Exploring the Benefits of Using Magic Mushrooms for Existential Anxiety & End-of-Life Care

Exploring the Benefits of Using Magic Mushrooms for Existential Anxiety & End-of-Life Care

End-of-life care facilities are now using magic mushrooms to help people dealing with the existential anxiety that can accompany a terminal diagnosis. Here’s everything you need to know about using psilocybin for this kind of care, such as what the research shows, how it’s used, and other alternatives.

What Are Magic Mushrooms & Psilocybin?

Magic mushrooms are a class of fungi that contain psilocybin and psilocin, psychedelic compounds that interact with the central and peripheral nervous systems. Research suggests that psilocybin and psilocin mimic serotonin, a neurotransmitter naturally found in our brains that’s linked closely with mood, outlook on life, and our ability to perceive the world around us. Consuming psilocybin or psilocin typically causes you to experience the world differently through a stark change in sensory perception. Most users report a powerfully emotional or mystical experience — allowing them to see things from a different perspective even long after the immediate effects have worn off. Because of this, psychedelics can alter our outlook on life and change our understanding of life and death, making them extremely helpful as a medicine for the mind.

How is Psilocybin Used In Palliative Care?

Palliative care focuses on making patients with complex and terminal diagnoses feel more comfortable, often focusing on relieving symptoms and helping them cope with the unsettling concept of death. Some doctors use magic mushrooms and the active ingredient, psilocybin, as a part of their palliative care efforts in Canada, where psilocybin is legal for end-of-life patients. Others use it as a means of managing depression, anxiety, severe pain, and other mental health disorders. In the few places it’s legal for medical purposes — including Canada, Oregon, and Washington D.C. — certified doctors must administer psilocybin, usually in a tablet, though it can be injected intravenously.

What is Existential Anxiety?

Existential anxiety is any anxious or overwhelming feeling regarding your sense of self, self-worth, or place in the real world. This type of anxiety arises when we question our life’s purpose or the purpose of life as a whole. Many people coping with existential anxiety struggle to find meaning in life and to understand the purpose and pain of existence. Most people diagnosed with it struggle with a plan for their future and in finding importance in what they do. Existential anxiety is common in the elderly and people with a terminal diagnosis.

Research: Magic Mushrooms For Existential Anxiety

Psilocybin and psilocin have been used to help treat existential anxiety and aid people in coping with their existence, meaning, and connection to the world around them. Research completed by Johns Hopkins Medicine supports that psilocybin produces clinically significant results in treating terminally-ill cancer patients dealing with depression and existential anxiety. The drugs helped patients cope with their condition and situation and allowed them to find meaning and comfort in the present. Most importantly for end-of-life patients, mushrooms can reduce confusion and fear about the future.

Study #1: Perceived Depression

In 2016, the Beckley Foundation completed and published a small study showing that psilocybin produced clinically significant improvements in patients’ perceived depression levels after dosing. Perhaps most crucially, the benefits lasted about six...

Alternatives to Psilocybin For End of Life Care

In addition to psilocybin, there are other psychedelic substances used in end-of-life care to help patients manage symptoms and deal with existential anxiety. Some alternatives to psilocybin include LSD, 5-MeO-DMT, 4-AcO-DMT, Mescaline, and Ketamine. Each of these substances has unique effects and considerations when used in a therapeutic context.

The Importance of Set & Setting

When utilizing magic mushrooms or other psychedelics for end-of-life care, it is crucial to establish a supportive and safe environment for the individual. The mindset and setting in which the experience takes place can greatly influence the outcome and overall therapeutic benefit of the session. Ensuring a calm, comfortable, and nurturing environment can enhance the healing potential of the psychedelic experience.

Key Takeaways: Psilocybin and Psilocin for End-of-Life Care

Using magic mushrooms and psilocybin in end-of-life care can provide profound benefits for patients dealing with existential anxiety and terminal diagnoses. These substances have shown promise in alleviating symptoms, improving mood, and offering a new perspective on life and death. Research continues to explore the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in palliative care settings, offering hope for those seeking relief and comfort in their final days.

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