There is mounting evidence that establishing connections via psychedelic medicine like psilocybin mushrooms can help palliative care patients with end-of-life dread. Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound in multiple species of mushrooms and, although the evidence is mostly anecdotal, experts are confident in it’s use for terminally-ill patients.
TheraPsil, a non-profit coalition of health-care professionals, patients, and advocates who are working to gain legal access to the psychedelic medicine, psilocybin, on compassionate grounds, and they’ve spent the last ninety-nine days asking Canada’s Health Minister for her help.
“Psilocybin can help facilitate a deeper connection allowing patients to confront difficult emotions that lead to psychiatric distress,” shares Dr. Bruce Tobin, founder and executive chairman of TheraPsil.
Dr. Tobin explains that this connection, both socially and on a spiritual level, is essential in palliative care patients. “Our interpersonal relationships are the bedrock of our sense of personal value, personal identity, and meaning in life,” says Dr. Tobin. “For most of us, dying well means dying with a sense of being emotionally connected to those we share the love with, to be ‘at one’ with them.” In Dr. Tobin’s clinical experience, psilocybin allows patients a much deeper than usual access to their memories and emotions. “This expanded vision leads to peace and acceptance of death, and a renewed optimism that every day I have left can be meaningfully lived,” says Dr. Tobin.
A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed positive effects when combining psilocybin and psychotherapy to treat psychiatric distress in terminally-ill cancer patients. The study showed that 80% of participants self-reported improvement during treatment experiencing reductions in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, demoralization, and death anxiety.
To legally access this treatment in Canada, a patient or their physician must apply for an exemption under Section 56 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. TheraPsil is about to enter its 100th day of asking, along with a number of advocates, for Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu to approve applications from four terminally-ill cancer patients requesting access to psilocybin treatment.
One of the palliative care patients involved told CTV News that his terminal cancer causes him debilitating anxiety on a daily basis, taking the joy out of his remaining days. Another, named Laurie Brooks, committed her plea to a video that has been widely-shared online.
After daily follow up emails, and social media videos directed at the Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, outlining the unprecedented wait, the TheraPsil team was granted a phone meeting with Michelle Boudreau , Director General of the Office of Controlled Substances.
The office submitted to TheraPsil the following memo from that meeting: “While exemption applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, these will also be evaluated as a group because of the similar elements of all applications. A completed decision package is targeted to be provided to the DG, CSD by August 4, 2020, for all 4 patient requests.”
Patients like Thomas Hartle from Saskatchewan, Laurie Brooks from BC, and two more anonymous patients, are now anxiously awaiting the August 4th decision.
Are you an individual experiencing end-of-life distress, or know someone who is? You are invited to confidentially contact TheraPsil through the TheraPsil website.
While more research is needed, groups like TheraPsil are moving research forward to help patients access innovative treatments to ease suffering and improve quality of life. TheraPsil will continue to advocate for terminally ill patients and demand that the government acknowledge their applications for psilocybin access.
We invite members of the media to download the TheraPsil package on our Media Kit page to find out more about this trailblazing Canadian non-profit, their mission, and organizational overview.