I've found is getting outdoors most days and enjoying nature and fresh air for a while, especially when there's sunshine involved.

I am very aware of that deep sadness arriving at this stage in life. It happened to me about a year ago whrn I was hiking and came into the thoughts about how wondrous this earth really is for humans. I have loved being alive since my early days and I became very sad when thinking that someday, sooner rather than later, I would be gone and no longer be able to be in and witness my life.
That sadness lasted a copule of days but did not turn to depression nor ennui (sp?) but I must say it made many things more precious-simpl as well as complex things.
Andy B.

I have used both mushrooms and LSD in my youth and can attest to not-so-great experiences without a guide and some very good experiences with a guide. Using it recreationally without supervision could be very risky but the benefits of using it under the right circumstances are great. Half a century later I am grateful for insights obtained during LSD trips.

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