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Psilocybin Is Strange Therapy for Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches cause excruciating pain. Even worse than that, these one-sided headaches return in unpredictable cycles (hence the name “cluster” headaches). Anticipation makes the pain even worse. Moreover, these cycles, once started, can be difficult to disrupt. No wonder some people are willing to entertain extreme therapies.

What Works for Cluster Headaches?

Q. I’ve had cluster headaches for 20 years. Out of everything I’ve tried, there are only three things that work.

To ABORT a headache, I inhale pure oxygen and without fail, it is gone in 5 to 10 minutes. It’s a true wonder drug!

Imitrex Nasal Inhaler also works, but it’s slower than oxygen and extremely expensive.

To PREVENT clusters of headaches, I take several modest doses a year of psilocybin in the form of mushroom tea. I have some minor psychedelic effects, and the next day I have a lasting sense of positive self-confidence. A 2006 study at Harvard showed significant remission of clusters in people using small doses of psilocybin.

I’ve taken psilocybin over 50 times in the past several years. I still have cluster headaches but they are very few, far less intense and easily stopped with oxygen. Other sufferers in my Facebook group have obtained total relief.

Managing the Pain of Cluster Headaches:

A. Cluster headaches produce excruciating pain so intense that the multiple attacks have been described as suicide headaches. That’s in part because it is impossible to function during a bout of repeated searing one-sided head pain.

Treating Headaches:

High-flow oxygen is a treatment of choice for cluster headaches. So are triptan-type nasal sprays (Robbins et al, Headache, July, 2016).

What About Psilocybin?

Psilocybin is a hallucinogen derived from mushrooms. The FDA considers it a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. That said, some studies suggest that psilocybin may be beneficial against these killer headaches (Sewell et al, Neurology, Jun. 27, 2006; Schindler et al, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Nov-Dec. 2015).

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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