Video: 'Magic mushrooms' may ease cancer’s anxiety

  1. Closed captioning of: 'Magic mushrooms' may ease cancer’s anxiety

    >>> a controversial new cancer study is out on easing the anxiety in terminalally ill cancer patients. now, it's just a pilot program , but researchers at ucla gave 12 advanced cancer patients a low dose of the active ingredient in magic mushrooms or a placebo. the real drug improved patients' moods and they needed less pain medication , up to six months later. msnbc chief medical editor dr. nancy snydermans joins me now. when i hear 12 people, i say, i don't know. what do you make of the study?

    >> it's a pilot study and the researchers made no bones about the fact it was an initial look at this kind of thing, which we haven't done i must say for decades yet. the active ingredient for our viewers who are old enough to remember is a hallucinogenic that was used a lot of times, along with lsd. and there was some early medical experiments in the '60s and '70s and then it came out of favor once it became a street drug . but the data at least early in these 12 patients looks like that it works. it reduces the anxiety, and it lasted with just one dose for up to six months.

    >> when i was out in california and i did some stories about medical marijuana and then you look at this, and there -- is there a pushback do you think because they are street drugs ? why do you think it's taken so long for this?

    >> well, if you -- if you go back to the '60s and '70s a lot of these things became abused very quickly, mesculn, hash, if they are of medicinal purposes , where are they? they got lost pretty darn fast. and it's taken us as a medical staff, to come back to them. and we know for glaucoma, hiv spais patients it absolutely works. end-of-life patients, quality of life , not length of life, should we revisit some medications. and this pilot study at least says, you know, the answer is yes, further study is needed.

    >> you mentioned marijuana, are there other psychodelek medications that are used, i don't want to say commonly, but in an accepted way?

    >> in a lot of our medical licenses if you look at the back of our licenses, some of us have a category for hallucinogenics, for research purposes. not everybody has those categories, some of us do. and it really is for research reasons. i think increasingly as we talk about cancer as a chronic illness, we're going to have to reopen up some doors and revisit some medications that we've shoved away.

    >> absolutely. people are living longer.

    >> yep.

    >> that's the good news, but it raises new issues as well.

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