A recent study has proven that “magic mushrooms,” provide relief to cancer patients. Specifically, the compound “psilocybin,” has been shown to provide cancer patients with long term relief from anxiety and depression. Magic mushrooms and cancer patients could be a long-term pairing for studies as shown by the findings produced by research first conducted in 2016 by researchers at the NYC Grossman School of Medicine. Psilocybin therapy comes as a promising new way to improve the emotional, and psychological wellbeing of individuals experiencing life-threatening cancer.
Cancer patients were treated with a single dose of psilocybin, paired with psychotherapy. Patients showed benefits from the measures on emotional distress up to 5 years after the therapy. They reported improved well-being or satisfaction with their lives. Also, the treatments were rated as being “among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives.”
Psilocybin and the exact way it works are yet to be fully understood. The compound is believed to make the brain more flexible and malleable to new thought patterns and ideas. The default mode network is affected, an area of the brain that lights up when we engage in self-reflection and when our minds wander, helping us maintain our sense of self.
For anyone dealing with anxiety and depression, this part of the brain becomes especially active, causing excessive worrying and overthinking. Psilocybin is understood to affect activity in this part of the brain by giving it a sort of jolt. This helps an individual take a step back to a broader perspective on their behaviors and lives. Though a possible remedy, researchers still advise against attempts to self-medicate using the compound.
Magic mushrooms and cancer patients are observed in a controlled and psychologically safe environment, in coordination with mental health practitioners. Similar to other psychedelics, psilocybin affects the brain’s serotonin transmitter, imitating the chemical effects of serotonin and affecting the individual in a range of subjective ways.
In most cases, psychedelic drugs affect the temporal lobe of the brain. This has to do with functions involved in memory and emotion. Abnormal activity in the temporal lobe has in the past been described as being similar to near–death experiences. Similarly, psychedelics increase the amount of disorganization in the brain, described as being “higher in entropy.”
Magic mushrooms and cancer patients present a potential long term and durable strategy as a measure against depression and anxiety in cancer patients and in decreasing the risk factors for suicide. In 2018 the World Health Organization recorded 18 million cases of cancer. Research has shown depression to be a common factor among cancer patients in the general population.
Studies are still ongoing into psilocybin as a viable method of therapy for dealing with depression in cancer patients. The study has limitations, for instance, the small number of patients monitored in the rails and an overlap with the previous trial. However, trials do provide useful data and assurance in developing depression resistant treatments. Multiple studies have shown benefits in using psilocybin together with supportive therapy. It has the potential to transform how we care for cancer patients and can be used in psychological care settings to help terminally ill cancer patients by giving them improved emotional and spiritual well-being.
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