‘Magic’ pscilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs could be of huge benefit to women battling cancer, researchers in United States have said.
Conventional therapies to help women cope with the anxiety and depression that can be sparked by a cancer diagnosis and treatment can take too long, they said. It comes as they announced the launch of a new study to examine how the drugs could help patients.
An opinion piece published in the International Journal of Gynaecological Cancer says that women diagnosed with gynaecological cancers can face “various physical and psychological challenges”. This is particularly true for those diagnosed at a late stage or are suffering from chronic side effects of treatment,
Up to a quarter of ovarian cancer patients report depression, anxiety, and death anxiety. And the authors, from the University of Texas, said that psychedelic drugs – specifically magic mushrooms that contain psilocybin – have shown “promise” in treating various psychological problems.
They said that these drugs “modulate brain activity” and have been linked with “therapeutic effects”. The authors highlighted a case of a mother of two children who was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.
“Her fear of the future was real and overwhelming,” they said. They argue that the current gold standard psychological support to address distress in cancer patients is cognitive behavioural therapy which requires “time commitment” and stamina.
“(Our patient) does not have the time or stamina for that kind of work,” they said. Previous work suggests that the psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy can give “lasting benefits” from just one or two sessions, they added.
“Considering the prevalence of existential distress among ovarian and other gynaecological cancer patients and the potential benefits and safety of psychedelics, there is a clear need for more well-designed protocols prioritising safety and exploring psilocybin, and other psychedelics, in this vulnerable population,” they wrote.
The University of Texas is to conduct a study next year examining the effects of magic mushrooms for women with advanced cancer who are suffering from mental health problems.