Anyone who has sat bedside to a dying loved one knows the intense physical and mental distress involved. The last days of a terminally ill patient are precious, and an experimental program will begin this April, giving magic mushrooms to gravely sick patients in an Australian hospital.

Similar trials have taken place in the United States, with significant result found at New York University and Johns Hopkins. Subjects exposed to psilocybin (the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms) showed a significant decrease in depression, anxiety and existential distress.

Six months after the treatment, 70 percent of NYU patients cited their “magic” trial as one of the top five spiritually significant experiences of their lives, while 87 percent reported increased satisfaction in life, despite being on death’s door.

“What we try to do in palliative care at the moment is to relieve the pain and suffering as much as possible by giving people pain medication. But morphine’s not going to take away their anxiety or their depression,” Dr. Stephen Bright told Vice in 2018.

As for the 2019 trial in Australia, 30 terminally ill patients will begin psilocybin treatment at Melbourne’s St. Vincent’s Hospital in April.

St. Vincent’s clinic psychologist Dr. Margaret Ross tells NewsCorp, “The US study was really profound: some people were able to transcend their ideas about dying. It really relaxes those old rigid ways we have built up in the way we look at the world.” [via Vice]

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