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Click here for more about Psychoactive Drugs and Medical Use.



Psilocybin Drug Trials Underway

Some scientists and psychotherapists believe that psychoactive drugs like psilocybin have a better chance than conventional treatments of successfully managing many conditions. According to an AlterNet September 10, 2008 article,("Is Doctor-Prescribed LSD and 'Shrooms on the Way?") "In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved, but not funded, a pilot study aiming to see if the euphoria and insight of a mild psychedelic 'trip' can ease the physical and emotional pain experienced by thousands of terminal cancer patients each year. Charles Grob, Professor of Psychiatry and Paediatrics at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre, California, and lead scientist on the cancer-psilocybin trial, said: 'There is great potential. A significant patient population may gain benefits from these treatments.' Professor Grob will be one of the first scientists in 25 years to administer psilocybin to a person in a therapeutic setting. He wants to see if people's lives can be improved if psychoactive drugs are used under carefully controlled conditions."

The article states, "In the past it seemed to work: in the 60s, cancer sufferers reported less anxiety, a reduced fear of death, better moods, and surprisingly, even less pain in the weeks after treatment with LSD, which is similar in structure and effect to psilocybin. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, Britain and many European countries were active centres of psychoactive drug research. Dr Kate Law, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: 'With full, informed consent, we have no problem with it in principle. These patients are adults and people make their own choices. It is right that we look at these chemicals with the same stringent standards as we do for other drugs.' However, Dr Law said Cancer Research UK will only support this type of research if there was an analgesic effect--and the preliminary results suggest the overall procedure did not confuse or harm the patient. Dr Ken Checinski is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and senior lecturer at St Georges Medical School, London. He says it is a question of balancing the benefits and the risks. 'In terminal care the patient has a right to be pain free, but also has a right to go about their business in the usual way during the final weeks of their lives. 'It's unacceptable to be made psychologically unwell during this period. 'But most drugs also have a medical use--amphetamine and cocaine derivatives, opiates, tranquillisers and now the cannabinols--so there is no reason why we shouldn't consider using the serotonin agonists (hallucinogens)."

The article adds, "A similar study involving psilocybin and the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is nearing completion at the University of Arizona. And an MDMA (ecstasy) trial for the counselling of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) victims is finally underway after a bureaucratic bad-trip with red tape. 'We are re-opening an area that has been shut down for 25 years,' said Professor Grob. 'A couple of groups have established credibility through the formal channels. It may take time but it's possible."

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