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    end-stage cancer psychedelics hallucinogens ICEERS study

    Serotonergic Hallucinogens in End-Stage Cancer


    Serotonergic hallucinogens/psychedelics could be promising treatments for depressive and anxiety disorders in end-stage cancer

    Rafael Guimarães dos Santos, José Carlos Bouso, and Jaime E. C. Hallak.

    BMC Psychiatry



    About the study

    Serotonergic hallucinogens/psychedelics were investigated for treating symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients suffering life-threatening diseases since the early 1960’s.

    The results consistently showed that single or few doses of serotonergic hallucinogens/psychedelics can be effective for reducing depression and anxiety symptoms in patients with cancer in terminal phase.

    Moreover, in all studies reviewed, these compounds were well tolerated and produced rapid and sustained improvements in anxiety and depression.



    Background: In a recent issue of the BMC Psychiatry, the evidence of effectiveness of treatments for psychiatric conditions in end-stage cancer patients was reviewed (Johnson, 2018). The review was comprehensive, and included traditional and non-traditional/alternative treatments, including herbal medicines and spirituality. However, evidence showing that classic or serotonergic hallucinogens/psychedelics such as psilocybin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) could be effective treatments for depressive and anxiety disorders in end-stage cancer was not included.

    Methods: In this commentary, we expand the information available on the original article by briefly reviewing data from recent placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over clinical trials showing evidence that administration of single (or few) doses of LSD and psilocybin was associated with rapid and sustained reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms in patients with end-stage cancer and other life-threatening diseases (e.g., Bechterew’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Celiac disease).

    Conclusions: Since these substances seem to produce rapid and sustained therapeutic effects with single (or few) doses and well tolerated, large-scale, prospective, multi-site studies of end-stage cancer and classical/serotonergic hallucinogens/psychedelics should be performed to improve our understanding of the therapeutic potentials of these drugs and their use on clinical practice.


    Link to the article


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    Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash.

    Categories: Studies & papers , Psychedelics
    Tags: scientific research , study , psychiatry , LSD , psilocybin , psychedelics , depression , hallucinogens , psycho-oncology , cancer , anxiety