FAQs

What is psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a psychoactive substance that acts on specific brain receptors resulting in changes of perception and cognition. In medicine, psilocybin and similar substances such as mescaline and dimethyltryptamine are often called "hallucinogens."

Psilocybin occurs naturally in certain mushrooms (also referred to as "magic mushrooms"). For possibly thousands of years, mushrooms containing psilocybin have been used  in religious and healing practices to induce mystical or spiritual states of consciousness.

What effect of psilocybin is expected in people with advanced or recurring cancer?

In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers studied the effects of psychedelic drugs and found promising improvements in mood and anxiety, as well as a diminished need for narcotic pain medication among advanced-stage cancer patients. The research was abandoned in the early 1970s in the wake of widespread recreational usage that led to stiff federal laws regulating hallucinogens.

A person receiving a diagnosis of cancer is faced with multiple and severe physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. Often, the resulting anxiety and hopelessness increase physical symptoms such as pain or nausea and interfere with the patient's quality of life.

The rationale of this clinical study is to determine if an experience with psilocybin will lead to changes in perception and awareness resulting in improvements in anxiety, depression, pain, attitude towards disease progression, quality of life, and spirituality in patients with cancer.

How long will the effect of psilocybin last?

It is hypothesized that an onetime experience with psilocybin will occasion dramatic shifts in consciousness and awareness that will lead to short-term (i.e. hours to days) and long-term (up to 6 months in this study, following the administration of the second dose of either psilocybin or placebo) improvement in anxiety, depression, and pain associated with advanced cancer. The exact mechanism of action is still unclear.

How and where will the drug be administered?

This clinical study is performed at the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research at the NYU College of Dentistry. Study participants will be carefully prepared during a series of meetings, followed by two sessions in which they will receive psilocybin.

The potential therapeutic effects of psilocybin are thought to be a product of both the substance and the very specific conditions under which it is administered. In other words, the potential effects of psilocybin depends also on the patient's expectations and the environment in which it is taken.

Psilocybin will be given in an especially for this study designed room with comfortable furniture, artwork and dim lighting, providing patients with a relaxing and comfortable living room-like setting.

Psilocybin will be given in an especially for this study designed room with comfortable furniture, artwork and dim lighting, providing patients with a relaxing and comfortable living room-like setting.

During the sessions, study participants are accompanied by experienced study personnel with whom they have developed a trusting relationship during the preparatory meetings. The time in which psilocybin is in effect will be spent in quiet internal reflection.

For more information and details regarding this study, please contact us.

The Film
A patient talks about the effect of Psilocybin on her anxiety
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