New York — Cancer patients experience immediate, significant, and long-lasting relief from their existential anxiety and depression when they’re treated with psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, two breakthrough studies published Thursday have found. For some patients with advanced cancer, the shock of illness and the accompanying end-of-life dread can lead to hopelessness, demoralization, even suicide. As many as 40% of such patients experience anxiety or depression, and antidepressants work only about as well as placebo treatments. The new studies themselves are dramatic enough, but the Journal of Psychopharmacology reinforces their findings by filling the rest of its issue with expert commentaries exploring everything from the biochemistry of how psilocybin works, to the US drug laws that halted psychiatric research, to confronting the millennia-old conundrum of what Søren Kierkegaard called "the sickness unto death". One study, led by New York University r...

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