Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy Found To Reduce Major Depression and Cancer


Published in two articles, the results of a phase II clinical trial indicate that psilocybin-assisted therapy can benefit people with major depression and cancer. The participants of the trial did not only experience fewer depressive symptoms but were also satisfied with the therapy.

Phase II Open-Label Trial of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy

The phase II open-label trial involved adults suffering from cancer and major depression. There were 30 participants at Sunstone Therapies in Rockville, Maryland. A single dose of 25 mg of psilocybin, along with a therapy session of 1:1, was given.

Lead author Manish Agarwal, MD, explained,

This study was differentiated by its group approach. Cohorts of three to four patients were simultaneously treated with 25 mg of psilocybin in adjacent rooms open at the same time, in a 1:1 therapist-to-patient ratio. The cohorts had preparation for the therapy as well as integration sessions following the psilocybin session as a group,

The participants had moderate-to-severe depression. Dr. Agrawal and his colleagues discovered that after eight weeks of treatment, patients’ depression severity scores reduced by an average of 19.1 points, indicating that the majority no longer experienced depression.

Furthermore, 80% of subjects had a sustained response to treatment, with 50% experiencing complete remission of depression symptoms after one week, which lasted for eight weeks. Most treatment-related side effects, such as nausea and headaches, were mild.

He further said,

As an oncologist for many years, I experienced the frustration of not being able to provide cancer care that treats the whole person, not just the tumor,

This was a small, open-label study and more research needs to be done, but the potential is significant and could have implications for helping millions of patients with cancer who are also struggling with the severe psychological impact of the disease.

Dr. Agrawal is also the senior author of another study led by Yvan Beaussant, MD, MSc, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in which the participants had positive experiences.

Dr. Beaussant said,

As a hematologist and palliative care physician and researcher, it was profoundly moving and encouraging to witness the magnitude of participants’ improvement and the depth of their healing journey following their participation in the trial. Participants overwhelmingly expressed positive sentiments about their experience of psilocybin-assisted therapy while emphasizing the importance of the supportive, structured setting in which it took place,

Many described an ongoing transformative impact on their lives and well-being more than two months after having received psilocybin, feeling better equipped to cope with cancer and, for some, end of life.


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