Cluster Headache

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Purge, PLEASE READ  4 09/19 06:19pm Underground_Shaman

By Underground_Shaman (Shaman) on Sunday, September 02, 2001 - 06:28 pm:

The subject of using 5-HT analog drugs to treat vascular headache was introduced to us by a CH sufferer back at the old site. This area of inquiry fascinated me and I immediately went to find out what I could. Guess what: There is no scientific/medical literature on this topic at all. I see that there are other CH sufferers out there in myco-land (B-b), but I was wondering how many have found this site and are using it to make medicine.
If there is sufficient interest, I would like (with Vitti's blessing, of course) to begin discussion of CH issues. (In real life I am a scientist with the skill and resources to examine the relevant physiopharmacological issues at play.) My personal interests are the basic biology of these drugs, but the results are undeniable and unmistakable. These drugs work for treatment of CH!

Whew! All that to say I hope that there are CH sufferers who have been able to ameliorate their pain by using this natural medicinal fungus. I would love to hear success stories.

Peace and bliss!

By monkeyod (Monkeyod) on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 03:28 pm:

Does it surprise you that there are no medical studies done with shrooms? We all know that shrooms are evil and have no medical benefits whatsoever. :) Our government is just protecting us from ourselves. I read the other day that the FDA/DEA are allowing the first new study of shrooms in 25 years here in the very nice of them.

I did read a very interesting article in Discover (July 2001) about how serotonin-enhancnig drugs (Prozac...etc) rewires ones brain. The article discuses how serotonin promotes neurogenesis (creation of new brain cells) and how this helps people with depression.

I found this very interesting due to shroom cause your brain to release massive amounts of serotonin (plus a few other brain chems). It just makes me wonder if this (serotonin-neurogenesis) is not the cause of ones altered thinking (for the better) after one has done shrooms quite a few times.

What this has to do with cluster headaches I don't know. I don't get them (thank god) and I couldn't imagine having to live with them. Are they caused by a chemical imbalance or is it more of a physical cause?

Well, I hope your research goes well, best of luck to you beating those headaches.


By Underground_Shaman (Shaman) on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 06:34 pm:

I too saw that Discover article, very interesting and well written for the lay audience.

Gladly, I too do not suffer from CH.

No, it does not surprise me that the there are no medical studies out there. There are still relatively few for cannabis. However, curanderos have been using shrooms to treat vascular headache for centuries. The anecdotal evidence still far outweighs the scientific evidence, but for many anecdotes are enough.

The literature on psilocybin and 5-HT release is sketchy (possibly more in LSD field). It is best to think of psilocybin as an agonist for the 5-HT receptor, subtype 2B. However, if you do have scientific literature on psilocybin influence on 5-HT release, I would like the citations.

As for the etiology of CH, the interesting thing is that we don't really know what happens (as with a lot of things in science). It is thought that there may be an imbalance in the serotonin regulation of vascular tone, which goes "haywire" causing vascular changes, resulting in excruciating headache. It is currently thought that these drugs serve to "re-set" the system, bringing back into balance an imbalanced physiochemistry. It is also interesting to note that excessive dosage/use can actually induce vascular headache. Bottom line: we don't really know how 5-HT analog drugs serve to prevent/stop vascular headache.

By monkeyod (Monkeyod) on Wednesday, September 05, 2001 - 12:07 am:

Sounds like they are akin to ice cream headaches.I couldn't imagine just having those out of the blue. Man, for not having any pain receptors your brain sure can hurt!

I let a friend read the Discover article due to his being on something simular to Prozac. He then told me of another article (in the 'New Yorker' I belive) about Neurogenesis. He said that it is not proven (in humans) that Neurogenesis takes place. And that the same person was quoted in that article (Neuroscientist Elizabeth Gould).

He even talked to his Physiatrist about taking shrooms. He said no problems...he one cool MD. We (my buddy and I) go to a strip bar every Wednesday and his Physiatrist is always there too! Now that's what I call therapy. Only if we can get his health plan to pick up the tab for the table dances.

I'll keep my eyes peeled for anything on CH and Psilocybin.

Do you have any articles that show what happens in the brain when psilocybin is introduced? I'd love to read up on that.

I would guess that you have most of these links but here are some:

By Purge (Purge) on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 01:20 am:

My wife suffers from cluster headaches. A day without a headache is a blessing for her, and a rare one. Exactly one week ago she did the first half gram ever harvested by us. (We hadn't tripped in a few years, she's gotten the headaches for about a year.) She did the half gram because of the reports of low doses being effective. Not only has She not had a headache since, but reports feeling "clearer", with no pressure, which was present even on days when she didn't have any pain. Needless to say We are true believers. We were looking forward to having our first homegrown trip this weekend, but we have to leave town, so it'll be another week. We'll let you know how the shroom free week goes.

By monkeyod (Monkeyod) on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 02:56 am:


That's great about your wife, not the CH's but the fact the the shrooms seem to help.

I wonder if the constant taking of .5 g a day will work for a extended period. I just don't know if you build up a resistance to them at that level.

Best of luck to both you guys.

By Purge (Purge) on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 12:54 pm:

from what i've read occasional doses seem to do the trick, and overdoing it can actually cause more headaches. she woke up this morning with still no pain, so it appears that the effects last a while (up to a year from one subrecreational dose in some reports) so i think taking .5 grams daily would be a waste of good shrooms. we thought about waiting to see how long the effects actually last with no further ingestion, which is probably what responsible people would do, but f**k that, we've got 2 tickets to never never land just waiting for us to get home next week. Hopefully a few grams every few weeks will fall into the safe area between prevention and overuse. Unfortunately We live in America, the land of banning useful study of substances for no apparent reason, other than people like to control others and impose their views on them, so we kinda have to wing it and hopefully find balance ourselves without crossing the line and ending up where we started. with an uncle like sam our family is seriously disfunctional.

By monkeyod (Monkeyod) on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 02:00 pm:

I don't know why I was thinking a daily dose, must be that it's been beaten into me by the western medical machine. Doh. Good thing that these guys are banned and have no medical useage.

We'll enjoy your trip to never nerver land and if you see Peter tell him I said 'Hi' and that I'll trade him a spore print for some pixie dust (that's still legal, right?)

By Lichen (Lichen) on Saturday, September 08, 2001 - 03:51 am:

that's the most interesting post I have read here in a long time. Quite intriguing. I, too, would be most interested in the posting of information on what happens when you introduce psilocybin into the brain, underground shaman...I didn't know we had a real scientist in our midst!

By Lichen (Lichen) on Saturday, September 08, 2001 - 05:35 am:

After an hour's thought, I realized that this is precisely the direction I would like to see this board take. Underground Shaman, if I may risk flattering you, (please excuse me) your claim to insight is backed by clear lucid terminology and solid logic. Your subject matter is intriguing and informative. Interaction has been illuminating. Your thoughts bring out the interest in everyone from the scientific to the philosophical abstract, or promises to.

Mushrooms have a profound effect upon the human psyche, do they not? We all can see that. But. Many of us are curious about why mushrooms do what they do to us; How is it that they can seem so ... tailored? So designed?
I have a keen intellect and am most satisfied when the nature of the conversation verges upon shall I say, ...the infinite, if I should use such an eccentric term?
This thread comes closer to constructive, intriguing subject matter than most any do. I can only try to add at least something positive to it: encouragement. We need this sort of thing, and as mushroom heads, we all know it in our bones, in our souls.
Please, all you familiar with the Nook I have come to know and love, let the thinking person within you that the Mushroom awakens at least, admit, or confess, that this is true of you, too. It has to be true, or you wouldn't even be here. God knows I have tried to introduce this kind of thinking in my fellows here, but I am afraid I am really a stupid child, unable to grasp my dream, unable to direct the flow. I am like Napoleon in Tolstoy's dubious theory of war... I cannot influence anything because the tides of time and history are beyond my control.

I love to hear my betters speak of higher things...

I found the Nook with joy. I found it to be peopled by a congenial race. It has become for me much more than I would have thought possible; most message boards don't amount to jack shit.

So I encourage in all Nookians (especially the core) a curiosity, of course, but more so a freehand in grasping hold of the elevated, the kind of thought that proves that we are truly a higher species.

Hey, Vitti, how's my soapbox? (please kick it out from under me for God's sake)

But seriously, folks, at the risk of enforcing the perception of my eccentricity by my peers, am I not on to something here? Am I out of my mind?

By Vitticeps (Admin) on Saturday, September 08, 2001 - 03:37 pm:

I think your soapbox may be a little too sturdy for that lichen. :)

By monkeyod (Monkeyod) on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 12:35 am:

That's no's a giant shroom Lichen is standing on!

I'll give you a 'Haarumph' on your speech there Lichen. I'd love to hear more about peoples interaction with the shrooms and how they've changed the way they see the world. I'm not talking about 'Trip Reports', but how (if at all) shrooms have changed the way you think and/or act...spiritually, politically, physically or any other ways.

By Lichen (Lichen) on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 02:39 am:

lol, it's all too funny! Actually I like to see that kind of stuff, tooo :0)

By Kaijan (Kaijan) on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 03:34 am:

By littlebro (Littlebro) on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 06:18 am:

this is the greatest series of posts i have ever encountered online.

By monkeyod (Monkeyod) on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 - 05:49 am:

Just found this...not shrooms but on target otherwise!

Here's a quote of the most interesting part (well it all is interesting to me)...

"In 1993, McKenna finally got a chance to launch another study among his friends at the UDV church in Brazil. The study subjects, all men, had been regular ayahuasca users for at least 10 years, drinking it at church ceremonies as often as twice a month. When the researchers interviewed them, they kept hearing common testimonies of men wracked by alcoholism and violent behavior who had turned their lives around, thanks both to the UDV and to ayahuasca. In his study, McKenna was trying to measure what a dose of the tea was doing to them biologically, in the short term. But in the back of his mind were those lucid and wiry Peruvian sorcerers. What about long-term ayahuasca use? Did it leave a physical marker that the scientists could trace?

They were surprised to find some evidence that it did. The ayahuasca users had raised levels of a particular type of serotonin receptor in their blood platelets. That�s a fairly reliable indicator of higher receptor levels in the brain, which is what the researchers ultimately wanted to know. But they didn�t have the sophisticated equipment needed to do these brain tests. They also had no idea whether the high receptor count was a good thing or a bad thing. But it was the sort of marker they had hoped to find.

The science gets complicated here. Suffice it to say that those serotonin receptors in the brain are crucial to our moods and the target of various antidepressants like Prozac. What�s more, other researchers have noted a link between reduced serotonin-receptor counts and the sort of violent and addictive behavior those UDV members had somehow managed to put behind them."

By monkeyod (Monkeyod) on Monday, September 17, 2001 - 12:24 am:

Here's a nice chapter on what shrooms are doing to you chemically

By Pink Shark Mark (Pinksharkmark) on Monday, September 17, 2001 - 08:03 am:

It was probably me you are thinking of who posted at the old site re: LSD and psilocybin and cluster headaches. Can't think who else it would be.

A few comments:

There HAVE been studies done with sub-hallucinogenic doses (25 micrograms) of LSD and migraineurs, in the Sixties in California. I have no idea whether or not these studies ever made it onto the web. I certainly haven't been able to find them online, but I remember reading an abstract from at least one study back in the early Seventies at a university library. I have also seen posts at a cluster headache message board from someone who actually participated in one of those studies.

The best site for finding posts regarding this therapy is the message board at

There have been success stories from several dozen clusterheads so far, and the number of clusterheads trying it is increasing rapidly. Most of them have been trying mushrooms rather than LSD. Both psilocybin and LSD seem to be equally effective. The few reported failures are from those who have been taking other medications at the same time. We know for sure that there are some drugs that will block the effects of hallucinogens (ergot-based compounds and anti-psychotic meds such as Thorazine) but because of a lack of formal studies we don't know ALL of them. I suspect that SSRI meds will block the effects as well. In fact, there is a strong possibility that ANY med that targets serotonin activity will have an effect on hallucinogen efficacy. Some may increase that efficacy, some may block it partially or completely.

The problem is that for many clusterheads these powerful meds are the only way they can get even PARTIAL relief of their agony, so they are reluctant to "detox" from them in order to give the hallucinogen its best chance at working. It's kind of a "Catch 22" situation. We are trying to figure out (on our own, of course) exactly WHICH meds it is possible to take and still have psilocybin or LSD do its thing. It will be a lengthy process.

So far, we have yet to receive a single report of a hallucinogen CAUSING a new cycle of headaches to begin, although in some cases the headaches actually get more severe (hard to believe it is possible) for a day or two immediately following a dose. The headaches then decrease in severity and frequency over the next few days.

Most episodic sufferers (those who normally get clusters of two or three months at a stretch, followed by extended natural remission periods) need just a single, sub-hallucinogenic dose (equivalent to a level 1, or at most a level 2 trip) to stop the cycle completely and remain completely painfree for up to a year... sometimes even longer. Some sufferers require a second, stronger dose a few days later to stop the cycle. In rare cases, a third dose is required. I know of no one who required a fourth dose.

In the case of chronic sufferers (those who NEVER get natural remissions, but have a never-ending "cycle") we have seen that a stronger initial dose (level 2 or sometimes even level 3) gives a better success rate. Chronic sufferers are also much more likely to need a second or even third dose. The remission period for chronics is also shorter. I don't believe I have seen a report from any chronic who gets much more than about six months remission from hallucinogens, and a few have received remissions of only two weeks or so.

There is one clusterhead that some of you may know that actually got into magic mushrooms BECAUSE of his headaches... a Canadian spore supplier whose screen name is 3mshrooms. He has been keeping his headaches at bay with mushrooms for almost two decades now. His sister's boyfriend was a migraineur who went on a pilgrimage to Mexico, found that mushrooms cured his migraines, and passed the info on to 3mshrooms.

3m doses far more frequently than any of our other test cases, and he says that the mushrooms have not yet lost their ability to keep away the headaches, but most clusterheads are urging caution in doing it too often. Part of our caution comes from the sad fact that nearly all of us have had instances of medications that used to work suddenly losing their effectiveness. This has happened to me with both Beta Blocker drugs and Calcium Channel Blocker drugs. Each of them worked for a cycle or two, then stopped working. It seems that The Beast (as many of us call the disease) has an almost uncanny ability to adapt to whatever medication hurts him the most.

For this reason we feel that the best course of action is to dose only when absolutely required... i.e. at the very first warning signs of an impending cycle. This way there is less chance of The Beast getting used to this new weapon. Admittedly, we may be overcautious here, particularly since hallucinogens require only a single dose at extremely widely-spaced intervals while all other meds must be taken daily (or several times a day) for months at a time, but there is just not enough data yet to be able to know for sure what the ideal dosing regimen for hallucinogens may be.

Purge, it would be very helpful to us if you or your wife would post her experience at

No need to register, no need to use your real name, but every writeup we can get adds to the data and makes it easier to one day attract serious researchers. Our dream is to get a clinical study done on this therapy.

Several folks from have collaborated on a website that tries to put all the facts in one place. It is a work in progress, but it is worth looking at for all who find this area of mushroom use interesting.

There is a section which includes posts from people who have tried this therapy. Unfortunately, that section has not been updated since May of this year, and there have been MANY more success stories posted at since then, but it makes for some fascinating reading nonetheless.

There are obviously many smart folks here at the Nook, and we welcome any suggestions or info that you may have to offer, particularly in the area of drugs that tend to block the effects of psilocybin or LSD. My e-mail address is in my profile. I answer several e-mails every day from clusterheads seeking advice on home cultivation, dosing, medication interaction, etc., so I certainly don't mind answering questions from interested Nookians, or passing on tips to my fellow clusterheads. Please do me the favor of checking the site I linked above before asking questions, though, just in order to save me having to cut and paste.

A final thought: psilocybin and psilocin are classed as "Schedule 1 controlled substances". Part of the definition reads "... a substance for which there is no currently accepted medical use...".

My dream as a clusterhead is to eventually get the "modern" medical establishment to recognize that there IS in fact a medical use for psilocybin. As Shaman correctly points out, native-american curanderos have known about this treatment for centuries. Unfortunately, curanderos are not real big on peer-reviewed, double-blind clinical studies, so there is a lot of work yet to be done. I will gladly accept all the help I can find.


p.s. If the links are not "clickable", my apologies. I am a complete ignoramus when it comes to html formatting.

By Underground_Shaman (Shaman) on Monday, September 17, 2001 - 02:15 pm:

Cool to see you here. Actually, when I first came across this issue, I went to the CH web site and saw that your name was all over the place. I like that you are willing to help other clusterheads with advice that some would consider to be illegal/immoral. I'm so glad that so many suffers have been able to find relief. I am with you that a full study needs to be done. Nevertheless, it is clear that many are finding a way to beat CH. If you could find those citations on CH studies from the 70s I would love to see them. Try pubmed at the national library of medicine. They have a searachable database.

Lets keep in touch. I think there is great potential for both the basic science and clinical application of 5-HT analog drugs to CH.


By Pink Shark Mark (Pinksharkmark) on Monday, September 17, 2001 - 08:58 pm:

I have an advantage in that I can speak openly about the use of psilocybes. I live in the Dominican Republic, where there are no laws against possession or use of them. As a matter of fact, the traditional herbal healers here (curanderos) routinely use a tea made from the local psilocybes to treat "la migrana". Since I am in no legal jeopardy, I can therefore afford to be more outspoken than many of my fellow clusterheads, with the exception of several Dutch clusterheads who can just walk to the nearest "paddo shop" and buy mushrooms whenever it is necessary.

Do you have a URL for pubmed? I would love to review those papers I referred to earlier... it has been almost two decades since I read them, and I have a hard time recalling the details. I do remember that the studies were done on migraineurs rather than clusterheads, but that is not surprising, since cluster headaches are routinely misdiagnosed even today. In the sixties misdiagnoses were undoubtedly even more common. I also remember that the success rate for eliminating migraines was phenomenally high. This came as no surprise to anyone, because LSD is structurally very close to other ergot-based medications that have been routinely used for treatment of migraines and cluster headaches for decades -- compounds such as ergotamine tartrate, ergotamine citrate, di-hydroergotamine 45 (DHE) and methysergide (Sansert).

One of the new "miracle compounds" in the treatment of vascular headaches, sumatriptan (Imitrex) is basically sulfonated DMT. Psilocybin is basically phosphorylated DMT.

Despite there similarities in chemical structure, there is a HUGE difference between Imitrex and the ergot-based compounds on one hand, and LSD and psilocybin on the other hand. Imitrex or ergotamine will stop a SINGLE headache. Once the compound has been eliminated from the body, the next headache arrives on schedule. But the hallucinogens will abort a COMPLETE headache cycle, leaving the patient painfree for months after the compounds have left the body. Obviously there is some additional mechanism at work in the case of hallucinogens that induces a long-lasting alteration in the brain's chemical makeup.

I'd like to see this thread kept alive here. Since it seems that it is not possible yet to view user profiles and obtain e-mail addresses easily, I will post mine here.

[email protected]

By Black Star (Mr_Bug) on Monday, October 08, 2001 - 07:10 pm:

Wow, this is incredible info! So, are cluster headaches and migraines the same thing?

My wife occasionally gets migraines. We've been together for eight years and she used to get them fairly frequently (well, about four times a year). She now almost never gets them. Could that be becuase we've been shrooming together regularly for the past four years? Do you think its the psilocybin or the seratonin? Would Prozac or Zoloft have the same effect? For that matter, what about Ecstasy?

Next time my wife gets a migraine headache, I'm giving her two mushroom gel caps. Thanks a lot everyone. Imagine how much money a drug company would make if they could market a drug that actually eradicates migraines!

Black Star

By Pink Shark Mark (Pinksharkmark) on Wednesday, October 17, 2001 - 12:19 am:

Yes, it is very likely that the reason she seldom gets migraines these days is because she is dosing herself with psilocin fairly regularly.

No, cluster headaches and migraines are not the same thing, but the root cause of each may be the same. Both are accompanied by a "serotonin storm"... the serotonin levels in the brain fluctuate wildly. In the case of migraines, it starts as an increase in serotonin levels, sweeping from the back of the brain to the front... almost a serotonin tidal wave.

Psilocin seems to not only normalize the serotonin levels while it is in the brain, but for months afterwards.

Prozac and Zoloft work sometimes for some migraineurs, because both of them temporarily interfere with the serotonin mechanism, but only for as long as they are in the bloodstream. The same seems to be the case with MDMA. MDMA cause an immediate and massive "dump" of serotonin. This is why MDMA causes such a strong emotional reaction in users.

For someone who only gets migraines 4 times a year, this temporary disruption of normal serotonin function is enough... by the time the drug wears off, the migraine is done, and the next one is months down the road. But for a chronic migraineur or a clusterhead, the longterm benefits of LSD or psilocin is the key. No need to medicate daily with a cocktail of toxic chemicals... just get a bit of a buzz two or three times a year.


By Underground_Shaman (Shaman) on Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 05:52 pm:

I disagree slightly here. Although there are a few similarities in serotonin's role in migrain and CH, there are more differences in the fundamental etiologies of these afflictions. There is quite a literature on both already.

More importantly, however, is the report that some migraneurs have been able to ameliorate their pain with LSD/psilocybin. It remains to be seen if these effects are due to similar or different cellular/physiological mechanisms. To the extent that vascular tone is implicated in both, I believe there is room for overlapping mechanisms. Yet, these are issues that remain unexplored.