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Research and History

A Summary of Clusterbusters’ Research

  • A 2006 study conducted at Harvard Medical School found remarkable results in CH patients and LSD or psilocybin mushrooms:
    • Psilocybin reports:
      • 22 of 26 patients said psilocybin aborted their attacks.
      • 25 of 48 patients said cluster cycle was terminated.
      • 18 of 19 patients said psilocybin extended their remission periods.
    • LSD reports:
      • 7 of 8 patients reported LSD terminated cluster cycle.
      • 4 of 5 patients said LSD extended remission periods.
  • A 2017 qualitative thematic analysis of user accounts in forum discussions found:
    • CH patients consider illegal psychoactive substances as a last resort.
    • There is little to no interest in the psychoactive impact of these compounds.
    • Patients choose sub-psychoactive doses to avoid or limit the “trip” effect.
  • Patients reported prophylactic and acute treatment for cluster headache using psychedelic tryptamines: LSD and psilocybin mushrooms.

Tryptamines and Clusterbusters: A Historical Summary

The first use of tryptamines to treat cluster headache in recent years was reported to the clusterheadaches.com message board in 1998 by a fellow calling himself Flash. Following some intense debate and discussion, others began trying Flash’s idea and reporting their experience on the message board.

A participant on the message board collected the discussions and reports of tryptamine treatments and posted them on what is now the clusterbusters.org website. Another participant began rearranging these discussions to better follow each individual’s reports on the treatment, and then began collecting reports as they appeared on the clusterheadaches.com message board. He continued this for several years and compiled a database of the reports and results.
The results from this collection of stories do not represent a scientific study. They are based on voluntary reports by unknown people using screen names to post to an online discussion board.
The compiler of these reports was careful to include every report, whether the results were favorable or unfavorable, detailed or vague. He was careful to make a conservative judgement and use his best efforts to determine the meaning and results of these reports.

Most of the reports collected are stored in an anonymous archive maintained by Clusterbusters—all reports showing negative results are included, and most of the positive reports—only a few of the positive have been skipped because of extreme brevity and lack of useful information. Very few were dropped from the archive by requests for confidentiality, or because of suspected pranksterism.

The compiler tracked the results, being conservative in deciding whether a report is positive, and keeping track of all reports, whether or not a result was noted.

Reports of the tryptamines not showing significant relief were counted as negative reports. Reports from those showing relief, but where the individuals stopped using the treatments for other reasons, were also counted as negative.

The tables below show the numbers. The columns list results from all reporters, from those indicating they have the chronic or episodic types of clusters, and those whose reports don’t indicate having either type.

The “POS” row shows those reporting significant relief, “NEG” row includes reports of little or no relief or abandonment of the treatment for other reasons. “INDT” for indeterminate, are reports from which the results are unclear of the individual simply doesn’t say.

The table below shows the results reported from those using psilocybin, LSA seeds (RC or HBWR), and those using LSD, and a few who smoked DMT or drank ayahuasca.

The large number of indeterminate reports are a real problem when trying to use this information to assess the effectiveness of the treatment, and the archived stories are only meant to record experiences and not provide a valid survey of effectiveness.

Some people reported starting the treatment but did not follow up with reporting results. Others posted to ask for advice, then discontinued posting after their questions were answered. Some incomplete reports may be indicative of unsuccessful treatment, however, when some individuals returned to posting a few years later, they reported having had favorable results.
To adjust for these inconsistencies and provide an estimate of effectiveness, the compiler omitted the indeterminate reports in the first table below.

The second table shows an attempt to combine the indeterminate reports with the known results in various ways – distributing them to the positive or negative results categories. The “DIST 50/50” columns show the results when half of the indeterminates are assigned to each of the positive and negative categories.

The “ALL NEG” column counts all the indeterminates as negative, and the “ALL POS” columns counts them all as positive. The last column shows the range of percentages assigned to positive and negative.



in Treatment Options

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