Psilocybin at the End of Life

Charles Grob, MD

Abstract: This talk will present the findings of a pilot research investigation conducted at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute examining the safety and efficacy of psilocybin treatment in patients with advanced-stage cancer anxiety. This study, funded by the Heffter Research Institute, was the first formal effort in several decades designed to re-examine early promising findings using a psychedelic treatment model to address the psychospiritual demoralization often encountered by individuals with terminal cancer. The significance of observations made by psychedelic research pioneers, including Stanislav Grof and Walter Pahnke, will be described as will the background, methodological design, and results of contemporary investigations of psilocybin treatment. Particular examination will be made of safety parameters as well as potential mechanisms for observed therapeutic outcomes. Medical and cultural implications of developing a psychedelic treatment model at the end of life will be explored.

Charles S. Grob, MD is Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. Prior to his appointment at UCLA, he held teaching and clinical positions at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. Dr. Grob conducted the first government-approved psychobiological research study of MDMA, and was the principal investigator of an international research project in the Brazilian Amazon studying the visionary plant brew ayahuasca. He has also completed and published the first approved research investigation in several decades on the safety and efficacy of psilocybin treatment in terminal cancer patients with anxiety. Dr. Grob is the editor of Hallucinogens: A Reader (Tarcher/Putnam, 2002) and co-editor (with Roger Walsh) of Higher Wisdom: Eminent Elders Explore the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics (SUNY Press, 2005). He is also a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute..

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