Magical Mystery Medicine

psilocybin

Psilocybin, or “magic,” mushrooms (Photo credit: D.C.Atty)

The Magical Mystery Tour was a double album released by The Beatles in 1967. It accompanied a “trippy” film and cemented the group’s status as psychedelic gurus who experimented with their music even more than they experimented with drugs.

Forty-five years later and one of the drugs they experimented with most is making another appearance, this time in the world of medicine.

At its annual meeting, research was presented to the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) involving psilocybin, a synthetic version of the compound in “magic mushrooms” that makes people trip, freak out, wig or whichever catchy hippie term you prefer.

Researchers are studying the drug as a potential treatment for things like anxiety in cancer patients (especially the terminal variety), alcoholism, addiction and even smoking cessation.

That last one seems kind of interesting to me since I’m a sometime smoker who has struggled with quitting completely over the years. Psilocybin or even LSD might be useful in helping people kick the habit, though. Picture this: A bunch of smokers drop acid in a relaxed and controlled environment full of vibrant colors and soothing music. They are completely at ease once their trip begins and look forward to an afternoon of mind-expanding self-discovery.

Suddenly, a door swings open and someone dressed as a scary cigarette jumps out and scares the hell out of them!

I bet someone in the study would drop the habit as a result.

Fortunately, the actual studies seem much more professional than this, and a few of them are very promising indeed.

Magical Mystery Tour

Is it possible these guys were on to something? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scientists at Johns Hopkins treated more than 150 volunteers with psilocybin. And although many experienced some kind of anxiety with the drug, probably because they never took it for recreational reasons before, roughly 70% said the experience was one of the most meaningful of their lives. Some even compared it to the birth of their first child or the death of a parent!

Dr. Charles Grob of UCLA used psilocybin with 12 cancer patients during the end stage of their disease. Treatment involved placing them in comfortable, colorful rooms and surrounding them with photographs of loved ones and positive life memories. All of the subjects enjoyed their experience and six months later, many of them showed reductions in their depression symptoms. In many cases, patients even said they no longer considered themselves to be worried or anxious people.

The potential benefits of psilocybin are clear and I’m sure we will be hearing more about it in the coming years. Of course, I can’t help but find it odd how drugs made illegal by the federal government are now working their way back into everyday society. Marijuana is being used for medical reasons and has even been cleared for recreational use in several states. And researchers are even studying ecstasy as a possible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It just goes to show you how some drugs may actually be useful if we study them thoroughly before labeling them as evil and simply banning them. People will always abuse drugs, of course, but at least there is something positive that could be gained from them, as well. Something to consider, I think…

Posted on December 9, 2012, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Lmao! Scary Cigarette! Would be cool if psilocybin works, LSD might be problematic if what I’ve heard about it is accurate.. I was reading a study the other day that suggested Wode might be effecting in curing certain cancers…

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