The Grapevine

Can A Magic Mushroom Compound Help Treat The Depression Of Cancer Patients?

A new study suggests people who are suffering from cancer that reportedly took a compound found in magic mushrooms had less instances of depression and anxiety, even years after originally taking it.

At the moment, the evidence that researchers have gathered aren’t enough to completely pin these quality of life improvements onto the hallucinatory episode itself, especially when compared to other positive changes in their life. However, the researchers still believe that these current findings open the possibility that the compound psilocybin have an innate ability to actually reshape how a person would be able to handle both distress and fear.

The research was originally made some time back in 2016, when the findings suggested that combining therapy with psilocybin can quickly ease both feelings of anxiety and depression in people who are suffering from cancer. While the findings do provide some solid evidence, the researchers wanted to find out whether these effects would last and for how long.

As such, surveys were made about three to four and a half years after the psilocybin dose, which then showed that a majority of the 15 people who took the dose still have fewer instances and signs of both anxiety and depression than before they took it. And by the second follow-up, around a third of the participants still have cancer while the rest are either in partial or complete remission, the scientists reported Tuesday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology


Almost all of participants described that the dose made some “moderate,” “strong” and “extreme” positive changes in their behavior. Furthermore, many of them also described that it’s one of the most meaningful events of their lives.

However, it’s still quite impossible to tease out the effect of the compound since while all the participants took a dose of it, it was given to them at slightly different times to make some comparisons. Nevertheless, the findings provide some evidence that the compound can help improve people cope with life-altering diagnoses.

“It helped me to move on with my life and not focus on the possibility of cancer recurring,” a participant said.

Cancer patients Young patients of the Children Hospital of Emergency and Reconstructive Surgery in industrial Ukrainian city of Donetsk wait for medical procedures on March 11, 2013. Oscar Saxelby-Lee finally matches with a stem-cell donor. Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/Getty Images