Opinions, Facts & Observations – Expanded Psychedelic Section Volume Two Psychedelic and other Alternative Treatment Manual
Different psychedelic compounds have been used to treat a long list of ailments including various headache types. There is evidence that psychedelics were used to treat headaches as long as 3000 years ago. In all those years, there has never been a recorded case of any overdose deaths due strictly to psilocybin or LSD.
There was a lot of research going on using psychedelics in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s using psychedelics to treat everything from mental illness to curing addictions. There was plenty of safety research undertaken including its safe use in pediatric cases.
The renascence in cluster headache treatment with psychedelics began in 1998 with discussion and anecdotal data collection centered in the website message boards of clusterheadahces.com
Those of us interested in pursuing these treatments and advancing research formed Clusterbusters to move the research from the message boards to the clinical research labs.
The current state of this research and available treatments is found in this handbook.
The following information will hopefully answer many questions that you may have.
Psychedelic and other Alternative Treatments
Keeping up to date
Research & Clinical Studies
1. There are several studies going on or in the process of starting soon and Clusterbusters is involved in many of them.
I would suggest signing up for our patient registry so you will get all the latest news and info on upcoming clinical studies.
As we updated everyone at our conference in September, we have several clinical studies in the works. Some of which are currently accepting patients and others that most likely will be asking for study participants within the next 12 to 18 months. These studies involve genetics, psilocybin, and a couple others. We recently completed and had published, results of a study involving the psychological burden of cluster headaches, the efficacy and safety of oxygen treatments and the cluster headache pain profile. We also will keep everyone up to date on the other study that we are working closely with bringing BOL-148 into research labs. Anyone wishing to participate in these studies should be registered in our Patient Registry. In some of the studies, all participants will be invited strictly from those that are on our registry. Some of these clinical trials will have study sites outside the United States as well as within the US. This is an international registry and we are looking for people from every country to sign up. A couple of these studies in particular will be looking specifically for people living in the UK, Germany and Canada. Please share this information with anyone you may know residing in these countries.
To register, please go to this link:
A. Psilocybin Study
We have started a psilocybin study at Yale University along with the VA and are currently accepting patients into the study. If you have wanted to try psilocybin to treat your clusters and for any reason haven’t been able to, such as not being able to procure the materials, or have issues because it is still illegal, this is an FDA approved clinical study. You just need to be able to get yourself to Connecticut. There is financial assistance available for travel.
The results so far have been impressive and the studies have expanded to include the treatment of migraine headaches.
B. BOL-148: Research, Development
This substance is an analog of LSD and has been around many years. The early study done by Clusterbusters showed extremely impressive results. Further study and development has long been delayed due to the usual drug development issues and not because of its efficacy. Keep your eye on it as we still believe it will be further studied and eventually developed for use. The process for getting FDA approval for clinical trials has begun and we will be keeping everyone up to date.
- “The Non-Hallucinogen 2-Bromo-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide as Preventative Treatment for Cluster Headache: An Open, Non-Randomized Case Series” https://clusterbusters.org/cb/yabbfiles/Attachments/Cephalgia_article_on_Bromo-LSD.PDF
- “Attack Cessation and Remission Induction with 2-Bromo-L SD for Cluster Headache” https://clusterbusters.org/cb/yabbfiles/Attachments/BOL_Halpern_IHS2009-2.pdf
Currently Available Treatments
The three main psychedelic treatments are unique in their mode of action. They are not an abortive or preventive in any of the usual sense. They are not used to abort an attack like the triptans and they are not taken every day like normal preventives. They can sometimes prevent a cycle from starting if taken early enough. They can abort an entire cycle and not just an attack. Yes they can abort an attack or low doses can end a “shadow” but these treatments are not used to replace your present abortives. When used, the object is to treat “the cycle” and not just an attack. The doses that are used are much less than what is usually taken as a recreational dose. They are taken once every 5 days and not daily.
Episodics have been known to completely break a cycle with just a few doses. Chronics usually take more doses and start spreading out the time between doses. Although starting off taken at 5 day intervals, you do not take them every 5 days forever. The object is to use as few doses as possible, at the lowest dose that works, and work to extend the time between doses until the cycle has broken.
Most of these treatments are all illegal or restricted in some way, depending on where you live. Some things can be easily and legally ordered online. Psilocybin mushrooms have recently been decriminalized in three U.S. cities. All these cities have passed ordinances that prohibit law enforcement from spending any time or resources on the possession of psilocybin mushrooms. Many more cities across the country have similar laws in the process of being passed. The three current cities are Oakland Ca., Santa Ana Ca., and Denver Co.
The following link leads to all the general information on treating cluster headaches with psychedelics. Please click on all the embedded links also as there is a lot of information contained in these documents.
This paper should be read completely and has information that applies to using all the different psychedelic treatments. The most important pages to read are those that explain the warnings about additional contraindicated conditions you may have and medications you may be taking.
Contrary to what you may have heard or are worried about, there is absolutely nothing illegal or troublesome about this document or the information contained within it. As a matter of fact, this 68 page document is copyrighted in the United States and you can find a copy of it to read in the Library of Congress if you ever visit there. Speech is still protected and we’ve been sharing this information for 20 years without any issues.
The first and most often used psychedelic treatment is with psilocybin which is the hallucinogenic substance found in “magic mushrooms”.
These have been used successfully by many people (thousands) for many years.
Most people grow their own which is fairly easy and can be done very discreetly. There are many videos online that will teach you the techniques. You can order the spores (seeds) online and the rest of the supplies can be purchased at garden shops or places like Home Depot.
The type of mushroom and their spores, that are used, are called Psilocybe Cubensis. There are many varieties but they are all very similar in the amounts of psilocybin they will contain.
Consider the possibility of investing $100.00 and you can be set up to grow your own medication for the rest of your life. Your pharmacist will be sending you Birthday cards asking where you’ve been all this time.
Ralphsters Spores has been helping people with clusters for many years. You can order spores from their site at:
Premium Spores is another source. Their privacy and security is excellent. They do not retain any records or credit card info. They also take visa prepaid cards. Here is their link:
Another one for supplies is Midwest Grow Kits. Their system is automated and it comes with a detailed how to guide. Another plus is they will ship to FedEx office locations for pickup. Here is their link:
You cannot get the spores and all the growing supplies and instructions all in one place, sorry.
Instructions: This is part 1, 2 & 3 of a 5 part series and is the best online for growing your own mushrooms.
Once you get to this video just click on each follow up video by the same person.
Part one ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHJQrsZFQdE
Part three: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGQok-UnyJE
Additional Growing magic mushrooms video
B. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
There is no way of procuring this other than through illegal means. Information on the treatment is on the Clusterbusters pages and instructions are very similar to those of the psilocybin treatments. You just can’t grow your own.
It has been shown to have slightly better results than psilocybin and LSA. This may be due to the fact that it is a more pure chemical than using mushrooms or seeds, and that the effects can be felt for about twice as long so it is treating the cluster mechanism for twice as long as the other psychedelic treatments.
General dosing details and tips on LSD and Psilocybin:
- Following any detoxing that needs to be done prior to dosing with either LSD or Psilocybin, you should try your best to use nothing but oxygen as an abortive. The same medications you detoxed from should be avoided between all doses. If you need something other than giving up the treatment plan and resorting back to your prescription meds, you are better off using a small amount of LSD or Psilocybin as an abortive than anything like Imitrex. This would be something in the range of pinch of psilocybin placed under the tongue or 1/8th your dose of LSD.
- When you are detoxing, you may find that after a couple days, your clusters are already starting to improve. Especially if you’ve been using triptans for an extended period of time, you are probably causing more attacks per day than you were before you started taking triptans. This decrease in activity is actually your body going back to it’s baseline number and intensity of attacks. Most people find detox not nearly as bad as they feared it would be.
- Prepare for a day of treatment. A dose of psilocybin will last approximately 5-6 hours. LSD will last about 12 hours. Don’t plan on driving. Make sure you have everything on hand that you’ll need for the day. You don’t even want to have your “sitter” having to run for cigarettes. It’s best to have someone you trust plan on sitting with you throughout the process. Someone that can answer the phone and say that you’re indisposed. Someone that you feel comfortable discussing some possible intimate issues. You very well may feel like you’d like to share some things you have been keeping to yourself. Its not a truth serum but you may come to some realizations that you’d like to discuss.
- A normal starting dose with mushrooms is either 1 gram or 1.5 grams of dried mushrooms. Most people grind it up with a coffee grinder and pack it into empty gel caps. These can be purchased online and are very cheap. You can use the 0 or 00 size. The normal starting dose for LSD is between 50 and 100mcg. This is normally between ½ and 1 full “tab” but you need to know your supplier. This is an issue with using LSD. Getting it from a trusted source and making sure that the product is constant in strength.
- The effects that you should be trying to reach at these doses will produce the following:
a. A slight buzz similar to a “2 beer buzz” is how most explain it.
b. Brighter colors such as very blue, blue skies.
c. Slightly more separation in stereo sounds. This is why your favorite music will sound better than ever.
d. As to how your head feels, you are looking for a feeling of all the built-up pressure you have been feeling, draining away as if someone pulled a plug. It may feel clearer than it has in years.
e. This size dose is also known to put a smile on your face for 4-5 hours. If you put on a comedy video, you may not stop laughing.
f. As discussed earlier, you may also feel some emotions that bring tears to your eyes. You may go through many emotions. Most people comment afterwards that this is one of the best and most important aspects of the treatment. You may deal with emotions that you’ve been keeping inside for years. It’s not a coincidence that these products are having incredible results in helping people with years of anxiety, depression and PTSD.
g. If you look closely, flat surfaces may have a slight movement.
h. The effects usually kick in between 30-45 minutes after taking the dose.
i. Keep some blankets around. You’ll probably feel cold for an hour or so somewhere along the line.
j. Plan on taking off some clothes at some point because you may also feel really worm at some point.
k. Don’t go online and don’t call anyone just to get something off your mind. Especially your family members 😉
l. You may feel a little nauseous after an hour or so, usually only with mushrooms. If this becomes a problem, its best to make a tea with the mushrooms rather than eating the dried mushrooms. There are recipes for the tea online. Its very simple.
m. There is also more of what’s known as body load with mushrooms (much more than with LSD) This means that you may feel more aches and pains with mushrooms. This is your body telling you where you have problem areas. Your body talking to you. If you have a bad back, it may hurt more than usual. If you had a knee replaced at some point, you’ll be reminded of that.
n. The following day you may feel hung over. This can be helped with a couple aspirin and some coffee or energy drink.
- More is not better. Bigger doses do not equal faster results. You may need to adjust your dose amount after the first dose. If the first dose didn’t produce the types of effects discussed above you’ll need to adjust. If you felt those effects and then zipped past them and felt more than these things, you should probably reduce the dose. If you never felt the clear headed feeling, you should increase the dose amount. Carefully. Increase the size by 25% each time. (Note: Doubling the dose more than doubles the effects.)
- This dosing works best if used once every 5 days until the cycle is broken. After a couple of doses you should try to expand the time between doses a few days each time. But don’t push this if you seem to be losing ground while waiting.
C. LSA (Seeds) (d-lysergic acid amide)
Ordering LSA seeds is easy online. There are several sites that can be trusted and have been helping people with clusters get good product. You don’t need to mention the seeds will be used to treat clusters and if you say you will be using them for that purpose, they can’t send them to you and will cancel the order. They are, for legal purposes, “not for human consumption”. They know what they will be used for. Ordering them is perfectly legal. If you’ve ever purchased Morning Glory seeds at a flower shop or from Amazon, you’ve had these seeds. You may have them growing in your garden.
One of the biggest warnings with the seeds that everyone needs to be aware of in the vascular constriction that comes along with these. Just like the warnings that come with prescription ergots, there are things everyone needs to be made aware and handle with care. Example: If you suffer from Reynaud’s syndrome, you should either stay away completely or be very careful with low doses. You should always consult with your doctor on adding any chemicals to your routine. They are the ones that will know your medical history and other issues you may have.
One place that has been around a long time is:
I Am Shamin : http://www.iamshaman.com/
You want to order Rivea Corymbosa seeds.
You can also use Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds but they are a little more difficult to process and also harder to adjust doses. I would suggest the Rivea Corymbosa seeds to start. The fewer the seeds the better in that you will then consume fewer of the ergots that are in the husks. This is why Morning Glories are the least desired method as it would take hundreds of seeds for a dose. The HBWR though are so potent that the difference in one or two seeds can make a big difference in the hallucinogenic effects. That makes it much more difficult to adjust to the lowest effective dose.
This is a link on our website for more info on the use of these seeds:
People are using up to about 100 of the RC seeds for a dose for clusters. It’s good to start with a small amount (10-20) just to make sure you don’t have any issues with being allergic to any of the additional chemicals found in the seeds. There are some other ergots in the seeds as noted above.
Instructions for dosing with seeds:
An effective dose is most usually 60-100 RC seeds. Crush them the best you can and soak in water for 1-2 hours. Any longer does not help and at some point will start to degrade the LSA. After about 6 hours it will actually break down the LSA content.
You can also soak them in clear alcohol if you like. Vodka works and will extract the LSA slightly better than H2o. But water works fine.
You should add a dash of lemon juice to aid in the extraction. You can also dissolve a vitamin C tablet in the mix. You should strain the solution. You don’t need to ingest the husks.
You can mix the solution with something like cranberry juice or anything that has a strong taste because on its own, the solution does not taste very good. All the same rules about dosing with mushrooms or LSD apply to using the seeds. This includes avoiding all the usual cluster meds. See the link about warnings and use of mushrooms.
This dosing works best if used once every 5 days until the cycle is broken. After a couple of doses you should try to expand the time between doses a few days each time. But don’t push this if you seem to be losing ground while waiting.
This is a fairly new treatment and many people have reported good results. It can be ordered online at the moment but seems to be difficult to find at times. There are different and changing laws regarding this chemical.
It does have hallucinogenic properties but just like the other psychedelic treatments, the dose is small enough that those effects are minimal for most people. Some can just take it and go to sleep avoiding all noticeable side effects.
Unlike most of the other psychedelic treatments, 5-Meo-Dalt seems to be needed on a more regular basis and may not “break” your cycle in the usual sense. It is taken on an every 5 day treatment course but just like others in this class, this time period can often be expanded between doses.
There is plenty of information online regarding how to obtain this chemical as well as the treatment procedure. The best and most complete paper on this subject can be found in the “files” section of the Cluster headaches facebook group. It’s also the best place to ask questions on this treatment. https://www.facebook.com/groups/17789934480/
The general treatment plan and the process involved is also based upon all the same information that is found in the Clusterbusters psychedelic treatment documents. The scientific paper on 5-meo-dalt can also be found on the CB website, here:
A. Vitamin D-3 Regimen.
This is a vitamin and supplement regimen that has shown very good results for many people. All of the information, including discussions and follow up surveys can be found here:
There is quite a bit to learn and understand on this treatment and you should read all the information, not just a “Cliffs Notes” version. It’s not a difficult program to put together and will require some lab testing along the way but it can be very worth the time spent.
The document itself describing all the details on the treatment can be found here:
Most of the items on the list have been shown to be effective in treating clusters and other headache disorders on their own. Fish oil, magnesium, B vitamins etc, all have scientific data showing efficacy to some extent. Putting them all together and adding vitamin D has been more effective than any one alone.
B. Kudzu Root
This crazy plant that will grow across a roadway overnight has been used to treat headaches for centuries. Details can be found on our website. It’s a supplement that can be purchased online or at your local health food shop. The scientific research which was carried out by Clusterbusters and Dr. Andrew Sewell can be found here:
C. Support Therapies
Additional information can be found on clusterbusters.org
- Energy Drinks
These can be used to abort an attack if used quick enough and work pretty well with “shadows”. The combination of caffeine and taurine seem to be the active ingredients that help. There are many options out there and all have varying amounts of these chemicals. Find one that works best for you with the least amount of side effects. Don’t over use them, but carrying one around with you can be helpful in getting through the day. We believe that the most important active ingredient in the energy drinks that helps with clusters is the Taurine. Its best to find a drink that has the highest levels of taurine listed.
- Ginger Tea
Again another natural herb that has long been used to treat many things over the years but has been replaced by prescription medications that oftentimes are less effective than what nature has provided. Ginger tea can be very relaxing and not just psychologically. You also need to remember, that just because it is natural, (as with all the same suggestions here) that does not mean there can be issues and side effects and contraindications. Be sure to read the warnings found on the CB pages. Ginger tea is often effective in treating shadows and it’s worth the try if you can use this method to eliminate the shadows, especially when they can sometimes turn into full blown cluster attacks.
- Skullcap Tea
This one is about the best one you can use if you are looking to remove some of the anxiety that you may have while taking other psychedelic treatments. It can be ordered online. If you want to try getting off of, or before getting onto, Xanax or Valium or something similarly strong and addictive, you may want to give this a try before going down that road. When using any of the psychedelic treatments, eliminating any anxiety is essential. You want to go into this with a positive attitude and removing any anxiety is the first step in doing that. It will certainly help you have a treatment dose that can lead to improving your overall mental health and attitude.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that your body produces. It’s levels seem to drop off in cluster patients and it helps regulate sleep among other things. There have been some studies of its efficacy for clusters and it does help a lot of people get some sleep and eliminate some of the nocturnal attacks. Its only available with a prescription in the UK but is over the counter in the US. It can leave a person a big groggy if you wake up in the middle of the night and have to head for your 02 tank so be careful. The same can happen with some people waking up in the morning. It can give similar effects as other sleeping pills. Some people have good results with as little as 3-5 mg at bedtime but others go all the way up to 20mg. Most people that report success take at least 10mg. Take it an hour before bedtime so that it’s in your system when you hit that first REM sleep.
Magnesium has also gone though a few cluster headache studies and has shown some good results. It’s often used in an IV cocktail to treat both clusters and migraines in ER’s. It is taken at a dose of 400mg daily and I would suggest starting it a month or so before your regularly scheduled cluster cycle is due to start for you episodics. If you are going to stay on it for an extended period of time (if its helping) then you should also add an equal amount of calcium to your diet. Magnesium will deplete your calcium stores. This is also something you may want to consider adding to your diet if you are using verapamil as it can help with the side effect of constipation that comes with verapamil.
Additional comments on some common prescription medications used to treat cluster headaches. The following opinions are just that, my opinions based upon collecting many reports of their effectiveness and side effects. Also my personal experience in many cases (I’ve tried over 70 of them).
Many of these medications are used in combination with others and it’s difficult sometimes to pinpoint what actually may be helping, if they are. One thing that seems common among typical cluster drug therapies is that if a single drug or combination is not working well enough, a new drug is added without removing anything from the treatment plan. It may be that an antidepressant, or anti-convulsive is replaced by a different type. What happens if you are on a beta blocker and a calcium channel blocker and seem to be getting only a 20% relief in your cycle, your doctor may want to add an anti-seizure med to the cocktail. Both patient and doctor don’t want to chance losing even that 20% relief and hope to build upon that by adding another type of medication. This is how people end up getting on 6 or 7 different medications at the same time and still getting minimal relief.
When considering the risk versus reward of relief versus side effects, you need to consider the following. If a medication treats your clusters and gives you 80% relief and there are only a couple of minimal side effects, then it’s easy to determine whether or not you want to continue on that drug regimen. But if you are on two or three or more medications and getting less than great results, it’s more difficult to make those risk/reward decisions. Take a good look at the total side effects you are experiencing and also the possible long term effects, and compare the totality of the effects to the relief that you are getting. It may cause you enough concern to ask your doctor about switching things up a little.
This one is in the early stages of testing. It has shown some signs of success for some people but it’s use needs to be monitored closely by the prescribing physician. There are some possible serious side effects if used improperly. If there is one important thing to remember about this drug, it is that it should be used “sparingly” and this can lead people with clusters down that slippery slope we often find ourselves. Clusters themselves don’t come upon us in a sparingly fashion and when we find something that works, it’s difficult not to use it as often as the attacks command.
Ketamine topical cream
This is available through compounding pharmacies and is usually rubbed into the area where the nerve ganglion is located on the back of the neck. Often described as the cluster lump.
Usually done only as an in-patient treatment, this is now being offered by some clinics and physicians as an out-patient option. Clinics are still determining the best dosing program and length of stays and number of treatments. Check with the clinic about their success rates before making any decisions on entering the program.
General notes on psychedelic treatments.
- Yes everyone is different. I have been using mushrooms for over 20 years. I have been able to avoid most cycles but not all. If they start again, it can take a few doses again to break the cycle.
Usually if an episodic cycle is broken with mushrooms, it won’t come back until the next cycle is due to start again. Sometimes it isn’t just a clean break and you might need a few more doses as the cycle plays out but hopefully the mushrooms provide a lot more relief and cuts way down on intensity. Also, sometimes that first cycle you’re trying to break is more difficult (most likely from the different medications people have been on and for how long) Future cycles can often be broken more easily than the first. Its best to “be prepared” and not wait until August of you cycles start in September, to start asking questions about growing.
When to begin dosing with psychedelics
At the first hint of an oncoming new cycle, dose. If it continues to come on, dose again.
Chronics need a more regular schedule but can usually get the doses spread out over extended times.
- If you think the cycle has broken, most people can drink again without much trouble. If it’s only been a few days, alcohol can still trigger an attack. If you are continuing to show improvements but still not completely broken, its best to stay away from alcohol. The more attacks you trigger, the longer it takes to heal.
Why the 5 day wash out period and time between doses?
- When you are trying to set up guidelines that work best for the majority of people, many others will fall outside those boundaries. That doesn’t make the guideline any less appropriate or true.
- A lot of people ate a lot of mushrooms to determine some guidelines. 😉
- For best results, generally, 5 days is best. This was based upon a LOT of data collection a long time ago and continued monitoring in a less scientific way.
- Busting with psilocybin or LSD works to stop the attacks much longer than the chemicals are in your system. How and why this is possible isn’t known for sure although there are plenty of theories.
- Why does waiting 5 days work best? Does it work best?
- Yes and there are many reasons behind it. You try to account for these things when publishing “general rules” to go by.
- As someone said, if you’re just starting out and you have plenty of supplies, yes there are some reasons to wait a full 5 days after stopping “triptans” but that first dose “cant hurt” if taken early. Often times I suggest using the early doses to help wean off triptans if necessary. Some people just can’t break that cycle of using triptans. It can be a scary thought.
- If you talk to 100 people, you’ll hear 100 different stories. I’ve talked to thousands. It is one thing if you’ve been using triptans a few times a week for a couple of months. Its different if you’ve been using three shots a day for 3 years. It is one thing if you’ve been on a 5 day dose pack of prednisone. It’s another if you’ve been on 80mg for 45 days.
A few things the 5 days gives you, “generally” speaking.
After stopping triptans, it sometimes takes 3-4 days before your clusters settle down to your original baseline of attacks. Stop the shots and your attacks often will begin to lessen. Those 6 attacks a day go back to what was happening before you started using them. Maybe 2 attacks a day that last 45 minutes instead of 90. By waiting and allowing your neural pathways to get back to normal, and fewer hits, you will be taking on less of a challenge in stopping the attacks with psilocybin. You will be battling your clusters and not clusters made worse by the triptans.
The follow up 5 day waiting period allows you to see exactly how much progress the previous dose achieved. It takes 5 days for this. Following the dose, you many experience an increase in cluster activity for a couple of days. They will hopefully start to decrease after a few days and by day 5 you’ll know where you stand.
I know people that because of this increased activity early, start dosing every 3-4 days and never realize that had they waited, they would have found that their cluster cycle could have ended. Dosing too much can continue to “shake things up” when you don’t need to any more.
Waiting the 5 days gives your system more of a “shake up” and is more of a shock to the system. Maybe this plays a role in resetting the hypothalamus. Maybe not.
The triptans do block the receptors longer than they are in your system. Some meds “can” block for even longer. Part of this is how long you’ve been on the meds, at what doses, and each individual person. Prednisone can block for even longer than 5 days. Why is this? Who knows for sure. Is it that triptans can deform the receptors or in some way make it harder for the psychedelic transmitters to settle into the receptors? Is there a residual effect of the triptans and ergots and steroids that set the cycle into a deeper cycle that is harder to break? Maybe. It is true that if you dose at the beginning of a cycle before you’ve introduced any triptans or other chemicals to the process, psychedelics work much better at stopping the cycle in its tracks.
Another point regarding the 5 day initial detox and continuing to stay off triptans and the other blockers on the days between the doses. Regarding especially the triptans, again we know for sure that these medications cause additional attacks following administration. So, to take any shots after the first dose will cause the need for a longer waiting period before the second and any additional doses. In addition to this fact, it is my opinion, based upon some sound scientific truths, that these in-between doses of triptans are even worse than before the initial dose of psychedelics. People need to stay off the triptans once they start this procedure.
The additional hazard with in-between doses is that you will be adding more attacks in between the doses of psychedelics caused by the “come down” of the triptans. We know triptans cause more residual attacks. Adding attacks that wouldn’t be there between doses reaffirms the pain pathways for the clusters. I believe this slows the healing process needed to break the cycle.
I firmly believe that the less pain incurred during the period you are trying to break the cycle the better. The more pain involved (via attacks) keeps the pain pathways easier to pick up on the pain message trying to be sent. Therefore, if you’re adding attacks as follow ups to the triptans, you’re adding to the job needed to be done by the psychedelics. Using triptans during the process makes the process of breaking the cycle much more difficult, even beyond the other reasons for the 5 day waiting period.
Once you’ve started down the medication course, you are not only trying to stop the natural process of the cluster cycle but also how the body has changed these processes due to the introduction of synthetics like Imitrex?
We know Imitrex changes a cluster cycle and will make it last longer, be more intensive pain, and make attacks last longer. What is causing this neurological change to take place? This change certainly lasts longer than what you would think based solely upon “half-life” of the drugs. Imitrex isn’t the only one that can have this effect on a cycle.
Psychedelics work for longer than they are in your system. So do some of the meds we use. Since psilocybin and sumatriptan are molecularly similar, it’s reasonable to think they may affect the neurological transmitting system in similar ways for similar periods of time.
Waiting that first 5 days gives you a better chance to be working against your baseline cluster cycle and not a medicinally altered (for the worse) cluster cycle. Clear out your system, let it find itself, and then try to start healing it with psychedelics.
Blocking agents and Enhancers
Perhaps the most common culprits for ClusterBuster failure are the triptans, since they unfortunately are the most popular abortive treatments for cluster attacks. Sumatriptan (Imitrex) can stop an attack quickly, and it’s possible it foils the clusterbuster treatment more often than any other blocker. Other triptans are used less often, and there are fewer experiences, but for the sake of caution, these should also be avoided.
- Sumatriptan (Imitrex®)
- Zolmatriptan (Zomig®)
- Rizatriptan (Maxalt®)
- Naratriptan (Amerge®)
- Frovatriptan (Frova®)
- Almotriptan (Axert®)
- Eletriptan (Relpax®)
Steroids, the corticosteroids Prednisone and Prednisolone particularly, can be very effective at completely stopping cluster attacks while they are being used. They are also very effective at causing some nasty side effects, and most doctors prescribe them only for short periods in decreasing dosages. There are many reports that prednisone will block the clusterbuster treatment.
Verapamil and other calcium channel blockers
Verapamil is a blood-pressure drug often prescribed for the long-term, preventive treatment of clusters. Most reports seem to indicate verapamil and other calcium channel blockers will interfere with the clusterbuster treatment, though a few say they successfully used tryptamines while on verapamil, and some reports seem to indicate that it impeded but didn’t completely block the treatment. Verapamil is known by the brand names Isoptin, Verelan, Verelan PM, Calan, Bosoptin and Covera-HS.
So, it’s best to taper off Verapamil before dosing. If you can’t and decide to start the process while still on verapamil, it is possible to still break a cycle. If you seem to be getting close to breaking the cycle but just can’t get over the hump and completely break it, its best to then get off the verapamil and try to break it while off verapamil completely.
Topamax (topiramate) is another of those drugs developed for some other disease that clusterheads have found useful. Many find its side effects objectionable. There are indications it will block the effectiveness of tryptamines, as will other anti-seizure medications such as Depakote and Tegretol.
Opiates usually have little to no effect on clusters for most, but a few say the stuff works for them, and it is too-often prescribed by doctors in desperation or under the faulty assumption that such powerful pain killers must automatically work for painful “headaches.” There are many tales of emergency room doctors who are surprised and aghast when a shot of morphine has no effect on a cluster attack.
– the infamous addiction potential, while sometimes overstated, is real. It results in such medications becoming a target for theft. In any case the opiate and opioid pain killers seem to interfere with the cluster treatment. There are many in use; here is an incomplete list:
- Demerol (pethidine)
- Percoset (oxycodone)
- Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Vicodin (hydrocodone)
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
- Actiq (fentanyl)
- Duragesic (fentanyl)
- Suboxone (buprenorphine)
- Ultram (tramadol)
- Ultracet (tramadol)
Including but not limited to:
- Dihydroergotamine (DHE) (nasal sprays [migranal] and injections)
The molecules of these substances are very similar in shape to the tryptamines. This means they fill the same neuroreceptors as tryptamines, and interfere with the clusterbuster method. They can have some very serious side effects as well. They are powerful vasoconstrictors, and can cause bad circulation problems, particularly in the fingers and toes. Here is a great article on the discovery of Ergot’s and it becoming an important medical discovery.
SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, widely used to treat mood and other psychological disorders may be blockers, as they are involved with serotonin. The SSRIs include Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and Zoloft.
Other similar serotonin-affecting drugs include Effexor, Pristiq and Cymbalta. Drugs known as tricyclics, including Elevil and Tofranil. may also interfere with tryptamine treatment.
People taking lithium, whether it is for preventing cluster headaches or for some other reason (it is often prescribed for people with bipolar affective disorder – see below for more on bipolar disorder). Anecdotal reports suggest that lithium can greatly potentiate the effects of LSD or mushrooms, and that it can produce very unpleasant feelings. An examination of a number of reports suggested that lithium can either increase or decrease effects.
The combination of lithium and tryptamines may even produce episodes that seem like, and that perhaps are, epileptic seizures. If people are taking lithium for treating cluster headaches and it is not working, they may want to talk with their doctor about not taking it any more before trying mushrooms or LSD. If people are taking lithium for bipolar affective disorder, they probably should continue taking lithium, and they should avoid taking tryptamines for cluster headaches.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Nardil or Parnate are prescribed for depression and sometimes other conditions. They can block the action of enzymes that can break down some tryptamines, and as such may act to intensify the action of a given dose of tryptamine, especially when first taking tryptamines. However, after continued use (as perhaps after a month or more), MAOIs will tend to reduce the psychedelic effects of mushrooms and LSD. It is not known if long term use of MAOIs will interfere with tryptamine treatment of cluster headache, but it is possible.
There are substances which will probably not interfere with the actions of psilocybin:
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), aspirin (ASA), ibuprofen, Vioxx (rofecoxib), etc.
- antacids and anti-ulcer medications
- asthma medications
- caffeine/taurine energy drinks
- B-Complex and multi vitamins
- Diovan (blood pressure)
- protonix (for acid reflux)
- meclizine and dimenhydramine (The anti-nausea agents)
Want to know how long psilocybin will stay in your system?
Check out this link. As science often goes, it’s a complicated issue even though it’s a relatively short period of time.
Bob’s Busting Hacks
Busting refers to the process of using psychedelics as a treatment for cluster headaches. These types of treatments are also being used successfully to treat other headache disorders. The term busting is derived from the results that psychedelics have had in “busting a cycle” and ending it prematurely.
The use of these treatments began in 1998 and have since been used successfully by thousands of people worldwide.
There is a standard treatment plan that is a suggested starting point. These general guidelines can be found in the copyrighted document “Busting Clusters” which is available through the Clusterbuster Website. This standard has been refined over the years and is the most often used and successful treatment plan. This includes specific warnings that everyone should make themselves aware of as well as contraindicated medications and health issues, dosing schedules and the various choices of psychedelics.
The basic guidelines for Busting which work best for the vast majority of people using this method involve the following basics:
- Detox from the list of medications that can block the actions of the psychedelics for a minimum of 5 days prior to the first dose. Making the decision to stop all your cluster meds is usually the hardest decision you’ll make after deciding to try busting. Yes the first couple of days after stopping your meds like Imitrex may be a little rougher than usual. Part of this is psychological. Knowing you have something nearby to stop the attack (Imitrex) and not using it is a difficult thing to overcome. What almost everyone that has done this over the years has found out is that after the first couple days of detoxing, your attacks start to get better on their own. Attacks may come less often and/or be less severe. What is happening is that your cycle is going back to baseline. You’re returning to the days before you started using medications that can make your attacks worse and more frequent.
- Stay off all these blockers while people go through the dosing process.
- Leave 5 days between doses to clear all receptors so that the next dose will again attach to as many receptors as possible.
- Wait these 5 days between doses so that you get the best results and this time period also allows enough time to determine how much progress has been made with the previous dose.
- For chronics, after the first couple of doses, people are encouraged to try increasing the number of days between each dose. Try 5 days, 7 days, 10 days etc. Hoping to get to needing a dose once a month or longer.
Although this is the most successful scheduling and dosing, this doesn’t always work for everyone and just like with every other treatment, changes can be made to find a regimen that works best for them. For some people Verapamil works at 80mg a day. Others need up to 1200mg a day. Most people need to find a therapeutic dose through trial and error. No one is the same and no medication works the same way at the same doses for everyone. This is also true for the psychedelic treatments. We feel that there are many factors that come into play in each instance. It seems to depend upon things such as how long they have been using different prescription medications. If someone has been using a lot of sumatriptan for many years, a workable psychedelic treatment plan is harder to find than someone that has used very little. If you have questions about how to proceed from the beginning or if you have questions during your busting attempts, the best place to get answers and suggestions is our Clusterbusters’ message board. It has people on the board that have been using these treatments for years and helping others find relief. Go to the board and post your questions in the “Busting Stories” section. You’ll need to register so you can get into this private area. The link to the board is: https://clusterbusters.org/forums/
There are some tips that can help these treatments work better and get to a pain free time more quickly.
- Use only oxygen as an abortive once you’ve started treatments. Things like energy drinks are also well tolerated during the process without hampering the treatments. Do your best to stay away from any of your cluster prescription medications, especially the 4 major food groups: Triptans, Steroids, Ergotamines & opioids.
- Use oxygen as quickly as possible once an attack seems to be coming. The less pain you experience the better. It is felt that eliminating as much pain as possible will allow the pain pathways to heal more quickly. This “healing” starts to break the habit of the pain being triggered by the brain to immediately fall back into the same pattern. We are trying to teach the brain to use the correct pathways.
- More is not necessarily better. It’s best to try the lowest doses first and see what your lowest dose is that will produce an effect most likely to have positive results. What you are looking to feel from a dose is a light headed feeling where all the pressure in your head disappears. You should be able to feel the pain and pressure drain away. The hallucinogenic effects associated with this feeling the most would be slightly brighter colors and some enhanced stereo sound separation. The pressure free feeling should be the most apparent effect.
- Once you’ve broken a cycle, be sure to have a supply on hand so that you can take a maintenance dose either a couple weeks before your scheduled next cycle or at minimum taken at the first sign of a new cycle. Do not be caught off guard and without supplies. It’s much easier to avoid the next cycle with a proactive dose than to break the next cycle if you let it get a foothold again.
What to expect during and after the dose
Its not unusual to get an attack as the dose is wearing off. With mushrooms this is about 4-6 hours after dosing. LSD will take much longer and can last 12 hours. These attacks that occur after the dose wears off are not indicative of how well the treatment will eventually work for you.
Psychedelics do block cluster attacks from happening but it’s possible that you may even experience an attack during the dose but this is rare and in almost every case is altered and much less severe and shorter lasting. Just keep the oxygen around during and after the dose. Psychedelics are even better at blocking the neurological events occurring that build up to the attack. This is what is breaking the cycle. Stopping the build up before the attack. This is also what will appear to be a clearing of the head and pressure that goes with that. The important part of the busting process is stopping the events that build up to another attack more so than blocking an attack that has formed neurologically and about to attack.
What is the right dose amount?
What should you be looking for from the dose as far as effects that it produces? Most people start at a dose of 1g – 1.5g of dried magic mushrooms. Similarly, the starting dose of LSD is 100mcg (1 tab). You should adjust the dose based upon the affects you feel from the dose. You are looking for the following:
A. Brighter colors. Blue skies look very blue.
B. Slightly wavy flat surfaces. You may not notice this unless you stare at a flat surface.
C. Expanded stereo sounds. If you’re listening to music, the drummer may sound as if he is on your left while the guitarist is on your right, even if all the speakers are in front of you.
D. The physical affect you are looking for is a definite draining of pressure in your head. It will feel clearer than it has in years and absent of pressure.
If you’ve experienced these affects, stay at this dose. If you didn’t reach these levels of affect, you should slightly increase the next dose. Be careful with any increases. The effects of a dose do not increase on an even scale with the amount of increase. An example is that doubling the dose amount more than doubles the affects you will feel, by a lot. Increase doses by no more than 25% each time you feel the need to increase. (More on this below in Busting Hacks)
There are some options (Busting hacks) to try that have worked for others if the basic set of guidelines doesn’t work or doesn’t produce complete results.
Although finding the lowest effective dose is most often effective in breaking a cycle, this isn’t always what works for everyone. After trying this method, some people have tried different adjustments and ended up being successful:
- Escalating Dose 5 day Schedule
This method helps keep the receptors flooded with psilocybin and allows much higher doses without increasing the hallucinogenic effects.
We can take advantage of the fact that once you take a dose, your receptors will be blocked for several days.
Due to this blocking effect, some people have been successful breaking a cycle after a 5 day constant dosing schedule. You can increase the size of the dose each day with even less hallucinogenic effect. Be a little careful with the 2nd day increase to make sure that you are getting this usual blocking effect. Remember that everyone is different.
A typical escalating dose plan would go something like this.
Day one: 1.5gram dried mushrooms
Day two: 2.5 grams
Day 3: 4 grams
Day 4: 5 grams
Day 5: 6 gramsAfter day 5, take a break and see how you’re doing with progress for breaking the cycle.This method can also be used if your psychedelic of choice is LSD or LSA
- Changing it up
Some people have better results with different psychedelics. If one doesn’t work, try another of the options.
I would suggest getting a supply of LSA seeds to have on hand. They are very easy to obtain online and can be the first of the options you’ll be able to procure. They do work well for some people and even if they don’t work completely, you should be able to tell if these treatments will work for you. If you don’t get full relief, move up the ladder to mushrooms or LSD.LSD has the best results overall. If you’ve been using mushrooms and can’t quite get over the top and break the cycle, you can try to procure LSD and try dosing with that. One of the biggest issues with LSD vs Mushrooms is that you can’t grow your own LSD and if you grow your own mushrooms, you’ll always know what you have, where it came from, and will be the cheapest way to go forward as years go by.DMT is a tricky psychedelic to use as it is so powerful but the effects are short lived, as in 15 minutes. Starting out very low dose is recommended. It has always been thought that DMT might end up being the most effective in breaking cycles but very few people have either been able to access the drug or have been brave enough to go down that road. If you decide to try it, be sure to do plenty of reading on dosing and preparing for the dose. More on DMT below.
- Helpful during your dosing schedule:
If you’re having a difficult time getting thru the days between the doses, it’s possible to occasionally take a very small dose that can get you thru the day without completely blocking the next full dose. Its not the best way to go about this treatment but its better than taking an occasional dose of sumatriptan or giving up on the process completely.
- Try combination dosing.
People have been successful with combining a couple of different psychedelics after having less success with sticking to one.
One combination is psilocybin and MDMA. Adding a normal range dose of psilocybin such as 1.5g to a “normal” dose of MDMA will give a slightly more intense dose than a regular 1.5 dose of psilocybin alone.Another combination is adding DMT to a regular dose of psilocybin. Again the length of time of the effects from DMT will be very short. During the middle of the psilocybin dose (1.5 – 2 hours in) add a small dose od DMT. You definitely want to have a sitter with you to help.I would only suggest that people that are experienced in using only one psychedelic give this a try. You need to be confident in what you are doing and aware of what types of experiences different doses of say psilocybin have produced for you. Everyone is different and you need to have a good handle on your own dosing effects.Personally, I have had luck with both of these combination doses in breaking hard to break cycles.
- Adding helpful supplements
Although we normally recommend trying to get off of anything you’re taking to treat your clusters before attempting busting techniques, there are some supplements that can be help to add if you’re having a tough time breaking a cycle.
There are some things that can be helpful without messing with the set of neurotransmitters that busting requires to treat. The fewer attacks that you’re trying to treat, the better.
A. Add the entire D-3 regimen to your daily treatment plan.
B. See if Melatonin will help, especially with any nighttime attacks.
C. Adding 400mg of magnesium to your daily plan.
D. Check out our list of helpful aides found above in our Support Therapies section that won’t interfere with the busting. Try anything from Ginger tea to energy drinks.
January 31, 2020
Copyright © Clusterbusters inc, 2020
All rights reserved. Not to be republished or distributed without prior written approval from Clusterbusters, Inc.