Migraines and cluster headaches are more than just headaches. They aren’t even bad headaches. Severe headaches doesn’t come close to describing them. Existing over-the-counter and pharmaceutical drugs only provide temporary relief at best. This has led people to turn to Cluster Busters and psychedelic researchers at Johns Hopkins University with the question:
Do magic mushrooms help with migraines and cluster headaches?
When My Dad Was Given This Dangerous Drug to Treat a Migraine, I Knew I Had to Find a Better Solution
My dad was hospitalized for a kidney stone about a year ago. I’ve been told by women that passing a stone is worse pain than childbirth. My dad, who is afraid of even getting a needle, wasn’t going to fare so well.
While he was laying in his hospital bed waiting for the doctor, he was on an IV drip with morphine. Suddenly, things went from bad to worse, and it wasn’t because of his kidney stones.
A few times a year, Dad gets migraines but he also gets cluster headaches. If you haven’t heard of cluster headaches, count yourself in the fortunate 999/1,000 people who don’t know the pain of “suicinde headaches.”
The pain got excruciating rapidly. He started crying out and getting extremely restless, shaking with pain and feeling intense nausea.
“It feels like someone is jack-hammering through my eye and into my brain.” Dad said. I watched as he grimaced in pain. Dad tensed his whole body so he could get these few words out.
I pushed the emergency button and a nurse quickly came to his bedside. Dad described his symptoms. The nurse nodded her head. She agreed he was experiencing either a migraine or a cluster headache. He was already on morphine for his kidney stone pain and this wasn’t even taking the edge off his headache.
What happened next shocked me. Dad was given fentanyl.
The pain stopped, which of course I was thankful for. Still, my jaw hit the floor at the suggestion and my mouth was still hanging open for a good while after it was administered.
We have an opioid crisis in our country, in fact, globally. Fentanyl is an extremely addictive drug and it is killing people. Next thing I knew, Dad was handed a prescription for the stuff and told to get it filled if he ever needed it. W.T.F.
Fortunately he never took the prescription home with him and he has not looked to treat later migraines or cluster headaches with fentanyl in the year that has passed since then. However, where does this leave people who are suffering from this condition, experiencing pain that is unimaginable and invisible to society?
Triptans and steroids are commonly prescribed by doctors to help patients experiencing these painful episodes. Unfortunately they don’t always work, leaving sufferers desperately searching for relief. They also can’t stop recurrences of migraines or cluster headaches.
Given the addictive properties of the strongest drugs used to manage pain, trips to the ER are made even more terrifying. Choosing between sanity and the possibility of being treated with an addictive substance that is robbing people of their lives…
Not exactly reassuring.
After this experience, I began searching for alternative ways to treat migraines and cluster headaches. It didn’t take long to get my hands on a study from 2006 from Neurology called “Response of cluster headache to psilocybin and LSD” . It opened my eyes to what is possible.
The caveat: sufferers have to be willing to endure self experimentation since psilocybin containing magic mushrooms aren’t legal in Canada and aren’t widely studied on humans… yet.
The reality: the extent to which magic mushrooms help with migraines and cluster headaches is worthy of our attention. It brings up compelling reasons to become educated in this regard. The more we know, the more likely we are to bring about change to how these painful conditions are treated.
Thanks to my father’s experience, the desire to spread awareness and influence change has become personal to me. Because of the opioid crisis, I believe society and the healthcare system is ripe for alternatives to conventional treatment.
How Magic Mushrooms are Helping Migraine Sufferers Skip the Worst Part of their Headaches
Migraines are an extremely painful headache condition. They tend to be recurrent and for most people and include some sensory warning signs and challenges. Migraines often begin on the side of the head and commonly cause nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.
Like cluster headaches, migraines can happen fast and the symptoms usually last from hours to days. The can interfere greatly with day-to-day activities and are often responsible for missed work.
When people are in pain, they are often motivated to do extraordinary things.
Seven years ago I moved to chinook country, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Sudden changes in temperature and pressure seem to be a migraine trigger for me, and are a common environmental phenomenon. High, warm winds can blow through mid-winter, thawing months worth of snow in days, only for temperatures to drop to sub-zero levels a day or two later and bring a fresh, heavy snowfall.
For many people, these weather patterns are really hard on the head and they notice a correlation between these weather patterns and migraines.
My acupuncturist treated certain points in my ears to melt migraine pain away when I was suffering. I learned people were piercing this hard piece of cartilage so they would have a built-in way to stop migraine pain.
Next I researched daith piercings and had high hopes they would stop my migraines naturally. It wasn’t long before I was convinced. I booked an appointment and endured the two most painful piercings (one in each ear) I have ever experienced. Having pierced my tongue, navel, nose and my ear, I feel qualified to say that.
My point is, that is extreme. Putting two painful holes in my body to stop a painful, recurring condition isn’t for the faint of heart. It left me wondering… is there an easier way to treat migraines holistically?
Fast forward a few years… I now have a lot of personal, anecdotal experience with microdosing and have seen the abundance of testimonials people have shared about how it helps them cope with their migraines. It’s definitely a lot easier than getting a couple of holes punched in your head, I’ll tell you that.
The most compelling personal story I have read in support of microdosing mushrooms as an effective way to cope with the pain of migraines was in this article.
The author is at his friend Sean’s house when the tell-tale early warning signs of an oncoming migraine hit him and he receives his first-ever microdose of magic mushrooms in attempt to stop the pain. Here’s what happened:
After Sean gave me the micro-dose of magic mushrooms, my headache began to play out as expected. My liver had to first process the psilocybin, convert it to psilocin, and release a number of metabolites into my bloodstream; a process that usually takes 30 to 45 minutes. But after that time had passed, it felt like I had skipped the worst part of my headache and was coasting through the dull afterglow that marks the latter stage of my migraines. I also felt a little woozy – the feeling I knew the mushrooms were responsible for.
Chronic Sufferers Are Choosing LSD and Psilocybin For Migraines
It seemed Sean’s magic mushroom remedy worked. It didn’t stop the headache dead in its tracks, but it did mitigate the pain significantly and shorten the span of it. Now, had I been working at the time, the subtle psychoactive effects of the psilocybin may have been distracting, but with a full-blown migraine, no work would have been accomplished anyway.
It is clear that microdosing (at least at present) doesn’t offer a cure from the painful symptoms of migraines, but it is working for some people as a way to bypass the worst parts of the condition and reduce the severity, when it strikes.
Not all medicine works the same way for all people. The same goes for natural treatment. There are some clues here that likely contributed to the effectiveness of microdosing for the author…
- He Was Connected to how his Body Feels. The author knew what the onset of his migraines feels like. Had the symptoms progressed and the migraine pain advanced, he may not have experienced the same results. I have read personal experiences posted on the microdosing subreddit where people have received relief from migraines by microdosing during intense pain, using different methods. Some self-experimentation can be expected to see if microdosing is the right solution for you for migraines.
- Open to Alternative Medicine. The author was open to this non-typical and illegal modality of treatment for migraines. Some people experience a hefty degree of nervousness when trying treatments that are new to them. This is totally normal! Less stress on his mind and body could have contributed to a better chance at effective treatment.
To really define exactly how microdosing can help with migraine pain, further research is needed. Fortunately there are many people who are writing about their experiences and sharing them in blogs and the microdosing subreddit. For now, microdosing magic mushrooms to help with migraine pain requires some patience and self-experimentation for willing participants!
What You Need to Know About Treating Cluster Headaches with Magic Mushrooms
People who suffer from cluster headaches know there is a special place in Hell for them. Cluster headaches are more common in men than women (women experience more migraines). They occur in cycles (clusters), hence their name, which can last weeks, even months, followed by remission periods.
The pain is excruciating and often begins behind one eye while the sufferer is sleeping. REM sleep can trigger cluster headaches. They are so debilitating, people who frequently endure them sometimes develop a fear of falling asleep! Because if their repetitive nature, people who go through cluster headaches often feel powerless: they know the next day they are probably going to go through it again.
In 2006, a human study in the journal “Neurology” called “Response of cluster headache to psilocybin and LSD” involved 53 people who suffer from cluster headaches.
What they found was fascinating and extremely hopeful.
More than half of the subjects interviewed reported that one dose of psychedelics caused their cluster headaches to stop, permanently. About 25% of the participants said magic mushrooms stopped their headache mid-attack!
While the study group is relatively small, it isn’t small enough that these results don’t catch our attention. It is important to be completely clear that these participants were not microdosing psilocybin: they were taking larger psychedelic doses.
Researchers believe cluster headaches start in the region of the brain called the hypothalamus. They hypothalamus is responsible for our circadian clock, which regulates our cycles of wakefulness and rest. They are debilitating to the extent that some people can’t function normally in society.
One thing that draws us to consider microdosing as a potentially effective treatment for cluster headaches is the way microdosing interacts with specific regions of the brain. We know, for example, that microdosing reduces blood flow to the amygdala, responsible for the default mode network (the region of the brain that causes us to use the same patterns of thought and problem solving methods the same way, repeatedly, resulting in “default” ways of thinking).
Could microdosing slow blood flow to the hypothalamus and help cluster heads break the cycle of this painful condition?
Microdosing psilocybin does in fact reduce blood flow to the hypothalamus. I predict microdosing could be a means to avoid the symptoms of cluster headaches by reducing stimulation of the hypothalamus.
That said, we at Neuro Growth aren’t doctors and we certainly aren’t neurologists. Any attempts at treatment for cluster headaches by microdosing mushrooms would be completely in the realm of self-experimentation.
How Do You Know if Microdosing Will Help Your Migraines and Cluster Headaches? What Else Can Help?
Do magic mushrooms help with migraines for everyone? Of course not.
Is microdosing going to work to treat your migraines or cluster headaches? Maybe.
The only way to know for sure is to give it a try, if you think it could be right for you.
For the vast majority of people, taking a small microdose of 100-200 mg of psilocybin is a safe self-experiment to take. However, there are some people who we know aren’t good candidates for microdosing psilocybin:
- People who are taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. The drugs used to treat these conditions stimulate the serotonin receptors in the brain. Microdosing magic mushrooms does as well, so your receptors may already be “occupied” and the psilocybin and psilocin may not be able to squeeze their way into these receptor sites to work their “magic.”
- Those who experience psychosis. If you have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other forms of psychosis, microdosing magic mushrooms could make your mental health symptoms worse.
There are a lot of ideas on how you can treat migraines and cluster headaches naturally. Ultimately, you may have to try a few things to achieve success, so here are a few suggestions that would compliment microdosing or you could try if microdosing isn’t a good fit for you:
- Eat magnesium rich foods like avocados, green vegetables, nuts and legumes.
- Smell lavender oil for 15 minutes or try making a lavender tea by steeping lavender leaves in hot water for 8-10 minutes before sipping.
- Get more sleep. Aim for 7 or more hours a night.
- Apply a hot or cold compress to the neck or head. A hot compress will increase circulation while a cold one will reduce inflammation.
- Focus on eating anti-inflammatory foods. We love medicinal mushroom like reishi and chaga with a little lion’s mane powder stirred into elixirs like this one! (If you order lion’s mane from our friends at New Earth Organics from the link provided, please send us a message through our contact form below and we will send you a promo code for a sweet discount!)
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water.
Healing the body naturally is a process of self-advocacy. Ultimately, you decide what your best treatment plan is. It can be an empowering and incredible journey. I recommend always setting an intention to put you in a heightened state of physical awareness and to increase your connection to the process of healing your body holistically.
In the end, it’s about what works best for you and why you are doing it. For me, microdosing has opened my eyes to possibilities and what it might be like to live in a world with less headaches. Do magic mushrooms help with migraines? There is only one way to find out.