The Clusterbusters Method, which we call busting, involves dosing with naturally occurring substances called tryptamines. Some individuals use tryptamines recreationally, for their psychoactive hallucinogenic effects.
Taken at sub-hallucinogenic levels for the treatment of CH, tryptamines are lifesaving medicines. (Legal Information and Warnings). Tryptamines affect serotonin and provide neuro-vasoconstriction, like some of the traditionally prescribed medications such as sumatriptan and DHE. Psilocybin and lysergic acid amide (LSA) are the most commonly used tryptamines in Busting.
Psilocybin is found in the psilocybe family of mushrooms. LSA is found in seeds of certain flowering vines, such as the Rivea corymbosa (RC) and the Hawaiian baby woodrose (HBWR). Many cluster patients report a favorable Response of cluster headache to LSA Seeds. A less commonly used tryptamine is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). While more research is needed, LSD might be the most effective for CH. These indoleamine hallucinogens are often reported to work just as well or more than traditional medications.
Clusterbusters has also been involved in the research of a synthetic tryptamine which removes the hallucinogenic effect of LSD—BOL-148 (2-bromo-LSD). BOL-148 showed promising results in a German study and more research is underway.
Warnings and Drug Interactions
With some exceptions, in most places worldwide, it is illegal to buy, sell, grow, or use tryptamines. Presume that all tryptamines are always illegal and that obtaining or using them comes with a legal risk, of felony or misdemeanor charges. However, the law can be nuanced and complex and vary widely from place to place. For those reasons, we suggest proceeding with caution and discretion in relationship to governing laws, and consulting with a licensed attorney familiar with the laws in your location.
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TRYPTAMINES ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE
- Do not use tryptamines if you are pregnant, they can cause miscarriage.
- Do not use tryptamines if you suffer from or are prone to mental illness.
- Take tryptamines only in the proper mind set and physical setting.
- Tryptamines have physiological effects.
- Tryptamines are illegal.
- We are not doctors. This is not medical advice.
- Take no medication and use no treatment without consulting a physician.
- Obtain a through and accurate diagnosis from a knowledgeable doctor or neurologist before assuming you suffer from cluster headache.
For more detailed warnings see the WARNINGS page.
In addition to possible legal consequences, there are some other things to keep in mind if you are considering medicating with tryptamines:
- Take no medication or treatment without first consulting with a physician.
- Tryptamines and some of the chemicals found in natural substances containing tryptamines can cause miscarriage. Do not take tryptamines if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
- Those diagnosed in the past or present with a psychotic disorder, or with biological parents or siblings diagnosed with a psychotic disorder should not take tryptamines, including LSD, psilocybin, DMT and LSA.
- Psychotic disorders include, but are not limited to schizophrenia, delusional disorder, and some affective (mood-related) disorders.
- Tryptamines may exacerbate symptoms of psychosis or trigger psychosis in people with a history of the disorder, or with immediate family members who experience psychosis.
Sometimes one drug will enhance, block, or alter entirely the intended actions of another.
The Clusterbusters treatment method works best when drugs that have potential for interacting with tryptamines have been cleared from the body. Many with Cluster Headache take some of these drugs for other conditions and should talk with their licensed health care provider before making any medication changes. Some drugs must be discontinued slowly over time, under direct medical supervision. Never stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting with your physician.
The below list is not exhaustive and more research is needed on much of this information that has mostly been gathered from anecdotal reports.
Drugs that Enhance/Alter
Psychoactive effects of tryptamines may be greatly intensified while taking other medications, especially those prescribed to treat neurological and/or mental health disorders. These drugs include but are not limited to
- Lithium (also commonly prescribed to treat Cluster Headache)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as Nardil or Parnate.
Drugs that Block/Interfere
Many medications commonly prescribed to Cluster Headache will interfere with or block the effectiveness of tryptamines. When the Clusterbusters method doesn’t work, often it is because the following drugs are interfering:
- Triptans – commonly prescribed abortive treatment for cluster headache – should be discontinued for at least 5 days prior to busting. These include:
- Sumatriptan (Imitrex®)
- Zolmatriptan (Zomig®)
- Rizatriptan (Maxalt®)
- Naratriptan (Amerge®)
- Frovatriptan (Frova®)
- Almotriptan (Axert®)
- Eletriptan (Relpax®)
- Corticosteroids – commonly prescribed preventives.
- Calcium channel blockers – commonly prescribed preventives
- Verapamil (Isoptin, Verelan, Verelan PM, Calan, Bosoptin and Covera-HS)
- Topiramate (Topamax, Trokendi (XR), Qudexy XR)
- Sodium Valproate (Depakote)
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
- Dihydroergotamine (DHE)
- Methysergide Maleate (Sansert)
- Cafergot (Migergot)
- Ergotamine Tartrate (Ergomar)
- Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexava)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Re-uptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
- Tricyclic Antidepressants
- Amitriptyline (Elavil)
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- Imipramine (Tofranil)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Oxycodone (Percocet)
- Oxymorphone (Opana)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Fentanyl (Duragesic, Abstral, Subsys)
Many substances are unlikely to interact adversely with tryptamines and may include:
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.)
- Antacids and anti-ulcer medications
- Asthma medications
- Energy drinks
- B-Complex and multi vitamins
- Diovan (blood pressure)
- Protonix (for acid reflux)
- Meclizine and Dimenhydramine (anti-nausea agents)
Set and Setting
Even when dosing with tryptamines at sub-hallucinogenic levels, experiencing their psychoactive effects can occur unexpectedly; tryptamines should be taken only in a setting where one feels secure and with known and trusted others.
Taking tryptamines during or immediately after a period of emotional upheaval, such as a relationship breakup or the death of a loved one, for example, may intensify unwelcome emotions.
Tryptamines cause physiological effects. Especially those with heart disease, high blood pressure, circulation problems, and/or liver disease should seek medical advice before using any tryptamine.
There are other compounds that are considered by some to fall into this category, such as Ketamine (which can be prescribed by certain doctors), MDMA, DMT, and Mescaline, that may also work to abort and prevent cluster headache attacks.
Clusterbusters has identified methods of using tryptamines to break a cycle, prevent a cycle, and stop an attack. Whichever goal you are trying to accomplish, there are several things to keep in mind before starting.
Some medications can interfere with the cluster treatment (See Warnings and Drug Interactions).
It is important to stop taking them and to let them clear out of your system before using tryptamines. This includes many cluster medicines and this can be difficult, but there are ways to survive clusters without Imitrex or verapamil (See COPING – BUSTER-FRIENDLY TREATMENTS: Coping
Medications for other conditions and recreational drugs can also interfere, and it is important to avoid triggers such as alcohol. Of course, you should never stop or change your medication without your doctor’s knowledge and consent.
It is important to stay away from interfering cluster meds after the tryptamine dose as well as before. Often there are attacks a little while after a tryptamine treatment, but resorting to Imitrex or other interfering meds can cause the treatment to fail.
Shutting the Door
In a way, tryptamines tend to interfere with themselves. Taking a second dose too soon after the first can make the treatment ineffective – see SHUTTING THE DOOR: Shutting Door
Rule of Five
The conservative rule of thumb is to wait five days:
Wait five days after stopping Imitrex or verapamil, for example.
Wait five days after dosing before returning to conventional meds such as Imitrex, etc.
Wait five days between doses of tryptamines.
Amount and Measuring
The amount of tryptamine taken is important – too little and the treatment won’t work. Too much and the experience can become unpleasant, unsettling, or worse. To be truthful, some say they enjoy or are inspired by a significant psychedelic experience, and obtain benefits beyond cluster relief. We don’t oppose enjoying one’s medicine, but the focus here is on treating clusters with as few side effects as possible. You can find substance specific information in following sections.
It’s hard to get an accurate measurement of natural substances – natural things vary, and mushrooms and seeds can vary in the amount of active ingredient, even between two samples of the same species, the same batch and even the same plant or mushroom. Both psilocybin and LSA degrade over time, and how much they degrade depends on how they are stored.
DOSING TO PREVENT CYCLES
It is easier to stop a cycle from starting than it is to break the cycle once it starts. Preventive dosing is very effective and can keep a clusterhead pain-free for miraculous periods of time. Tryptamines are the only medication found so far that seem to be able to prevent cluster cycles.
Many clusterheads have very predictable cycles – every year they start right at the spring equinox, for example, or at the end of June. Many clusterheads dose once or twice a little while before the cycle is expected…and the cycle doesn’t show. Some manage to keep the beast at bay for years with a regular schedule of dosing every few months or once or twice a year.
If the cycles aren’t predictable, the earlier into the cycle the better – as close to the very first hint of the cycle starting as possible is best. Having the treatment on hand in the freezer is prudent.
DOSING TO BREAK A CYCLE
Often, people decide to resort to the tryptamine treatment when they are in the middle of a cycle and desperate to end the attacks. Breaking a cycle usually takes repeated doses just strong enough to stop the beast without causing too much psychedelic trip.
DOSING TO STOP ATTACKS
Some clusterheads have found relief using very small doses of tryptamines to stop individual attacks.
When attempting to break a cycle they noticed that dosing with mushrooms would stop an attack in its tracks. But at cycle-breaking dosages, the “shutting the door” effect can block the effectiveness of subsequent doses for four or five days. See SHUTTING THE DOOR
A little experimentation showed that using a very small dose would not trigger the shutting-door effect, and could be repeated as attacks occurred. At such small amounts, there would be little or no psychedelic effects at all.
The first experiments with this idea involved placing a small piece of mushroom under the tongue and holding it there, and this method was dubbed the SPUT method, for “Small Piece Under Tongue.” The tissues inside the mouth can absorb substances and get them into the blood stream without going through the stomach, and can get them in much more quickly than swallowing the substance.
Some were soon reporting they could stop an attack in 10 to 20 minutes by placing a little bit of mushroom under the tongue and sucking on it. The taste is bad, but in comparison to an hour of cluster attack, it might as well be ambrosia.
The technique also works with mushroom tea by holding the a small amount of liquid in the mouth and slurping it around as long as possible. Some find this technique can work with RC seeds by crushing a few and holding them under the tongue. With HWBR, the inside meat of a single seed is enough.
None of these methods are likely to be a gourmet taste treat. A small glass of citrus or cranberry juice can help flush out the foul taste afterwards.
Like just about everything else concerning clusters, this technique does not work for everyone all the time.
Some have tried using the SPUT technique to break a cycle – taking a SPUT daily whether there was an attack or not, with the idea that a cycle could be broken without using larger doses and experiencing the side effects. Unfortunately, the reported results so far have ranged from disappointing to inconclusive.
BUSTING WITH PSILOCYBIN
Clusterheads often say they use about half the amount commonly taken for a mild recreational trip on shrooms. How much this is depends on the species of mushroom, among other factors. Two grams of dried psilocybe cubensis is a typical mild recreational dose, so one gram or less is a common medicinal dose. Fresh mushrooms are mostly water, and will weigh ten times as much as their equivalent in dried mushrooms. A medicinal dose of fresh cubensis would weigh 10 grams or less.
Everyone is different, and the effects of psilocybin will be different for everyone. A wise approach is to start with a very small dose, perhaps a quarter or half a gram, and adjust it upward as necessary. Most households don’t have a scale capable of measuring gram amounts, but a scale accurate enough for our purposes can be improvise or purchased inexpensively.
Be careful. The potency of each batch of mushrooms can vary. Even different parts of the same mushroom can vary; in some species the stems can have more psilocybin by weight than the caps. Mushrooms picked early when they are small can be quite potent relative to their size and weight. They have as much psilocybin when they first appear as when they do when they grow to full size.
Mushrooms can be eaten whole, eaten in small pieces, chopped up and placed in capsules, soaked in honey and consumed along with the honey, covered in chocolate, or made into a tea. Any of these methods are about equal in effectiveness.
Some just chew up the mushrooms, or chop them up and chase them down with water. But most people find the taste of psilocybin mushrooms very disagreeable, and prefer to ingest them in a manner that disguises or minimizes the taste.
Making mushroom tea is a very controllable and tolerable way of ingesting psilocybin. The mushrooms should be kept whole and in storage until just before making the tea. The shrooms should be finely chopped and soaked in hot water – not boiling – 10 minutes or so. To extract as much active ingredient from the mushroom bits as possible, the mushroom bits should be strained out and the steep repeated in fresh water. All the steeped water should be saved and mixed together.
The basic tea can be made ahead of time and stored in a refrigerator for a week or two, or much longer if frozen. A blue or greenish-blue color is normal. Discard if it gets cloudy or looks funny. Some like to mix in other ingredients to further mask the taste and speed absorption into the body. A popular recipe is Pinksharkmark’s Kick-ass Shroom Tea. See Ways to Take
Since various mushroom parts and individual mushrooms can vary in potency, making tea evens out these variations for a more predictable dosage. Also, dividing a liquid into equal or specific amounts is much easier and can be done more accurately than with dried mushrooms.
The main challenge in swallowing down mushrooms is keeping them down. Shrooms are famous for the mild nausea they can produce, but this effect can be avoiding by using tea or mushroom powder packed into capsules. See Ways to Take
For best absorption, take the mushrooms or tea on an empty or nearly-empty stomach. Eating fatty or greasy foods can coat the stomach and prevent absorption of the psilocybin.
Generally, the psychedelic effects can be expected to be felt 20 minutes to two hours after ingestion. Once the stuff is ingested, patience is important. A common mistake is to think the mushrooms are having too little effect or the dose was too small; more mushrooms are taken only to discover the effects were merely delayed, and the dose and its effects are more than wanted or expected.
Of course, the dose should be taken at a time and place that will provide the best set and setting for a psychedelic experience. Depending on the dose, the psychedelic effects will continue for two to six hours, ramping up slowly, and decreasing even more slowly.
While the idea here is to avoid the psychedelic experience, at least some “trip” can be expected at times. Usually this is mild. An effective dose might give a quantity of high like what you might get from two beers, though the quality of the buzz is different. Significant trips can occur, and this experience can be awe inspiring, unsettling or both. See Experience
The medicinal effect can be apparent very quickly, or it can take some time. It can often seem to have the opposite effect from what is intended, with severe, increased or unusual cluster attacks in the days immediately following doing. These “slap-back” attacks can be distressing, but they are temporary and can be a sign the tryptamines are having an effect. Better days are likely to follow.
BUSTING WITH LSA SEEDS
With Rivea corymbosa and Hawaiian baby woodrose, simply count the number of whole, fresh seeds needed. To be careful and conservative, many start off with 8 or 10 RC seeds or one or two HBWR seeds, judge their effect, then increase (usually) or decrease the number to find the best therapy with the least psychedelia.
RC seeds should be crushed to a coarse powder and soaked in a couple ounces of water for an hour or so before taking. The seeds can be ground in a pepper mill or a mortar and pestle.
HBWR seeds have a hull that contains some unpleasant chemicals. Break open the seeds and try to pry or dig the softer, lighter “meat” from inside the seed. Discard the hulls and soak the meat in water for an hour or so.
Some swallow the water and the seeds; some strain out the seeds and drink the water. The taste is horrible, so be ready with cold water to chase the seeds down. Citrus or cranberry juice is good for getting the taste out of your mouth.
Psychoactive effects can be expected to be felt 20 minutes to two hours after ingestion. LSA seeds generally provide a very mild experience in most people, though some can have significant experiences similar to psilocybin or LSD, and one should consider set and setting as with psilocybin or any psychedelic substance. At medicinal doses, LSA usually has only a slight psychedelic effect, and many people find it merely makes them a little drowsy. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery…See Experience
BUSTING WITH LSD