Terminally ill patients to be given magic mushroom compound psilocybin to 'ease their fear of death'
A Melbourne hospital has caused a stir on social media after a controversial medical trial was announced in which dying patients will be given magic mushrooms in order to reduce their anxiety.
Terminally ill patients at St. Vincent's Hospital will be offered a single dose of psilocybin in the form a capsule to ease their fear of dying in a first-of-its-kind treatment. According to clinicians, state and federal authorities took more than a year to give the green light for the trial, Daily Mail reports.
A similar trial in New York was wildly successful, with 70 percent of participants saying the psychedelic compound had helped them overcome depression, while 87 percent reported better life satisfaction after consumption. Addressing reporters, St Vincent’s clinical psychologist Dr. Margaret Ross said, "The way people have described it as is being enriching, beneficial and quite powerful physically."
"It allows them to have a heightened awareness of the situations, to allow them to feel relaxed. It's about finding a new perspective on old problems," director of palliative medicine Associate Professor Mark Boughey added.
The three-year, privately funded trial at St. Vincent's Hospital will commence in April, with thirty patients participating in the first round. On the "dose day", clinicians will be closely monitoring the participants, who must acquire a state government permit to be a part of the trial. If successful at St Vincent's Hospital, clinicians hope the trial will be expanded across the country.
In a conversation with Nine News, a spokeswoman for Palliative Care Australia said they welcomed the breakthrough trial. "This can be triggered by concerns and fears about how they will die, how their families and loved ones will cope as well as existential or spiritual concerns," she said.
However, clinicians are prepared to expect a backlash against the procedure. "This could potentially help so many people, but it needs more research, and we need to understand the exact mechanisms of how psilocybin helps people and how we can optimize treatment," Dr. Ross told the Herald Sun.
Professor Mark Boughey added, "There will be some degree of backlash because everyone will assume this is just about magic mushrooms. But if you look at the studies, it has minimal serious adverse effects. It has great potential."