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Study: Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Could Help Cancer Patients
"Magic mushrooms" are sprouting up in medical research. A new study finds the active chemical in some mushrooms may help cancer patients who are suffering from psychological distress. But people who use them in the United States could end up in jail.
On the menu at Mellow Mushroom in Austin -- holy shitake pie. The pizza, made with three kinds of mushrooms, is popular with patrons looking for a healthy fix.
A controversial chemical in some mushrooms is being served up to cancer patients to help them cope with stress.
"Biggest concern I have is it's a hallucinogen which means your sense of reality is impaired," said Angela Vickrey.
They're called "magic mushrooms" and contain an active ingredient called psilocybin.
Psilocybin can be found in over 200 varieties of mushrooms but you won't find any in your local grocery store. That's because the naturally occurring compound is illegal in the U.S.
When ingested, the body metabolizes psilocybin, which according to some researchers, activates the brain's "pleasure receptors" -- producing a euphoric effect.
'I took three little things that looked innocent and it was mind blowing," said Angela.
Angela, who asked us not to use her last name, claims magic mushrooms were anything but calming.
"It was weird, I couldn't stop laughing. The next thing you know I was scared," recalled Angela.
Drug counselor's call that a bad trip and caution cancer patients from self-medicating with magic mushrooms.
"It's not a physical addiction as much as a psychological addiction which is my concern when people think they can use it for medical reasons," said Vickrey.
Vickrey suggests using legal anti-depressants instead.
"I thought it was a little vegetable or something and turned out to be very bad," added Angela.
One study was conducted by the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research. Some cancer patients who participated in the psilocybin anxiety study reported improved psychological well-being.
By Alex Boyer