BCCT plans to write a summary on inocybeumbrinella (psilocybin or magic mushrooms), one of several medicinal mushrooms. While our summary is in development, you can visit these sources for more information:
- 3 Biotech: Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review
- New Yorker Magazine: The Trip Treatment
- New York Times: My Adventures with the Trip Doctors
BCCT advisor, hospice and palliative care physician and author BJ Miller, MD, discusses the use of psychedelics in palliative care.
Phase I and II clinical trials of psilocybin have been conducted in patients with advanced cancer. A number of research institutions are applying for approval to conduct Phase III trials to study its effect on anxiety in people with advanced-stage cancer.
Before using this therapy, consult your oncology team about interactions with other treatments and therapies. Also make sure this therapy is safe for use with any other medical conditions you may have.
The legality of psilocybin varies from country to country.1 In the United States, psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the FDA, meaning it is considered to have no currently accepted medical use and/or a high potential for abuse and is illegal to prescribe, possess or transport in the United States, outside of sanctioned clinical trials.
In most states cultivating these mushrooms is illegal, except in New Mexico, where growing them is not considered cultivation. Selling the spores is legal in most states, but selling them with the purpose of producing hallucinogenic mushrooms is illegal.
Thus, possessing or using psilocybin or magic mushrooms carries risk of criminal prosecution. Fines and/or imprisonment are possible in the United States. In 2019, Colorado decriminalized psilocybin use, meaning that use is still illegal, but as a misdemeanor, and penalties are typically less than for felony convictions. Possession is still a felony.2
BCCT does not recommend that anyone break the law to obtain psychedelics, such as psilocybin, even though they are widely used and disseminated in the United States and beyond. For those making ethical, conscience-based choices to use psychedelics for compassionate use in cancer, we can simply report that many people find their way to experienced guides such as those recommended by James Fadiman in The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys. Other resources about this include Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and Heffter Research Institute.
- Pollan, M. How to Change Your Mind. 2018. New York: Penguin Press.
- Griffiths RR, Johnson MW et al. Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized double-blind trial Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2016 Dec;30(12):1181-1197.
- Grob CS, Danforth AL et al. Pilot study of psilocybin treatment for anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;68(1):71-8.
- Ross S, Bossis A et al. Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2016 Dec;30(12):1165-1180.
- Bayne T, Carter O. Dimensions of consciousness and the psychedelic state. Neuroscience of Consciousness, 2018 Jan 1;2018(1).
- Psychedelic Support
- University of Arizona: Body of Wonder