Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects

This double-blind, randomized study (n=18) investigated the effects of psilocybin at different dosages. It found that positive effects were most pronounced at 20/30mg per 70kg. At two and 14 months later, participants indicated positive changes and rated the experience as one of the top 5 life experiences.


Objectives This double-blind study evaluated psilocybin (0, 5, 10, 20, 30 mg/70 kg, p.o.) administered under supportive conditions.

Methods Participants were 18 adults (17 hallucinogen-naΓ―ve). Five 8-hour sessions were conducted individually for each participant at 1-month intervals. Participants were randomized to receive the four active doses in either ascending or descending order (9 participants each). Placebo was scheduled quasi-randomly. During sessions volunteers used eyeshades and were instructed to direct their attention inward. Volunteers completed questionnaires assessing effects immediately after and 1 month after each session, and at 14 months follow-up.

Results Psilocybin produced acute perceptual and subjective effects including, at 20 and/or 30 mg/70 kg, extreme anxiety/fear (39% of volunteers) and/or mystical-type experience (72% of volunteers). One month after sessions at the two highest doses, volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal and spiritual significance, and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes, mood, and behavior, with the ascending dose sequence showing greater positive effects. At 14 months, ratings were undiminished and were consistent with changes rated by community observers. Both the acute and persisting effects of psilocybin were generally a monotonically increasing function of dose, with the lowest dose showing significant effects.

Conclusions Under supportive conditions, 20 and 30 mg/70 kg psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences having persisting positive effects on attitudes, mood and behavior. Implications for therapeutic trials are discussed.”

Authors: Roland R. Griffiths, Matthew W. Johnson, William A. Richards, Brian D. Richards, Una McCann & Robert Jesse


This work builds on the earlier work by Griffiths et al (2006) that first identified the mystical-type experiences and at a 14-month follow-up (Griffiths et al, 2008) saw that it mediated personal meaning and spiritual significance.

A follow-up study (Johnson et al., 2012) was done on the transient headaches experienced by the participants in a dose-dependent way.

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