A newly established nonprofit organization aims to “transform” the end-of-life experience through the therapeutic use of psychedelics.
The stated mission of Florida-based End of Life Psychedelic Care (EOLPC) is to educate health care providers, policymakers and the public as well as foster access to those substances for terminally ill patients.
“Everyone deserves compassionate care as they face a terminal illness, and that includes education and access to the transformative potential of psychedelic-assisted care,” Christine Caldwell, founder and executive director of EOLPC said in a statement. “Our organization is dedicated to a psychosocial and spiritual approach, and I can’t think of a better type of person to support an individual and their family than someone who works as an end-of-life doula or a hospice chaplain or volunteer.”
EOLPC will be offering classes in psychedelic and integrative wellness for patients nearing the end of life, as well as a death doula training program and marketing initiatives.
Psychedelics have become a hot topic in health care, particularly regarding mental health, hospice and palliative care.
Researchers have identified a number of potential clinical benefits, including reduction of anxiety, depression and improved acceptance of mortality, according to a 2019 literature review in the journal Current Oncology.
Momentum has been building towards the decriminalization of psychedelics, often for medical use. Several jurisdictions also have passed laws allowing for more extensive research opportunities.
Research efforts are also accelerating. For example, Johns Hopkins Medicine in 2019 established a Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research backed by $17 million in grants.
In January, researchers at the University of Colorado Denver received a $2.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute for a five-year study on psilocybin-assisted therapy for late-stage cancer patients.
The following month, the University of California Davis (UC Davis) launched an Institute for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics to help develop treatments for an assortment of physical and mental health conditions.
“Psychedelics have a unique ability to produce long-lasting changes in the brain that are relevant to treating numerous conditions,” said David E. Olson, associate professor at UC Davis, in a press release. “If we can harness those beneficial properties while engineering molecules that are safer and more scalable, we can help a lot of people.”
This week, Ohio State University and its research partner Inner State also received authorization from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to conduct research on potential medical uses of psychedelics.
Meanwhile, venture capitalists and other investors are spending billions to get on the ground floor of what could become a new health care industry.
The psychedelics industry is expected to bring in more than $6.85 billion by 2027, Forbes reported. Many of these investors are seeking to reproduce the lucrative results of the cannabis industry that emerged in the wake of legalization among a number of states.
Among EOLPC’s early initiatives is the design of a multidisciplinary “end-of-life psychedelic care team” model that would include trained mental health therapists and facilitators, end-of-life doulas, hospice chaplains, and mind-body-spirit practitioners.
“The launch of EOLPC marks a crucial step towards recognizing the profound healing potential of psychedelics in end-of-life care,” Psychologist and EOLPC Advisory Board Member Stuart Sovatsky said. “By merging ancient wisdom with modern science, we aim to create a safe and sacred space for individuals to explore their inner landscapes, find meaning, and make peace with their mortality.”