The Hallucinogenic Way of Dying
Almost as soon as Dr. Charles Grob secured approval to study the effects of psilocybin on Stage IV cancer patients, he faced another challenge, one nearly as formidable: recruiting 12 participants. Unlike so many other experiments in radical cancer treatment, Grob's does not offer a cure; he merely hopes to find that psilocybin, the most potent of the many compounds in psychedelic mushrooms, ameliorates a dying person's fear of death. The study targets patients relegated to "palliative" treatment, people with metastatic cancer for whom there is no reasonable hope for remission. It is a segment of the population, says the National Cancer Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine – which put out a call in 2001 for "novel" approaches to palliative treatment – largely ignored by medical science.