Study shows “Spiritual” effects of mushrooms last a year


Maggie Fox / Reuters | July 1, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The “spiritual” effects of psilocybin from so-called sacred mushrooms last for more than a year and may offer a way to help patients with fatal diseases or addictions, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

The researchers also said their findings show there are safe ways to test psychoactive drugs on willing volunteers, if guidelines are followed.

In 2006, Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues gave psilocybin to 36 volunteers and asked them how it felt. Most reported having a “mystical” or “spiritual” experience and rated it positively.

More than a year later, most still said the experience increased their sense of well-being or life satisfaction, Griffiths and colleagues report in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

“This is a truly remarkable finding,” Griffiths said in a statement. “Rarely in psychological research do we see such persistently positive reports from a single event in the laboratory.”

The findings may offer a way to help treat extremely anxious and depressed patients, or people with addictions, said Griffiths, whose work was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“This gives credence to the claims that the mystical-type experiences some people have during hallucinogen sessions may help patients suffering from cancer-related anxiety or depression and may serve as a potential treatment for drug dependence,” Griffiths said.

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