2. Why should palliative care be an important part of healthcare systems and is there a growing need for palliative care globally?
It is obvious that people get sick everywhere in the world, suffer everywhere in the world and die everywhere in the world.
In under resourced parts of the world, the sad reality is that even the basics needs of pain amelioration for people with cancer and end-of-life considerations are not being met. As you can imagine, the psychological suffering that accompanies the physical suffering is even more accentuated in such settings.
It is necessary for all of us throughout the world to think about how we can address the mental and physical suffering associated with serious illnesses. Including Palliative Care as part of our healthcare systems, it is essential, as it helps to keep people out of hospital, reduces ER visits and improves quality of life, not just for the patient, but also for their families.
3. Why then psychedelics and why in particular, psilocybin in Palliative Care?
Much of the distress that people have to live with when they face an end-of-life diagnosis is mental anguish, fear, anxiety, depression and all its consequences, which impacts on appetite and on relationships.
If we could find a way to positively impact the mental state of patients in need of Palliative Care, such that they are able to be more at peace knowing that their life is ending sooner than they ever would have anticipated, then think about how this could improve their quality of life. Nothing can be worse than existential distress.
Integrating psychedelic therapies into the overall holistic approach to people who are undergoing Palliative Care is certainly a rational approach given that there are many anecdotes of its benefit.
What needs now to be done is to prove that psychedelics actually can help improve mental health in a very objective way. This is one of the reasons why Psyence is committed to an approach that is objective and which finds evidence to support the role of psilocybin, and psychedelics in general, for ameliorating mental health disorders in particular in the context of Palliative Care.
We already see research indicating that “a one-time, single-dose of psilocybin, combined with psychotherapy, appears to be associated with significant improvements in emotional and existential distress in cancer patients. These effects persisted nearly five years after the drug was administered.”
NYU Grossman School of Medicine, 2020