One of the more compelling areas of research currently being investigated in the world of psychedelic science is psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to improve emotional well-being in patients with life-threatening cancer. A new study is offering the first long-term insights into the efficacy of the treatment, revealing a single dose of psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, is still offering persistently positive effects up to five years later.
Dealing with the profound existential distress of a life-threatening cancer diagnosis is a major challenge for most patients. As many as 40 percent of cancer patients are known to develop clinically significant signs of depression or anxiety, and these mental health issues have been linked to worse treatment outcomes or, in some instances, suicide.
Some of the earliest psychedelic studies in the 1950s and 60s explored the effects of LSD on depression and anxiety in cancer patients before research in the area froze for several decades due to societal prohibitions. But post-2000 saw a thawing of regulations, and some of the most comprehensive trials to date have been investigating the potential for psychedelics in treating patients with life-threatening illness suffering existential distress.
The acute results from these studies have been incredibly promising but so far there has been little investigation into the long-term efficacy of these psychedelic interventions. In terms of psychedelic psychotherapy for patients with life-threatening illnesses, the longest follow-up study to date has been 12 months.
A newly published study in the Journal of Pharmacology is offering some of the best long-term insights into psychedelic psychotherapy to date. The study follows a previously published investigation into a single moderate dose of psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, for patients with cancer-related existential distress.
The 2016 double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study recruited 29 patients. By the six-and-a-half-month follow-up point, between 60 and 80 percent of the patients displayed clinically significant improvements in depression and anxiety symptoms.
The new study reports on two further long-term follow-up points investigating whether the effects of the psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy persisted for several years. Only 16 of the original 29 patients were still alive for the follow-up study, one of whom declined to participate and a second who died before the final follow-up date. This left 14 subjects to evaluate with an average final follow-up of four and a half years.
The long-term results were strikingly positive, recalling similar efficacy to the originally published study. Between 60 and 80 percent of the remaining subjects still fitted the criteria for clinically significant anxiolytic or antidepressant responses and the vast majority of the subjects ranked the single psilocybin treatment as one of the most meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives.
It may be fair to suggest that it is unsurprising the long-term effects are so positive considering around 70 percent of the surviving cohort were in partial, or complete, remission at the final long-term follow-up point. However, the persistent meaningful experiences reported by the cohort in relation to the single psilocybin dose suggests long-term positive psychological effects can be attributed to the treatment.
So, not only does it seem the psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy helps patients move through the acute months following a major cancer diagnosis, but the experience may be aiding the surviving patients in positively contextualizing the traumatic experience years later.
Theres a reckoning, which came with cancer, and this reckoning was enhanced by the psilocybin experience, writes one of the patients five years later as part of the long-term follow-up questionnaire. I have a greater appreciation and sense of gratitude for being alive.
Another patient quoted in the new study offers a compelling sense that the psychedelic experience fundamentally changed their approach to the world. Again, this impression was nearly five years after the single psilocybin treatment.
The psilocybin experience changed my thoughts about myself in the world. I see myself in a less limited way. I am more open to life. It has taken me out from under a big load of feelings and past issues in my life that I was carrying around.
Gabby Agin-Liebes, lead author on the new study and co-author on the original 2016 study, keenly notes that these positive results seem to be due to the larger treatment regime of nine psychotherapy sessions in conjunction with the single psilocybin dose. Agin-Liebes does not believe these positive results can occur from a single psychedelic experience divorced from the broader treatment method and suggests the controlled therapeutic process is vital to the efficacy of this kind of psychedelic treatment.
Psychedelic experiences are uniquely influenced by context in which they occur, Agin-Liebes tells New Atlas in an email. The importance of context can not be overemphasized. Psychedelics are different from other psychiatric medications in that their benefits seem to be very dependent upon the context in which they are ingested. In more traditional medications (e.g., antidepressants), the persistent presence of the drug in the body affects biological process, which lead to psychological and behavioral effects independent of the contexts in which medication is taken.
Exactly how a single dose of psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, confers such profound and enduring effects up to five years later is still unclear. Agin-Liebes points to a recent paper from Imperial College London's Robin Carhart-Harris and Karl Friston as the most compelling holistic exploration of the mechanisms underpinning these persistent positive effects.
The most compelling and scientifically grounded theory relates to psilocybin's potential for inducing a flexible brain state, particularly people who experience more rigid brain states, explains Agin-Liebes. Psychedelics appear to relax the brain's biased patterns of information processing and beliefs and allow for more "bottom-up" information to enter into one's consciousness.
A number of larger clinical trials are currently ongoing, exploring the potential for psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to address major depression and various addiction issues, as well as further validating the treatment for existential distress related to life-threatening illness.
The new study was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Originally posted here:
- The Psychedelic Renaissance with the former VP of content at High Times (Brains Byte Back podcast) - The Sociable - May 19th, 2020
- Psychedelic experiences disrupt routine thinking and so has the coronavirus pandemic - The Conversation CA - May 19th, 2020
- Have a Good Trip Demystifies Psychedelics - The New Republic - May 19th, 2020
- Psilocybin: An Effective Treatment for Weight Loss and Food Craving? - Yahoo Finance - May 19th, 2020
- This Trippy Oregon Theme Park Is Like A Psychedelic Disneyland - Thrillist - May 19th, 2020
- Novamind and Buzz Capital Announce Qualifying Transaction TSX Venture Exchange:BUZ-P - GlobeNewswire - May 19th, 2020
- REPEAT - Champignon Sponsors Non-profit Coalition, TheraPsil - Medical Psilocybin Access Project for Palliative Cancer Patients and Health... - May 19th, 2020
- Revive Therapeutics Provides Corporate Update on its Pharmaceutical Initiatives - GlobeNewswire - May 19th, 2020
- Celebrities share LSD trips in Netflix documentary 'Have A Good Trip' - Insider - INSIDER - May 5th, 2020
- Netflix And Trip: Take A Psychedelic Adventure In This Star-Studded Documentary - Forbes - May 5th, 2020
- Cannabis Countdown: Top 10 Marijuana And Psychedelics Industry News Stories Of The Week - Benzinga - May 5th, 2020
- Have a Good Trip Review: Netflix LSD Doc Is Way Too High on Its Own Supply - IndieWire - May 5th, 2020
- Entheon Biomedical CEO Timothy Ko On The Potential Of Psychedelics In Addiction Treatment - Benzinga - May 5th, 2020
- Netflix Reveals Celebrities' Wildest Drug Trips, From Anthony Bourdain to Carrie Fisher - The Daily Beast - May 5th, 2020
- The 'Billions' Stock Watch: It's Time For Psychedelics And Subterfuge - UPROXX - May 5th, 2020
- Prohibition Partners Teams Up With Mazakali For Live Investor Event - Green Market Report - May 5th, 2020
- Psychedelics - Alcohol and Drug Foundation - March 26th, 2020
- Psychedelics - Mushrooms, LSD, Salvia - March 26th, 2020
- The 12 Most Popular Psychedelic Drugs | Ocean Breeze Recovery - March 26th, 2020
- Cannabis Countdown: Top 10 Marijuana And Psychedelics Industry News Stories Of The Week - Yahoo Finance - March 26th, 2020
- Green Rush Podcast: Bruce Linton On Psychedelics, Listing On The NEO, And The Difference Between 'Going Public' And 'Being Public' - Benzinga - March 26th, 2020
- Microdosing: taking illegal psychedelic drugs as a form of therapy - does it actually work? - Now To Love - March 26th, 2020
- Psilocybin: The magic ingredient in psychedelic shrooms - Livescience.com - January 30th, 2020
- Are Investors Ready To Change Their Minds About Psychedelic Drugs? - Forbes - January 30th, 2020
- What ongoing research suggests about psychedelics ability to improve mental health - FOX 59 Indianapolis - January 30th, 2020
- Could psychedelics help us resolve the climate crisis? - The Conversation UK - January 30th, 2020
- Synthetic psychedelic drug effective in reducing alcohol intake in a rodent model of addiction - PsyPost - January 30th, 2020
- What it's like to take part in a psychedelic retreat - The Independent - January 30th, 2020
- Volunteers push to legalize the therapeutic uses of psychedelic mushrooms - Daily Astorian - January 30th, 2020
- Canadian psychedelic drug researcher featured in Paltrows Netflix show The Goop Lab - The Globe and Mail - January 30th, 2020
- 5 years after taking one dose of magic mushrooms, a gaggle of most cancers sufferers nonetheless really feel much less despair and nervousness -... - January 30th, 2020
- What is Psychedelic Psychotherapy? Does it Really Work? Is The Goop Lab Fake? - The Cinemaholic - January 30th, 2020
- Psychedelic Events Are Going Mainstream, Where The Much-Maligned Mushroom Industry Focuses On Mental Health - Forbes - January 16th, 2020
- Can you have a bad trip from taking acid in the woods? - WHYY - January 16th, 2020
- How researchers and advocates of color are forging their own paths in psychedelic-assisted therapy - WHYY - January 16th, 2020
- NYC To Host Economics Of Psychedelics Investing Summit - Benzinga - January 16th, 2020
- A CIA chemist, mind control and the return of psychedelic drugs - The Boston Globe - January 13th, 2020
- Gwyneth Paltrow's New Netflix Docuseries Is Full of Psychedelics and Orgasms - Vogue - January 13th, 2020
- Syd Barrett: How LSD Created and Destroyed His Career With Pink Floyd - Biography - January 13th, 2020
- Psychadelic Events Are Going Mainstream, Where The Much-Maligned Mushroom Industry Focuses On Mental Health - Forbes - January 12th, 2020
- Editorial: Psychonaut of the week - Echonetdaily - January 12th, 2020
- Rats on DMT hint at the benefits of psychedelic microdosing - Inverse - January 5th, 2020
- Psychedelic Drugs: Researchers experimenting with active agent in magic mushrooms to treat addiction, depression and anxiety - 60 Minutes - CBS News - January 5th, 2020
- Psychedelics Were Already Having a Good Year. Then Andrew Yang Tweeted - VICE - December 23rd, 2019
- Psychedelics and Wellness: What's the Connection? - Psych Congress Network - December 23rd, 2019
- Bruce Linton Talks Psychedelics Investments, Microdosing And LSD: 'The Therapeutic Potential Of Psychedelics Is Greater Than Cannabinoids' - Benzinga - December 23rd, 2019
- Why Doctors Are Turning to Psychedelics to Treat Depression & Addiction - Men's Journal - December 23rd, 2019
- Anxiety, depression and the new science of psychedelics part two - ABC News - November 13th, 2019
- Keeno Ahmed-Jones: Getting out of the psychedelic closet - Straight.com - November 13th, 2019
- Call for patients to take part in anorexia psilocybin treatment study - Health Europa - November 13th, 2019
- The Two Black Women Helping To Reclaim & Encourage Natural Psychedelics Use In Oakland - Okayplayer - October 29th, 2019
- Shirola: U.S. government should ease legal barriers to research and treatment with psychedelics - Daily Northwestern - October 29th, 2019
- Molecule Catalyst and UTM to crowdfund psychedelics research with blockchain - Decrypt - October 29th, 2019
- Psilocybin: Active agent in magic mushrooms could treat addiction, depression and anxiety - 60 Minutes - CBS News - October 16th, 2019
- Psilocybin: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know - Heavy.com - October 16th, 2019
- Psychedelic Toad Venom Is the New Trendy Hallucinogenic - Addiction Center - October 16th, 2019
- What You Can Learn From Snorting Two Lines of LSD - TheStranger.com - October 1st, 2019
- The second coming of psychedelics in pop culture - Happy Mag - October 1st, 2019
- Exploring the changing relationship between sex and drugs - Dazed - October 1st, 2019
- How to Safely Use LSD - How to Use Psychedelics - June 3rd, 2019
- How to Treat Depression with Psychedelics - April 20th, 2019
- Can You Take Psychedelics With Antidepressants? - April 20th, 2019
- Beginners Guide to Microdosing Psychedelics - April 20th, 2019
- Learn Everything You Need To Know About MDMA (Ecstasy) - April 20th, 2019
- Psychedelic drug - Wikipedia - March 1st, 2019
- Psychedelic art - Wikipedia - February 19th, 2019
- Psychedelic Drugs and the Serotonergic System - February 19th, 2019
- How to Use MDMA (Molly) - How to Use Psychedelics - February 19th, 2019
- How to Take Mushrooms (Psilocybin mushrooms / Shrooms ... - February 19th, 2019
- Tim Ferriss: depression, psychedelics, and emotional ... - January 7th, 2019
- Psychedelics - Pharmacological Reviews - December 18th, 2018
- Psychedelia - Wikipedia - December 18th, 2018
- A Microdose Of “Magic Mushrooms” Could Unleash Your Creativity - October 29th, 2018
- Famous Users of Psychedelics - How to Use Psychedelics for ... - June 14th, 2018
- How to Use MDMA - June 9th, 2018
- Psychedelics - PsychonautWiki - May 28th, 2018
- Microdosing: The Revolutionary Way of Using Psychedelics ... - May 25th, 2018
- The Truth About What Psychedelics Do to Your Brain - May 17th, 2018
- Do Psychedelics Carry A Heart Risk? - The Third Wave - May 4th, 2018
- 6 facts about psychedelic drugs that will totally blow ... - April 24th, 2018