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Towards the end of life

Psychedelic processing of death anxiety

Psykedelika som psilocybin kan redusere frykten for døden

Psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD have shown to have a transformative effect on a person's fears in the face of serious illness and death. Over the years, a large number of serious studies have been carried out, and many who have had psychedelic experiences outside of research can tell about the same. Our wish would be that everyone who, in one way or another, faces imminent death is offered psilocybin treatment. In Norway, unfortunately, this is probably a few years into the future. In the meantime, it would be an honor if we could help those who are critically ill or dying to gain a new understanding and calmness about what lies ahead. 

Feel free to read this article to gain an understanding of how psilocybin can reduce death anxiety. 

One of the first major studies on psychedelics in modern times was conducted at Johns Hopkins University on a group of patients with life-threatening cancer. Two similar studies were conducted in 2011 and 2014 with 12 participants, so the aim here was to see if the results held up in a larger population (56 participants). All studies were double-blind and placebo-controlled. All participants had potentially life-threatening cancer diagnoses and marked symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. One group received a high dose of psilocybin, corresponding to 3.5 g of mushroom (P. Cubensis), and the placebo group received a low dose, corresponding to 0.25 g of mushroom. Before taking the medicine, they had an average of three preparatory meetings. There were two therapists present throughout the process and the room where the treatment took place was a "cozy" room with plants, pictures and a sofa where the participants had to lie. Following the medicine day, the participants had an average of six integration meetings, again with both therapists present.

The results were measured by asking both the participants themselves and other observers such as family, colleagues and friends. 62% reported that the high-dose experience was among the five most meaningful experiences they have had in their life, where experiences such as the birth of a child, death in close family, weddings and the like were on the list. 86% reported a moderate to high increase in quality of life, a figure that only decreased by 3.5% over six months. When measuring the reduction of symptoms for anxiety and depression, the results were 52-60% for the high-dose group compared to 12-16% for the placebo group.

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