Psychedelic Drugs May Help Patients Face Death
Patients facing their mortality may have help in the form of psychedelics, according to researchers.
Charles Grob, a psychiatrist and researcher at Harbor- U.C.L.A. Medical Center, has been conducting a study administering psilocybin (the active component of magic mushrooms) to cancer patients in an attempt to reduce their fear of death.
The initial research was completed in 2008 and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry last year. Results showed that administering the psychedelic to terminally ill patients in the trial to reduce the subject’s anxiety and depression about their impending deaths.
Grob’s is not the only one studying such effects. Dr. John Halpern, head of the Laboratory for the Integrative Psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, used ecstasy in his research on ending the anxiety of terminally ill patients with stage 4 cancer. Two other studies are also being conducted in New York University’s medical school and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center administering psilocybin to cancer patients.
Grob and his colleagues are finding that psychedelics are an effective treatment for severe P.T.S.D., cluster headaches, and are examining its effectiveness as treatment for alcoholism and other addictions.
They want to make it very clear, however, that they are serious scientists and not wanting to be looped in with the controversial studies of those like Timothy Leary, stating:
“We are trying to stay under the radar. We want to be anti-Leary. We are serious sober scientists.”
Fourteen months after participating in a psilocybin study that was published in The Journal of Psychopharmacology last year, 94 percent of subjects said that it was one of the five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39 percent said that it was the most meaningful experience.
Grob had this to say about the study:
“It’s a bit of a mystery. I don’t really have altogether a definitive answer as to why the drug eases the fear of death, but we do know that from time immemorial individuals who have transformative spiritual experiences come to a very different view of themselves and the world around them and thus are able to handle their own deaths differently.”