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THE EMERGENCY SHROOM

Psilocybin from hallucinogenic mushrooms greatly eases anxiety in cancer patients, and the effect might be permanent

@Douglas_Main

SAFETY CHECK: Researchers say no long-term problems have been seen in the patients studied so far.

IN 2010, doctors diagnosed Dinah Bazer with ovarian cancer. After treatment and chemotherapy, it went into remission, but as the months wore on, she became increasingly terrified that the disease might return. Two years after diagnosis, she felt worse than ever. “The fear was eating me alive,” she says. “It was destroying my life.”

She heard about a study at New York University, where physicians were using psilocybin—the active ingredient in psychoactive mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe, referred to by some as magic mushrooms—to treat cancer patients struggling with extreme anxiety and depression. After being carefully screened, Bazer entered the study and got to know the psychologists running it during her many therapy sessions. Then, one day, she was given a moderately high dose of psilocybin.

After feeling the drug kick in, she felt as if she was lost at sea, afraid. One of her therapists held her hand, and this gave her mooring. She had a vision of her fear as a dark mass under her rib cage. It was consuming her. She became angry, furious. “Get the fuck out!” she screamed.

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