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Psilocybin Article


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I have been presented with an opportunity to write an article on psilocybin for a new magazine that is focusing on the medical uses of plants.

As I'm relatively new to this arena, and far from an expert, I thought I would post my latest draft of the article for some constructive comments from those of you who have been around a bit longer than me.

This may very well be the first in a series of articles, so I don't feel pressured to include all information about everything in this first one. That is of course assuming the magazine goes beyond one issue.

At the onset of the article, I wanted to make clear what a cluster attack was, and its severity. I hope that comes across well.


MG (Renée)


Samantha was having a bath, like she does every day. Relaxing in the hot water, nothing unusual, nothing out of the ordinary. Then, without warning, a heavy, steel crowbar was rammed deep into her left eyeball. It was cold, as only steel can get. So very cold - it burned. The steel shaft was pressed in deeper and deeper, all the time being twisted to the left and the right, gouging out her eye and shredding the optic nerve behind it. After a minute or two of this, the crowbar started prying, ever so slowly, in a downward direction and putting pressure on the top surface of the eye-socket. The pressure would increase, then ease off a bit, only to have more pressure applied a moment later. She could feel, in finite detail, the top half of her skull being ripped apart. A jagged line had formed across her forehead, and in agony as she was, she could visualise the bone, first cracking, then splitting wide open. A few minutes would pass and the crowbar would ease off just a little, and her skull would mend. Only to be torn apart again a gasp-of-a-breath later.

The 30 minutes that this ordeal lasted, seemed like hours. But then, it stopped. Just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. The pain eased to nothing in the span of about 30 seconds, leaving Samantha as much of a broken puddle of tears, as the bath water she was in.

I wish I could say Samantha’s experience was a one off. A rare occurrence. However, that would only be lying to you. No, she knew exactly what it was. She had been having these sorts of ‘headaches’ for over four years preceding this attack. Her cycle consisted of five or six attacks over the course of two weeks, and then a 2-3 week break before the next ‘cluster’ of headaches. Little did she know then, that things were about to get worse. Much worse.

Cluster Headaches are often described as the most severe pain known to mankind, or to medical science (depending on which article you happen to Google). And although Samantha is a fictitious name, the attack I described, and her condition is all too real.

Cluster Headaches (although as ‘headache’ is such an inadequate word to describe them, I shall refer to them as Cluster Attacks) are believed to originate in the Hypothalamus, and directly affect the Trigeminal Nerve. This Trigeminal Nerve is the largest in a group of nerves in and around the face. It leaves the brain via an array of holes in the skull, and is a paired nerve, in that there is one on either side of the head. Its main function is to provide sensation to the face and controls the muscles in chewing.

Cluster Attacks can last anywhere from 15 minutes, to 3 hours. Sometimes, breathing pure oxygen at the onset of an attack can abort it, or a self-administered injection of Imitrex . Many sufferers will also try a range of prescription drugs in an attempt to prevent attacks, such as Verapamil, Lithium and Topiramate. All of which have a range of challenging side-effects and/or potential health and mental risks. Forgetfulness, depression, weight gain, weight loss, dizziness and tiredness are just a few of the side-effects on a much longer list of possibilities.

Sufferers often find  that these drugs become ineffective in treating or preventing Cluster Attacks as the body adjusts to them over time. When the attack I described above happened, Samantha had been on Topiramate nearly a year, increasing her dosage every couple of months to keep it working. Eventually, she reached, then exceeded, the maximum effective dose for Cluster Headaches, and then her preventative stopped working altogether. By this time, she was experiencing 1-5 Cluster Attacks every 2-3 days.

The medical world seems happy to dish out man-made medicines for any of an array of conditions. And yet, very often by returning to mother nature, a better solution is found. Such is the discovery that many Cluster Attack sufferers have made.

Some sufferers are turning to a set of treatments that are proving to be surprising effective, and with very little side-affects. The primary ingredient of these treatments is Tryptamine. One source of Tryptamine is Psilocybin, the primary chemical found in Magic Mushrooms. Additionally, Tryptamine can be found in LSD and LSA, which is being extracted from the seeds of the Rivea Corymbosa flower.

Popular in the psychedelic age of the 60Â’s, many countries, such as the US and the UK have made growing and/or consuming Magic Mushrooms and taking LSD or LSA, illegal. Which has greatly hampered research into potential medical uses of Tryptamines. But, it didnÂ’t put a complete stop to it.

Recent articles have been published on how Psilocybin might benefit those with depression, and with considerably less side-effects than conventional medicines. Studies have been conducted recently in the UK with such an aim. Also, recent studies in the US with a non-hallucinogenic version of Psilocybin, are indicating possible treatment options for not only depression, but also obsessive compulsion disorder, alcoholism and addiction. (BBC News, ‘I took magic mushroom drug psilocybin in a clinical trial’, by Dr Michael Mosley, 6 Jan 2011)

For the Cluster Sufferer, the positive effects of even a very small dose of Psilocybin can be profound. Initially, one might have to take magic mushrooms once a week for a month or two in order  to break a cycle of clusters. But once the cycle is broken, a sufferer would normally only have to take the medication every 2-3 months to keep Cluster Attacks away forever.

Additionally, the dosage required to ‘bust’ a Cluster Attack cycle is much less than what someone would take if they were taking magic mushrooms for recreational purposes. Generally, a cluster sufferer would take half, or even less, than what is required to cause one to trip. In fact, cluster sufferers see tripping as a negative side-affect, and most I’ve spoken to don’t enjoy it, or look forward to it. Everyone’s goal, therefore, when taking psilocybin to stop clusters, is to find the smallest possible dose that will be beneficial without causing a significant trip.

Quite probably the biggest hurdle to these natural sources of Tryptamine is people’s reaction when someone says they are taking Magic Mushrooms for their Cluster Attacks. ‘Oh yeah, sure. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge,’ is often the response one can expect. This has perhaps been exasperated by the medical use of marijuana, and a perception that users will make up any condition to get some.

But of all the Cluster sufferers I have spoken with, taking an illegal drug is the last thing they want to do, and for many, a last, desperate resort, before suicide. Yes, Cluster Headaches are so bad they have acquired the nickname of ‘suicide headaches’ because of the high number of suicides attributed to them.

The hope, is that current and future experiments into the medical uses of natural sources for Tryptamines such as Psilocybin, LSD and LSA, will break down some of these negative misconceptions and provide a tangible relief to Cluster Headache sufferers.

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I can only think up 2 ideas for possible additions:

1) If there's away to mention Harvard Medical's involvement in the research of hallucinogens for CH, I figure that association can lend an extra instant helping of credibility (well for Americans anyway - if this is strictly a UK publication, not sure?)

2) The opening Samantha story really grabs the reader - if there's a way to close the article with a final thingy about Samantha, for me that would put a nice button on it. Of course Samantha is YOU, and since you haven't just yet had the extended complete remission success that luckier others have, I suppose it could be tricky....

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OH! Both excellent points. Thanks Jeebs.

This is a US Magazine, so linking it to the Harvard studies is an excellent idea, and maybe BOL too (are they the same thing?) Need to do a bit of research me thinks.

And, I was a little concerned about the ending. It doesn't really wrap things up, but closing off the story of Samantha (me) would do that nicely. And even if I'm not 100% PF, I am SO much better than before I busted.

I knew asking for comments was a good idea. Thanks again,


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You might add that it has been used recently for cancer patients to alleviate some of the fear and dread of death.

The article was put up here a month or so ago. I might be able to find it or perhaps that is the Harvard Study already referred to. Not sure.

Keep writing hon! :)


who is Southern, no slam intended by the 'hon' 8-)

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Hi Moxie!

Thanks for painting a mental picture so engagingly real & equally terrifying in the opening paragraphs of your article that it rivals with the shower scene in Psycho!....[insert, areek-areek creepy music here]

Ok, well maybe that's because I've played "Samantha" in my high school production, my college production, my Birth to Three fundraising production (lol, you get the picture!)

I'd like to see an ending where it sets the next article's intro of a Samantha who wants to help herself, but the onslaught of dealing with all the issues you've described (the pain, uneducated medical community & workplace, the word "headache" and the fact that the most promising treatment is classified as a schedule 1 drug) sends her into isolation.  It would be wonderful if the "series" finds "Samantha's" battle fronts as multi-layered, but through near impossible odds, including suicidal thoughts, she (and her fellow CH community) find strength of Herculean measure to "disassemble the propaganda, myths, untruths and brush-off" she's endured.

I'm a romantic....I love an epic nonfiction where the heroin prevails, even if she isn't cured!!!!


:)  Cindy  :)

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