Magic Mushrooms may ease cancer anxiety
Published: 7th Sep 2010 02:26:57
Magic Mushrooms (also known as the hallucinogen psilocybin) - may help ease the anxiety that often accompanies late-stage cancer, according to the latest research in the US.
Psilocybin is an hallucinogen similar to LSD. The test involved giving cancer patients moderate doses of this drug, and it found out that they were (not suprisingly) measurably less depressed six months after a single dose compared with a placebo. Patients seemed somewhat less anxious, they reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Although the study only covered 12 cancer patients, it was designed to prove that hallucinogenic drugs could be studied safely as a way to relieve the distress of advanced cancer.
It revives a promising field of study lasting from the 1950s to the early 1970s that suggested some patients experienced powerful and sustained improvement in mood and anxiety from hallucinogens.
Researchers said the studies were abandoned in the early 1970s when when hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD - lysergic acid diethylamide - became widely used on the streets, leading to strict federal laws regulating their use.
"Forty to 45 years ago, the culture was going through tremendous upheaval. These compounds were associated with a very politically active counterculture," said Dr. Charles Grob of Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.
"It was something of a public health crisis. Everything had to be shut down," Grob said in a telephone interview.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED
Grob's study looked to see whether psilocybin could help ease some of the anxiety of dying cancer patients.
During the treatment phase of the study, patients were given a moderate dose of psilocybin and watched closely for six hours. They were told to lie still with their eyes closed as they wore headphones and listened to soothing music.
During the placebo phase, each of the 12 patients received a dose of niacin -- a vitamin that raises levels of good cholesterol -- and given the same instructions.
The treatments were given in random order and neither the doctors nor the patients were told which compound was administered.
All the volunteers tolerated the treatment sessions well, with no signs of severe anxiety or a "bad trip." Most patients showed a trend of improvement in their symptoms of anxiety and at six months, and there was a statistically significant improvement on one depression scale.
Grob said the pilot study proved the drug could be studied safely in cancer patients. He said two other academic research institutions in the United States - Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and New York University - were doing similar studies using a slightly higher dose.
"Times have changed and it's now possible to pick up this research model again," he said.
As many as 14 U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and California voters in November will vote on whether to legalize pot.
"I think that is an indication that there has been a very strong shift within society to move away from the old cultural bias and politics of the process many years ago. I think there is a greater capacity to be open-minded and let science dictate our conclusion, not politics," Grob said.
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Harvard CitationUK Wired News, 2010. Magic Mushrooms may ease cancer anxiety [Online] (Updated 7th Sep 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/87934/Magic-Mushrooms-may-ease-cancer-anxiety [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com