Psychedelics and Palliative Support

2022-04-23 by Jeannie

Psychedelics and Palliative Support

CBC Radio carried a piece this morning (April 11, 2022) on Dr. Valorie Masuda, a Cowichan Valley palliative care doctor who received an exemption from Health Canada to provide psychedelic-assisted therapy to patients with a terminal diagnosis. Frustrated with not being able to help her terminal patients as much as she wanted, Dr. Masuda sourced training a couple of years ago so she can confidently offer psilocybin-assisted therapy.

To date. Dr. Masuda has worked with about 18 patients and is impressed with the results so far. The therapy involves the use of both the psilocybin mushroom and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Combined, this is powerful medicine.  According to Dr. Masuda, 80% of patients experience very positive results that include a less fearful view of the future, a more positive outlook, and a sense that they still have a life worth living. The therapy also seems to help with pain control.

Psychedelic supported therapy is garnering interest among health care professionals who are particularly interested in its potential for helping with hard-to-treat mood disorders such as treatment resistant depression. Depression is often present among those who know they are going to die. The use of psilocybin and other psychedelics offers hope – not only for the patient – but for the professionals who work so hard to provide excellent palliative care.

A problem is the absence of training specific to this work. Beginning in the fall of 2022, Vancouver Island University will offer a graduate program to train health care professionals in psychedelic assisted therapy.[1] This will be the first training program of its kind in Canada.

CBC’s report also mentioned TheraPsil, a small non-profit coalition of physicians and other health-care providers, patients, advocates and community members who are helping patients connect with psilocybin supported therapy as well as medical psilocybin. Their Mission states four primary areas of interest: compassionate access, public education, professional training, and research. The non-profit is based in Victoria and their website[2]is worth looking at.

These are exciting times as psilocybin gains credence in the eyes of the medical world. It surely means that more people will have access to medicine that is harmless to most and effective for many. Good news indeed.