Treating cluster headaches with LSD and psilocybin

magic_mushrooms.jpgNeurology has an interesting report on the use of low doses of the hallucinogenic drugs LSD and psilocybin to treat cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches are incredibly painful and tend to occur frequently, making them particularly distressing for sufferers.

There were anecdotal reports that LSD and psilocybin (the main active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’) helped relieve these headaches and researchers have started to investigate more fully.

The Neurology study interviewed 53 cluster headache patients who had used psilocybin or LSD to treat their condition and found a significant number had their condition improved.

As cluster headaches are associated with the abnormal release of serotonin in the brain, and LSD and psilocybin largely work on the serotonin system, there is some theoretical basis for how the drugs might work.

However, this is a complex and poorly understood area so further controlled trials are now being planned to see whether the improvement is anything more than the placebo effect.

Interestingly, the study thanks drugs information site Erowid, as the site was involved in data collection and recruiting participants.

Research into LSD treatment for headaches was discussed in a recent edition of BBC All in the Mind.

Link to full text of paper.

4 Comments

  1. crimsongirl
    Posted July 18, 2006 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    This shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone in the headache field. The drug Migranal (dihydroergotamine) is prescribed for migraine headaches, and it is classified as an ergot alkaloid. LSD was also first derived from research on ergot, and rye fungus has been named as the cause of hallucinations in many cases.

  2. Kschltr
    Posted July 18, 2006 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    CRIMSONGIRL is quite correct. Ergot derived medications for migraine type headaches are available are far safer in my opinion post lab reduction in the useful aspects of the biomolecular structures which limit the adverse effects of crude ergot alkaloids such as LSD-25 and or raw Psylociben.
    LSD was used on a prescriptive basis to treat some forms of depression with varying degrees of efficacy during the early 60’s but was abandoned due to the rise in popularity of LSD as a drug of abuse.
    The effects, although I would need to refresh my memory are not limited to the serotonin metabolism at all but are more general in terms of neurotransmitter activity dependent upon the dosage and, of course the actual balance or imbalance being treated. In the early 60’s there was little or no research on the specific action on the system other than empirical observations by researchers of improvement vs. adverse or non-effects based upon signs and symptoms. Kind of like the popularity of ECT in the 60’s and 70’s as we began to improve the use of anesthetics, muscle relaxants, and included atropine while lowering the actual voltage and switched to unilateral vs. bilateral charge inductions thereby significantly reducing the damage done by the electrically induced grand mal seizures.
    It was really popular as there were few if any effective medication treatments for the poorly researched psychiatric conditions, the medications were not studied properly and adminstered in excessive dosages which did more harm than good, and the limits of the psychopharmacological repertior in most hospital and manufacturer’s formularies made it the choice of many MDs and Patients due to the problems inherent in effective medication management which reduced side effects and the frank mismanagement of prescriptive drugs which were prescribed based upon observation of set of symptoms and subjective reports of the patient in the absence of more accurate understandings of the neurophysiology involved in various emotional and cognitive pathologies.
    Quite simply, ECT effected global memory, but primarily effected short term memory and was desireable based upon such theories as the Kindling Theory and the subjective relief patients experienced when ECT was reasonably applied to cause them to FORGET their immediate past suffering and immediate past causes.
    This did not effectively assist in long term therapy issues, nor did it resolve the problems of eventual resumption of symptoms as long term memory began generating new short term memory of unresolved issues and/or past trauma.
    LSD-25 was reported to be very effective and a lifesaving medication for sufferers of conditions which caused near catatonic states as well as those mood disorders resulting in severe slowing of cognitive functions. It was not particularly effective for the emotional aspects of depression other than by secondary intent via improvement in the initiation of neurotransmitters activity at the ACTH and DOPAMINE levels, as well as the SEROTONIN SYSTEMS.
    RE-UPTAKE was not as well effected which lends itself to being able to transmitter specific target and regulate symptoms.
    LSD-25 or Psylociben for “CLUSTER HEADACHES” is irresponsible and completely unnecessary as molecular structures derived from similar alkaloids will improve the physiological function without the hallucinogenic and in most cases, unnecessary cognitive side effects.
    Newer phamacological manufacturing techniques and the current state of the art in our undestanding of neurophysiology have lended themselves to the development of far safer and custom target specific drugs which are far more effective based upon the needs of the individual patient.
    fMRI and PET scanning, in the most extreme treatment resistant cases of many types of mental illness or any other physiological processes for that matter, including hypertension, vascular deficiencies, endocrine disfunction, generalized pain or the complex neurotransmitter, and alpha or beta andrenergic processes of migraines or “Cluster Headaches”, can permit “CUSTOM” formulation of a specific individualized recipe which will permit optimum functioning for patients who are poorly responsive or non-responsive to standardized formulations of FDA approved Medications.
    There is no reason to use LSD-25 or psylociben to treat “CLUSTER HEADACHES”. However, past experience with that knowledge enabled the pharmaceutical industry to modify ergotamine alkaloid structures to clean them up and make them more target and symptom specific.

    • clusterman
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      As a long time SUFFERER of cluster headaches, i have zero respect for anyone in the medical field. After being treated with every drug in me medical book, i decided to try a lsd trip in desperation, And after suffering 6 yrs of hell i found it broke the cycle immediately!!!!!!!!!!I’m prepared always my cluster periods used to last 6 mths from feb to july every yr, the worst times awakening 2 hrs from falling asleep, and the vicious cycle continues with the same pattern times of clusters every day. My answer now!!!!!! Keep about 4 trips in the freezer, use them at the start of a cluster period, and bang gone till next yr! True! for anyone out there who knows what we go through, please give it a try it works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Pappy Rain
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I suffered cluster headaches from age 20 to age 58. i would start a cycle and have 6 or 8 attacks per day for up to 3 months. the last few years i started using emitrex 3 or 4 times a day and itwas very effective in stoping that headache but did nothing to break the cycle. then i was invited to attend a Navajo Peote cerimony about eight years ago and participated in the sacred cerimony. this was a one time experience and i have not had a headache since.


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