Two recent studies have found that even a single dose of the drug psilocybin can leave cancer patients happier and more at peace with life for up to six months.
Currently, physicians cannot access psilocybin because it is a restricted Schedule 1 substance, so to come into commercial use, the drug would have to be redesignated by the FDA. This would require a larger study than the two recently completed, and that larger study is awaiting FDA approval. However, researchers hope this will happen quickly because it is rare for a drug treatment to have such unambiguous effects on mood for cancer patients.
The drug's effects were not seen only on happiness, but also on a sense of well-being and of being taken care of by the universe. One patient said that her "cloud of doom seemed to lift," and another said she felt "bathed in...love" after months of depression and anxiety. As Craig Blinderman, a palliative care physician, noted, this kind of substance effect is similar to the feelings that sometimes follow shamanic treatments.