When people think of tryptamines such as psilocybin or LSD, they think of the psychedelic trip as the main effect of the substance. Since we are here to talk about treatments for cluster headaches, we will consider cluster relief as the main, medicinal effect; the psychedelic experience we’ll call side effects. These side effects can be significant and the clusterhead should be prepared.
The idea is to take an amount that will treat clusters without causing extreme side effects. It’s often said that it does not take more psilocybin mushrooms than will produce a high at about the same level as the buzz from two beers.
But psilocybin. LSA and the other tryptamines are powerful psychoactive drugs, and it’s wise to be prepared for a psychedelic experience. It can be hard to know how potent a natural substance is and it can be hard to predict the effects from taking a given amount.
It is better to prepare for a trip and not take one than it is to suddenly blast off without a seat belt.
While we try to avoid or minimize the psychedelic experience as much as possible, it’s important to prepare for it and to know what to expect. There are two important factors: set and setting. Set is the mindset, mood and expectations of the person taking the substance. Setting is the physical environment and situation in which the substance is taken.
This is about mental preparation and knowledge. If you feel confident in yourself and secure in your knowledge of the effects of the drug, you know the effects will end, there is no physical danger, and no lasting damage.
You will know that what your senses are telling you and what your mind is experiencing is not you at all and is not permanent, but only a drug that will wear off soon. We fear the unknown the most, and knowing what to expect can ease your mind.
There are times – certain sets of mind, when tryptamines should not be taken, times of emotional stress, grief or insecurity. See WARNINGS! Read this first: Warnings
A safe and familiar setting is best. You want as few surprises as possible. Arrange things so there is nothing important to be done, no authority figures to meet, no strangers to worry about. Many clusterheads like to dose on weekends, when there is plenty of time and privacy for the experience. This also provides adequate time between doses. See Shutting The Door
For most people, their own living room will be ideal – comfortable, safe and familiar. All your favorite toys are there, there’s food and drink in the kitchen and you know where the bathroom is.
Have a sober spouse or trusted friend there with you to run interference and help keep things calm.
Enjoy yourself. Get out your favorite music, or an upbeat movie you like. Settle into your favorite chair. Smile at your friends. Notice how sounds and sights become more vibrant and interesting, somehow. Music is richer and sweeter, colors are brighter. And jokes of any age or quality are downright hilarious.
How fast the effects are seen after taking the substance depends on how it is taken and other factors. It can take from 15 minutes to two hours for effects to start.
Having food in the stomach will slow down absorption, or even block it entirely (avoid fatty foods). Taking psilocybin mushroom tea on an empty stomach will show effects much faster.
Be careful about taking more if the effects don’t seem to kicking in. They may just be late, and you could end up taking more than you wanted to.
At the dosages effective for clusters, the psychedelic effects of psilocybin are mild, and will last from two to six hours. Vision may be affected. Colors may get brighter and seem to vibrate. Things may seem to wobble a little or take on patterned textures. Smiling and giggling at nothing is common. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery. Avoid job interviews.
Effects are most intense in the first hour or two, then they gradually wear off over the next few to several hours. Some people will feel a little dull or groggy the next day.
The trip level scale ranks the level of psychedelic experience from one (least) to five (most) in intensity. These treatments usually rank as a one or less, though some use dosages reaching a level two to battle a tough case.
Some have found that an herb called skullcap can have a calming effect when used with tryptamines, without interfering with the therapeutic effects on clusters. It is relatively inexpensive and can be bought from reputable health food and specialty vitamin stores in dried, loose form for making tea; ground and powdered in gel-caps; or as an extract.
The dried form can be made into a tea, about a teaspoon per cup, and taken 30 minutes or so before taking tryptamines. Some clusterheads say it reduces anxiety and smooths the psychedelic experience.
Skullcap should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Skullcap should not be taken if you are taking anti-anxiety medications, barbiturates, or other sedative medications.
Exceeding recommended doses of Skullcap produces giddiness, stupor, mental confusion, twitching, irregular heartbeat and epileptic-like symptoms.
– psychedelic drugs are not for everyone. Those with a history or tendency toward some mental illnesses must avoid tryptamine drugs, as they have been known to trigger psychosis in susceptible individuals. Some natural substances containing tryptamines could cause miscarriage, and it is wise to avoid taking any drug use during pregnancy except on the advice and consent of your physician. See WARNINGS! Read this first: Warnings
Some people report immediate and dramatic relief after dosing. Some report a satisfying “clear” feeling, or that a weight or pressure on the brain was suddenly released. Expected attacks might not happen, or be unaccountably brief, so the usual one-hour siege stops after five minutes. Everyone is different, and some report little apparent change at first, but then see significant change in the usual pattern of attacks over time, with a more gradual reduction in the number, length and intensity of the attacks.
The sense of extreme joy at the relief after dosing often turns to extreme dismay a half-day or a day or two later when the attacks return with a vengeance.
There is usually a “slap back” attack following the initial relief after dosing, and these attacks can sometimes be more severe than usual. More often, they are less severe or may differ from the usual pattern – coming at odd times or ending sooner or later than usual.
Don’t panic. Slap backs are a transitory effect, and some see them as a sign the tryptamine dose has affected the cluster cycle, and the effect will soon turn positive. Avoid using medications that might interfere with the tryptamine treatment, and try to rely only on buster-friendly treatments to get through the slap backs. See Coping
After the slap back attacks, the attacks may subside, then gradually begin to build again over the next few or several days. Rarely, a single dose will end a cycle, but usually the Beast returns, and more treatment is needed.
It may take two or three or several doses to break a cycle once it has arrived. Some may find they must dose repeatedly – once every week or two or three – to keep the beast away. Some find they can gradually extend the time between doses. They may have to continue dosing until the cycle will have ended as usual, or they may find two or three doses will end the cycle until the next cluster season comes around.
Effectiveness varies, but generally those with chronic clusters may find it harder to end the attacks completely, and will have continue dosing longer than those with episodic clusters.
While battling the beast it is critical to avoid any medications that interfere with the tryptamine treatment (Playing Well Together). Resorting to Imitrex or other triptans after dosing will cause the buster treatment to fail.
This can be difficult, especially if the treatment doesn’t seem to be working at first and big,
intense attacks keep coming. But it is important to stick to treatments such as oxygen to find relief for those attacks that come while using the method. Many have success with the SPUT method, using very small doses of mushrooms or seeds to stop individual attacks. See Coping