Why give psychedelics a chance

A large proportion of patients with life-threatening illness suffer from existential distress.

We do not currently have an effective treatment for existential distress.

Current research shows that psychedelics are a very promising path.

Ira Byock

member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care, author of Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most

"Despite the controversial history of psychedelic medications, palliative specialists who care for patients with serious medical conditions and common, difficult-to-treat nonphysical suffering have a duty to explore these hopeful, potentially life-preserving treatments. Against the backdrop of physician hastened death becoming legal in five states, expanded research of clinical psychedelics must proceed."

Anthony L. Back

University of Washington Center for Excellence in Palliative Care, founder of the VitalTalk project

"As an oncologist and palliative medicine physician, I have faced many times the raw fear of patients near death, and felt incapable in the face of it. The studies about the use of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for existential fear intrigued me. I do not have anything in my therapeutic pocket that is remotely as impactful as what these studies and anecdotes describe. But I felt that I needed to take a journey myself before discussing it seriously, much less recommending it to a patient."

David Steindl-Rast

Austrian Benedictine monk and author

"This book [Psychoactive Sacramentals] will stir up fears. Three are likely to arise: fear of inauthentic spirituality, fear of drugs, and fear of an ill-prepared encounter with the holy. All three are reasonable fears; all three can be overcome by open-minded reasoning plus a modicum of courage. If we can encounter God through a sunrise seen from a mountaintop, why not through a mushroom prayerfully ingested?" 

Sam Moreton

psychologist, School of Psychology, University of Wollongong

"A more promising pharmacological paradigm for the treatment of many common forms of psychopathology (e.g. anxiety and mood-related disorders) would involve lowered reliance on medications that aim to correct a vaguely defined "chemical imbalance," and, instead, turning towards substances that assist in the satisfaction of fundamental human needs. We suggest that psychedelics can bring concerns around mortality to the fore while, at the same time, often providing the opportunity to resolve these concerns."


Back AL. What Psilocybin Taught Me About Dying. J Palliat Med. 2019 Jul;22(7):861-862.
Byock I. Taking Psychedelics Seriously. J Palliat Med. 2018 Apr;21(4):417-421.
Moreton SG, Szalla L, Menzies RE, Arena AF. Embedding existential psychology within psychedelic science: reduced death anxiety as a mediator of the therapeutic effects of psychedelics. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2020 Jan;237(1):21-32.
Steindl-Rast D. Foreword. RobertsT. B. (Ed.) Psychoactive Sacramentals - Essays on Entheogens and Religion. Council on Spiritual Practices. San Francisco 2001.