Drugs including magic mushrooms and MDMA are being used to treat cancer patients and people suffering from social anxiety by scientists in the US, in a series of groundbreaking studies.
In a recent study, cancer patient in New York were given magic mushrooms, which contain psilocybin, a powerful psychoactive drug with effects similar to LSD.
Psychologists monitoring the experiment wanted to find out if the drug could help patients overcome their pain and fear, and the results were positive.
"The worst pain and the worst fear and the worst anxiety turned into … the most precious thing I have ever known," said Estalyn Walcoff, a psychotherapist diagnosed with an untreatable form of lymphoma who took part in the study.
"I wish I could put it into words, but it was a sense of connectedness that runs through all of us," she told the Times.
New York University clinical psychologist Anthony Boss, who led the study, confirmed that participants had reported a lasting improvement in their psychological wellbeing.
"People talk about achieving a transcendence that serves as a buffer against the angst," he said.
The study follows similar tests by scientists at Johns Hopkins University, and a pilot study using LSD by Charles Grob at Harbor UCLA Medical Center in LA, in which a dozen terminally ill cancer patients took part.
It was the first study to involve LSD approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 40 years.
Psychologist Timothy Leary famously conducted experiments with LSD and psilocybin at Harvard University in the 1960s, and claimed the drugs could be used to treat alcoholics and reform criminals.
Novelist Aldous Huxley was part of Leary's Harvard psilocybin project, and took LSD on his deathbed in 1963.