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a potential new option

les genser

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Thanks for the explanation!

I read the entire thread, although I should read it again while googling/translating some words to fully understand it.

Anyway, since the tincture shouldn't be mixed with vera I'll stick with it for this cycle and try out the licorice off-cycle after detoxing, just to see what happens. Then I'll give it a shot next cycle.

By the way, do you think it could be combined with the D3 treatment, perhaps if it doesn't prevent the attacks completely?

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Recap Update:

I was 6 weeks into my cycle and using verapamil/imitrex, but it just wasn't as effective as the last 2 cycles.  Took the licorice root as advised and cut out the V completely.  (13 days now?)  Have used imitrex twice, since stopping V and starting licorice. 

There has been noticeable change and success, but as I said I'm on the downhill side of this cycle.  But be clear it still ain't over. 

From my last update, I started the celebration a bit early.  Saturday the 26th was a 12 hour K2 or lingering brain/skull bruise from a K5 wake up call.  (That was my last Imitrex.  no plans to purchase any more at this time)  A couple more pain free days then this shadow/K1.7 for a few hours twice a day.  Today is PF again, so far. 

I cut back on the Verapamil for a few days before starting licorice on a Friday.  No more V, 3 shots of Licorice per day since, and plan to continue until cycle ends or PF days increase beyond 2.  Then cut back to 2 delicious licorice shakes a day.  Then discontinue use until next cycle in a couple of years.  Or occaisional use of what's left over.

Plan of attack next cycle:  Mushrooms, licorice and of course the oxygen plan as described by CH Father.  As a lucky, long remission episodic, I haven't any experience with side effects probably due to low and infrequnt doses.  If the V had done what it had done for me in the past I wouldn't be in this discussion.  I'd be grumpy, slightly constipated, armed with imitrex waitng for this cycle to end.  The short term risk reward with meds changed for me with this cycle. 

How about a testimomial?

Hi there.  I suffer from episodic CH.  Before I discovered Natures Path, Pure Licorice Extract Tincture, I was constipated and bunged up from pharmaceuticals prescribed to me by my doctor and the Monsanto corporation.   I felt hopeless and trapped, and skepitcal of Fox News.  Now after taking licorice Root as prescribed, my mood has changed.   Ha, ha, ha.   I now enjoy regular bowel movements again and simply change the TV channel to something less offensive...  Thank you Natures Path Pure Licorce Root Extract Tincture! 

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Arcan: I am not really familiar with the D3 therapy so I can't really say, but I will look into it. I think if you start the tincture when your next cycle starts (we can always hope it won't) you will not have to resort to anything else. Your linguistic skills are excellent, by the way, and I bet you speak fluent German and French as well. I speak English and fluent Hillbilly. We Americans tend to be provincial.

For my friend up in Vansterdam: Its not too often I get to laugh at posts on this forum, so thank you. I'm happy for you that you are seemingly on the downslope, and I hope your long remission is very long indeed. "Less offensive" than Fox News probably includes just about everything on TV, with the possible exceptions being Jersey Shore and that Redneck wedding show, and maybe {self editor's note: I started listing things and realized that at least 90% of TV programs are more or less completely offensive one way or another, and I felt myself getting stupider just thinking about them, so I stopped before I blew a head pipe}. I will, at least in spirit, toast your remission with a Beaver Buzz.

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Les, the basics of the D3 therapy are 10,000 international units of D3/day, 2000-4000 mg of Omega3 fish oil/day, and two calcium citrate tablets formulated with D3, magnesium, and zinc/day.  It seems generally agreed as people feel their way through it that (a) the D3 is the essential component, and (B) people will find somewhat different dosages more suitable, based on experience. 

As I read it, I think the 10Kish  is recommended during cycle and 5Kish is recommended for maintenance.

It's a long and convoluted thread, which can be found here: http://www.clusterheadaches.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1291969416/0

Your insight would be much appreciated. 

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Quick anecdotal update on my licorice experiment. . .Today is the end of three weeks taking the 4x tincture 3 times a day, and I'm cutting back to twice a day for a week, then once a day.

It's been hit-and-miss. . .I've gone for 3-day periods totally pain-free, followed by a day of 3-4 major hits. However, in this three-week period, I've only been hit once at night. They have been relegated to daytime hits, which are easier to feel coming on, and I can take the egde off with an energy shot pretty quickly.

I went through all of last weekend totally pain-free, then I've had pretty serious hits on Monday night, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday morning. If the pattern holds, I should be getting hit right. . .about. . .now.

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Thanks for the info CH Dad, I'll look into it later. Have to go this AM but I have questions for LT2:

1. When you say major hits could you be more specific as to character, intensity, where you feel them originating, how easy they are to get rid of?

This would be very useful to me. Thanks.

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Sure thing, Les. The ones I've been getting are pretty typical of my usual. . .

I get very little warning, except a little tingling in my sinuses on the right side, then POW. It's all orbital/temporal, I'll call it an 8 on a scale of 10. . .it's debilitating, but not quite to the point where I'm rolling around on the floor. If I let it run its course, it will last about an hour. I've had decent success with energy shots (as long as they have at least 1000mg of taurine), so I keep a case of them on hand. If I chug one quickly, I can cut it down to about 20 minutes.

When I first started on the licorice, the frequency definitely dropped. Then the schedule became erratic, I wasn't getting my usual afternoon hits, and 3am hits, they were just random. Since then, it's been three days off, a couple days on, but rarely more than one hit per day. And the real odd part: nothing at night. I haven't been awakened by one of these things in. . .damn. . .three weeks, I guess.

Now, I haven't yet determined if I'm truly a chronic or an episodic in a long cycle (or with very short off-cycles). This mess started for me about 14 months ago. . .it took a good six months to figure out what it was, of course. Since then, I've had short breaks. . .one somewhat longer break following 9 days of prednisone, but never again.

I will say this, I look forward to reading your posts. I share your views toward the medical establishment in general, and the pharmaceutical industry specifically, so the cure I find for this will be one of my own prescription, so to speak!

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Thank you. If I understand you correctly, you are of the opinion that the frequency of your hits has lowered, especially at night, but the character of the attacks you do get are the same as they have been previously?

If you can tell, are the current attacks any easier to abort or the same as they have always been?

At least you seem better off at night. They were the worst. I used to be afraid to go to bed; I would stay up hoping to avoid them, but two hours after going to sleep, bang.

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Thanks Les. . .yes, that is pretty accurate. They are much less frequent, yet less predictable. I would have to say that the character of them has changed a bit, too. They seem to "pulsate" sometimes, if that makes sense. Instead of an hour of straight k8 pain, it'll die down for 5 minutes, then come back, then die down a bit.

The only thing I've ever used to abort has been the energy shots, and they do seem easier to abort now, although I have been making an effort to catch them sooner and I have shots stashed everywhere.

I hear ya' about the night-time hits. Horrible. But three weeks without them has been nice. At night, I add the skullcap to the licorice. There may be something to the combination beyond just the calming effect?

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OK; I've got a suggestion but first a short answer to the question "but Les... why do you keep pushing the Skullcap?"

Well, I'm glad you asked. Skullcap was first used as a folk remedy for rabies in the 19th century ( it truly does have excellent anti-spasmodic properties). It didn't cure rabies,of course, but the interest generated led to discovery of its real properties. Skullcap is a mint, and like many mints it is classed as a nervine. To quote herbalist and author Michael Moore (no not him) "it is a sure treatment for almost any nervous system malfunction of a mild or chronic nature, from insomnia to fear to nervous or sick headaches, and as a basic palliative-restorative when pasturing out from stress."

You can see what attracted me to it. It has a mild sedating effect and eases stress-based muscle tension and spasm. It is, for all these reasons, also very useful in treating addictions of all kinds. And, it does all this with virtually no downside.

I believe the complementarity of these two herbs for cluster is important. When I take one, I take the other.

(By the way, this combination is my treatment of choice for the emotional and nervous problems associated with PMS. Again, highly effective, inexpensive, safe and side-effect free. And organic.)

Which leads me to my suggestion:

Take them both together, all the time. ("Sedative" in the pharmaceutical sense is a bad word, but the skullcap calms and reinforces. Have no fear of passing out behind the wheel, it absolutely does not induce drowsiness).

I truly don't mean to be using you as my science fair project, but you are a good observer and I would be very interested to see if anything changes. It can't hurt.

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No, no. . .by all means, Les. . .I am more than happy to help in any way I can. I will definitely add the skullcap to my morning dose as well as my evening dose. In a little over a week, I plan to go down to one dose of licorice (and skullcap) per day.

As for recent progress, I went pain-free from Wednesday until about 10pm on Saturday night. I got hit pretty hard on Saturday, although it didn't get too intense (maybe a 6, tops) it lasted what seemed like forever. Probably close to 2 hours. Pain-free since then, though.

I'll check back tomorrow, after adding the skullcap to the morning dose!

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Hi.  I'm a newbie that just finished a relatively short cluster season...My last CH was on March 13th.

Though I've had CHs for about 12 years, I've never posted on this site before now.  For relief during these years, I too, have tried all the drugs mentioned by others on this site, but 5 years ago O2 became my sole method for treatment.  7 - 12 liters per minute of blessed relief...

Anyway, after the unexpected retirement of my neurologist, getting my oxygen equipment was delayed for a couple weeks this year...I was 2 weeks into the daily CH pain when I found this forum and THIS topic...

I was intrigued with the thought of something as simple as an herb being as effective as O2 (or other drugs) and since I was waiting anyway, I ran to Whole Foods and got some tincture of licorice.

Anyway, my results were amazing!  Totally different than other treatments in it's effect on me.  The results weren't "immediate" but when compared to years of pain, it could have been....

-On the first day, March 5th, I took the licorice, and had 4 CHs that night.  All of them were very mild...about a pain level #2.

-Mar 6th...Licorice x3 and some shadows only.  NO CHs at all.

-Mar 7th...Licorice x3, some shadows and 2 CHs.  Pain level #2.

<I keep a diary of these episodes>

-Mar 8th...Licorice x3, some shadows and NO CHs!

-On Mar 9th, the O2 was delivered.  I still took the licorice x3 and had 2 CHS that night.  Pain level #3.

-Mar 10th...licorice x3.  Only 1 CH at about #5 pain level.  O2 shortened it to about 5 minutes time.  It started strong and ended real quick...

-Mar 11th and Mar 12th...Licorice x3.  No need for O2.  2 days with No CHs.

-Mar 13th...Licorice x3.  1 CH at about pain #3.  Lasted 15 minutes with O2...

That was my last CH.  Total season was about 4 weeks long...

Now, I know that not everyone will see my results as being conclusive in favor of licorice.  After all, the delivery of O2 does confuse the experiment.  However, I am certain that the licorice was quietly effecting my CHs and therefore limiting my need for the O2...

Plus, I have health issues like BP and BAP and so I am careful with supplements.  No problems either...

Okay...my conclusion and opinion...

I noticed an immediate difference in the frequency and pain level after starting the licorice treatment.  Where my episodes had been daily and very painful, they suddenly became intermittent and mild.  After I had waited a couple weeks for the O2 delivery, the use of licorice eliminated my need once it had arrived.

Hard to believe?  Yes.  I still have a partial bottle of licorice and a whole bunch of O2, and my CHs stopped over 3 weeks ago.  No shadows or anything...

Oh yeah, in past seasons I have resorted to taking a portable O2 bottle if I needed to travel during a season (nothing worse than a camping trip with CHs).  As well, if you ride a bike, portable O2 is not really an option either.  No over nighters.

Now, my first line of defense will be a little bottle of licorice tincture in my saddle bag...

Thank you Les Gesner for sharing this information...

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Handy, that is some pretty damn good news. . .and thank you for being so thorough! I like to read detailed information like this, and I do believe this licorice treatment deserves a much closer look for both episodics and chronics. It remains the only treatment I've tried that absolutely goes to work on the source of the problem in the HPA axis, and isn't just a short-circuit of a related pain mechanism.

My CH haven't gone away, but licorice (and now skullcap) have changed them for the better. I made it through Sunday pain-free, and got to about 8pm on Monday when I felt one coming on. . .and it panicked me, because I was far from my trusty energy shots. I keep them in my car, but not in the fire engine I was in that day. Damn. But this hit never got beyond about a 4, and it went away quickly.

The best thing the licorice has done for me? I don't think I've been hit one time at night since I've started taking it. All of my hits have been during the day, which is a welcome relief in and of itself.

Now, it just comes down to finding the right maintenance dose, and possibly the right combination of things to go with it that will help keep this thing under control!

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Yes sir.  Though it's no cure for CH, I'm optimistic that licorice is a good (and safe)

management tool.  I took 2 droppers with a little water, 3 times daily as a preventative.  (I only used it once as an onset treatment, so that was inconclusive.)

I had no side effects (good or bad).  It even tasted mildly like the candy.  I found nothing wrong with using licorice, and yet something about my CHs was definitely changed.

As well, I was especially pleased since my previous CH season had lasted much longer at 4 months.  (That's 4 months without a beer!)

We'll see what happens next time  ;)

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  Hello Everyone,  I'm back and happy to have computer access again. Been a long time and so many links ago since the computer crashed. I had a lot of catching up to do and have now spent a whole day reading Les's thread. Had the significant other log on with a new user name but I'm still Dave O. Many questions come to mind, but in following this thread most have been answered. I'm currently in a full blown cycle with 2-3 hits a night 6-8's I have been aborting w/ O2 and they go away in 20-30 minutes. But recently have been getting them at work, I slam a Monster and grab an ice pack and try to hide for a while. Interesting observation though, took a couple days off with the kids, went to our condo in the Mountains and relaxed. Don't know if it's getting away from work, home or just relaxation but two nights Pain Free. Handy your situation sounds similar to mine, I also have BP being treated by  lisinopril/HCTZ, seems to be controlled by medicine I check it daily. I just picked up some Herb Pharm licorice extract and was looking for some advice-From anyone. Since I'm Pain Free for 2 days, do I hope the cycles complete or do I start a regiment of "Preventive" dosing today. If the cycles broken, what's the shelf life for the Licorice extract?                                                                               By the way, Les thanks for all the very informative insight and if I do start the Licorice I will follow up with results.                                                                                  Dave

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Hello Handy,

Can I ask what is your normal or most recent  cycles have been?  Do you get an annual visitor?  Mine has gone from 1 year to 2, but the cycle lasts longer.  I'm interested in CH evolution and if there are patterns as we get older.  I'm told it isn't going away, the dirty rat, but perhaps for some, if a remission period doubles every other cycle then eventually I'd be 86 years old with remissions of 12 years, that would effectively be the end of the CH.  Or if the remission doubles in time, does the cycle do the same?   Will my last cycle be my longest? 

Great to hear you're into remission.   I hope to be in your shoes this week.  So far 2 days PF,  Cutting back to 2X licorice for the rest of the week. 

A question for Lt2...  is this 14 month cycle your first ever?  No previous history?  Or did I read that wrong.

Rob in North Vandersdam-De Shroom...

I was telling my sweet babou about the mushroom option and, as a native to the region, she remembers picking them in the wild many years ago.  Looks like we're both going to be taking a trip down memory lane...   

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Dave, I'm sure Les will chime in on this with much more knowledge than I can add, but you should probably check with your doctor on the blood pressure thing. Licorice will elevate your BP, I guarantee it. I never put a cuff on to check it, but there were times when I was on 3x a day that I could hear my pulse in my ears occasionally, and that's starting with a very normal BP.

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  Thanks Lt2,                                              

That's interesting potential scary news for me. I did recently discuss the possibly of using alternate methods with my primary physician to help w/ my CH, and during the physical she said she was familiar with Licorice tincture and thought my BP being under control was a viable option. I look forward to all input from anyone with a similar condition and maybe if Les was available to respond, it would be greatly appreciated.

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I'll try to get to everything, but I have to make an observation first. Why is everyone surprised when this works? We as a species are really impressed with ourselves and our technological acumen. Our computers, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals are really hot stuff. Well, apologies to Jeopardy, but no computer can perform the calculations to get up and walk across a room like any two year old can. Bees routinely instantly calculate the shortest route between flowers (the 'traveling salesman' problem) which the fastest computer would take days to figure out. Geneticists  high five each other for roundup resistant crops (another classic arrogant mistake-in-the making, just wait) and it's obvious that most of the medical establishment thinks the answers to everything are in some high tech white and chrome future fantasy where the lab techs all look like Disney princesses in white coats,no one ever farts, and the drug ads all have dolphins in them ("Just like nature intended....only better!!!").

And now for some reality. Some science type needs to correct me on this, because I can't remember the exact percentage, but you might not be aware that we as humans share something like 90% of our genome with Oak trees, and every other life form on earth. Scientists do not understand what this stuff is or what it does, they call it "junk DNA", and it apparently is independent of the two percent or so of our genetics that make us humans rather then squirrels. I don't know what it does either, but I can tell you what that 90% means to me..the Lakota have a phrase for it, they say 'mitakuye oyasin', meaning "all my relatives", or we are all related. We have all co-evolved on this planet for billions of years (sorry creationists). We all belong here. Everything we need is here, if we don't kill it, poison it, burn it or shit on it first. No laboratory in the world, with unlimited funds and unlimited genius, could synthesize within an order of magnitude anything remotely as complex and elegantly designed as the licorice plant. We are basically family.

Anyway, I could have saved us all a lot of time by simply saying nature is smarter than we are. Of course it works.

OK enough fooling around.

Dave: HCTZ is a diuretic, and my therapeutic manual specifically warns against licorice use with diuretics as it inhibits fluid loss and increases potassium loss. The same manual advises 'cautious' use with antihypertensives as it may inhibit their activity. As always, ask your doctor or better yet a good pharmacist. A well made tincture has an indefinite shelf life if kept away from heat and sunlight.

Rob: Unless Babou is a Mycologist get a really good book and go with someone who knows their S. I don't want to have to tell you how good milk thistle is for amanita poisoning. Just kidding; I wish I could go too. But be careful.

Trying to figure patterns can make you nuts. I started at about 18 as a chronic, morphed into a long cycle episodic for many years,went into remission for two years and came back as a suicide chronic.

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I'm afraid my "Sweet Babou" is not any kind of "olygist."   So yes if we decide to go hunting we'll be very careful indeed.  I'm thinking we'll just buy some anyway...

The pattern is certainly weird this time around, as I'm thinking remission here we come, I get woken up 2 hours after I go to bed on Wednesday night.   No major K action but I still can't go back to sleep for 5 hours.  This is where the O2 would have come in handy I'm sure.  20 minutes and I'm probably back to bed, counting beavers...  Head and eye sore for rest of the day. 

So we're 8 weeks and counting in this cycle, another few days and we have a new record.   Yay.   &*#@*&!!

Can anyone else see my posts besides Les?   Hello out there?  Can you see this post?  I've been to parties where this has happened too... You meet someone new and you're explaining to them about your hobbies, I collect spores moulds and fungis by the way, and then you look around and the room is empty...   Weird.

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  Thank you Les,

I appreciate you taking the time to research from your manual and responding to my inquiry, although it wasn't the answer I wanted to hear I kind of suspected it wouldn't be as easy for me...darn.

  I'll definitely review with the Doctor and try to seek a pharmacist who can find a minute to discuss.

  Thanks again,


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Les, you devote so much time so helpfully here that I hate to be a nag, but I'm wondering whether you might be able to get around to the question of using D3 and LR simultaneously toward treating CH.  Each has proven beneficial for many but not universally for everyone.  If they're not contraindicated somehow, it seems potentially advisable to me to use both.


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i was reading and noticed the blood pressure mentioned , fiorinol i take reduces blood pressure from 120/80 to about 100/80 approximately and it has the effect of keeping the headaches away 3-7 hrs , so elevating your bp is prob not good , especially if you have high numbers to begin with , sometimes i say screw it, and try to hold off taking a capsule , it is just one more headache been there before , then when it gets here sometimes it kicks your butt ,

hope it doesn t hit you too hard if bp kicks off one , dave

iam going to try some licorice if i can buy it at the pharmacy , going there now, 4am couldn t sleep , been hit kindof lightly last two days and i hope it is over , but that usually means there is a bigger headache about to come , like it is gathering energy for my destruction , like the al bundy curse if anyone has ever seen that show 

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For CH Father:

I finally read that thread re: the vitamins and the fish oil.

Short answer: I don't see anything that would preclude someone from using both.

I would, however point out that the giant dose is probably unnecessary. More than the system can absorb, of any vitamin, is simply excreted and can be hard on the liver.

The licorice root would probably act in a complementary fashion, since as you know it inhibits cortisol depletion (the body's most potent anti-inflammatory) and depresses mast cell (histamine) activity.

I hope this answers the question. Sorry I took so long.

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