By Dr. Mercola
According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. may be as high as 40 million, or about 18 percent of the population over the age of 18, making it the most common mental illness in the nation.1,2
This includes generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety and panic disorder. Research3 published in 2015 also noted that anxiety (characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear) is becoming worrisomely prevalent in the U.S., presently eclipsing all forms of cancer by 800 percent.
The conventional approach to anxiety and depression treatment typically involves ineffective and brain-altering drugs. Interestingly, two recent studies suggest the psychedelic drug psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, may have truly profound benefits for cancer patients struggling with anxiety and depression.
Legal Status Limits Medical Research Into Natural Substances Like Magic 'Shrooms
Psilocybin, like marijuana, is a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act.4,5 The mushrooms are typically ingested in their fresh or dried form, or can be made into tea. Large doses have been known to induce panic and/or psychosis.
On the other hand, research shows it can also have the opposite effect — providing long-lasting relief from anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, being a Schedule 1 drug, obtaining scientific support for its medicinal use is extremely difficult and costly.
Last year, London-based psychiatrist James Rucker penned a commentary in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), arguing for the reclassification of LSD and magic mushrooms — which he notes are far less addictive and harmful than heroin and cocaine — in order to make it easier to conduct much needed medical research on them.6
Both LSD and magic mushrooms were widely studied in the late 1960s, prior to their classification as Schedule 1 drugs, which by definition have no medicinal use. According to Rucker:
"Hundreds of papers, involving tens of thousands of patients, presented evidence for their use as psychotherapeutic catalysts of mentally beneficial change in many psychiatric disorders, problems of personality development, recidivistic behavior, and existential anxiety."
Clinical Trials Demonstrate Remarkable Benefits of Magic Mushrooms
In a recent Time Magazine article, Dinah Bazer recounts her personal experience with psilocybin.7 A cancer survivor struggling with severe anxiety (driven by her fear of a recurrence), Bazer agreed to participate in a magic mushroom trial conducted at the NYU Langone Medical Center.
While fear gripped her when the drug first brought her "tumbling through space," the experience ended up being a profoundly healing one:
"… I started to feel love. I felt like I was being bathed in love and it was overwhelming, amazing, wonderful … The feeling of immense love lingered for weeks, and four years later I still feel it at times. My fear and anxiety were completely removed, and they haven't come back …
The experience changed how I wanted to live my life. I used to get up, grab a quick snack and eat it in the car. But I no longer want to be in a hurry. Now I get up an hour early, make a real breakfast and read my paper …
I used to imagine what it would be like if the cancer recurred, but I don't think about it the same way anymore. When I don't feel well and thoughts of a recurrence creep into my mind, I lack fear and simply think, 'Let's just see what happens.'"
Psilocybin — An Immediately Acting Anti-Anxiety Drug
EFT is particularly powerful for treating stress and anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus. These are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat,26,27 and both are involved in anxiety disorders. EFT has also been scientifically shown to lower cortisol levels,28 which are elevated when you're stressed or anxious.
In the video above, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for panic attacks and anxiety relief. Please keep in mind that while anyone can learn to do EFT at home, self-treatment for serious issues like persistent anxiety is not recommended. For serious or complex issues, you need someone to guide you through the process. That said, the more you tap, the more skilled you'll become.
Just recognize that if you have a serious anxiety issue and don't receive any benefit from self-therapy, that it doesn't mean that EFT is useless. It means you need to seek an expert professional consultation that can customize the approach for your specific setting.
It takes many years of training to develop the skills to become an effective therapist, so if one doesn't work, please keep looking. EFT is without a doubt the most effective clinical strategy I have ever used for anxiety, and certainly better than any pharmaceutical drug option.