A new case report documents the cancer journey of a 49-year-old woman. After the diagnosis of advanced metastatic breast cancer, she received chemotherapy while additionally taking cannabis oil and magic mushrooms, which contains psilocybin. This, fortunately, stopped the disease from spreading. After stopping chemo, she continued to take cannabis and psilocybin for 18 months. But when she stopped medicating, the cancer recurred. This observational study cannot ascertain the extent of the drug’s effect on her cancer or to recommend similar action for other patients; however, it can open the door to future research into psychoactive drugs and cancer treatment. 
Case Details: The Cancer Progression and Treatment
The unnamed woman was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in August 2018. Tests found it spreading to her lymph nodes, liver, and bones. She began chemotherapy immediately as well as taking monoclonal antibody drugs. On her own, she decided to take cannabis oil every day, which includes CBD (which has potential medical benefits) and THC (which causes the psychoactive “high” effect). Under a doctor’s direction, she slowly increased the dose until the psychoactive effect felt too intense. Scans from October found that the tumors have reduced in size by half.
Soon after, she additionally began ‘intermittent’ micro-dosing of magic mushrooms under medical supervision. This process involves taking a small dose of psilocybin — a tenth of what’s needed to get ‘high’ — throughout the day. In November, she also had a session in a sensory deprivation tank where she took a larger amount in a medical setting. Sensory deprivation is thought to contribute to relaxation while helping the user see more vivid hallucinations. Immediately, after the session, she received a psychotherapy ‘reintegration’ session to process her trip.
In follow-up tests in January 2019, the cancer was completely gone. As a result, she stopped chemo but continued taking Herceptin, one of the drugs prescribed initially. She also continued with the daily doses of cannabis oil and psilocybin micro-doses. Additionally, she underwent three more sessions of psychedelic therapy over this period of time.
Scans from September 2019 showed her cancer still in remission. At that point, she stopped taking magic mushrooms and halved her cannabis oil intake. For the next 18 months, she remained cancer-free. However, in June 2020, tests showed cancer had reappearance. Since then, she restarted chemotherapy, began radiotherapy, and increased her cannabis doses under medical supervision. Follow-up appointments in October 2021 showed the cancer has stabilized, although there were no details provided about the severity of the disease at this time.
Read: A man with stage-4 cancer was told he wouldn’t live to see his kids grow up. A rare surgery might give him a chance.
Cannabis, Psilocybin, and Cancer
Rayyan Zafar and colleagues documented her story in an observational case study to make note of the potential of cannabis and psilocybin in cancer treatment. However, this study doesn’t include a biomedical analysis of the woman’s cancer progression and her treatments, so it can’t attest to the effectiveness of her protocol when it comes to other cases. As they wrote, “This brings up the possibility that withdrawal of the cannabinoid and psychedelic therapies may have contributed to the return of the cancer.” 
While this research is still in its early stages, previous studies found that psilocybin could fight tumors through depriving them of proteins needed to grow and spread. While research shows mixed results, cannabinoids may treat tumors similarly. However, there’s no strong evidence these two drugs could cure cancer. But they have been prescribed alongside chemotherapy. For instance, medical cannabis can help cancer patients feel less pain and nausea. Animal studies suggested the substance could slow or reduce the spread of some kinds of cancer, although it can control or cure it, and human trials are planned to expand on these findings. 
Psilocybin also may help cancer patients experiencing anxiety and depression associated with the diagnosis. In a small study, 24 adults with major depression took two doses of magic mushroom alongside psychotherapy, and most found improvements in their mental health status. At the four-week follow-up, half of the participants achieved remission.  While psilocybin may help with symptoms of depression, it’s important to note that marijuana can worsen depression or other mental illnesses.
More research is needed to understand these substances and their potential benefits and detriments to cancer patients. Relying on these drugs alone while avoiding or delaying conventional cancer treatment is inadvisable, and could result in serious health consequences. 
In the meantime, observational studies like this one can provide hope for the potential future of cancer treatment. As the study’s authors conclude, “The overall picture of the case presents the strong possibility that cannabinoids and psychedelics have played an important modulatory or additive role to standardized treatment, which warrants further exploration.”
Keep Reading: A woman with terminal cancer says taking ‘magic’ mushrooms eased her depression and helped her process a miscarriage she had decades ago
- “Cannabis And Psilocybin May Have Helped This Woman’s Breast Cancer Treatment.” IFL Science. Ben Taub. September 26, 2022
- “Raising awareness: The implementation of medical cannabis and psychedelics used as an adjunct to standard therapy in the treatment of advanced metastatic breast cancer.” SAGE Journals. September 22, 2022.
- “Marijuana and Cancer.” American Cancer Society. August 3, 2022
- “Psychedelic Treatment with Psilocybin Shown to Relieve Major Depression.” John Hopkins Medicine. Vanessa McMains. October 29, 2020
- “Cannabis, CBD oil and cancer.” Cancer Research UK. August 19, 2022