Note: I am not advocating for you to do anything against your own moral code or illegal. This is just a quick post about how psilocyn literally saved my life by curing my cluster headaches.
How fungi saved my life.
Notes from a former cluster headache sufferer.
We've heard the cases for medical cannabis. People have been using cannabinoids for years now, helping them mitigate or outright cure a complexity of issues from chronic pain to seizures. My sister suffers from acute gran mal seizures, and has for years, medically diagnosed. When I say she uses it medicinally, I very much mean it.
So I'm no stranger to unorthodox treatment for peculiar ailments. Which brings me to the point of this post. I would like to tell you there is a legitimate medical use for a strange byproduct of some fungal species, psilocybin, and more specifically, psilocin, and its ability to mitigate and outright eliminate a rare neurological disease called cluster headaches. I have a personal account of this which I will gladly share below.
But don't just take my word for it. A bit of history before I tell my story.
House Season 3 Episode 23 "The Jerk"
House MD, television show
For people unfamiliar with the show House, it revolved around a doctor who would prescribe very unorthodox treatments for unique ailments that his patients suffered. In the 23rd episode of season 3, House has a patient suffering from acute localized migraine headaches. Believing them to be cluster/suicide headaches, he finally prescribes his patient 'magic mushrooms' on the downlow which cures him, at least to a point where it was manageable. An excerpt clipped from the show synopsis: He then asks Cuddy if he can give the patient psilocybin mushrooms to treat the cluster headache rather than doing exploratory surgery. Cuddy agrees if the mother consents.Chase explains the risks to the mother. The patient is all for the treatment and insists the mother consent as his pain is getting worse. They administer the mushrooms and the pain starts to go away.
Unfortunately for me in 2013 when my cluster headaches started, I didn't watch House, and I had no idea what a cluster headache even was. All I know was the symptoms of what happened. As I was sitting, clawing the left side of my head, weeping, I was desperately trying to find answers. I finally stumbled across the forums of the Clusterbusters, a group of sufferers who understand the sheer weight of this affliction and what it does to a person. I am so grateful for finding this site at that time. I found answers, but no solutions. That year I had to ride it out.
So, just how bad are cluster headaches? Well, their nickname are suicide headaches.
My story of suffering and triumph
Rewind to 2013. I'm driving home from work one early springtime day. Nothing feels out of the ordinary, I feel perfectly fine. But I suddenly start to feel a strange stiffness in my jawline. The best way to describe it is a feeling of lockjaw, but my mouth still movable. Strangely, it gets more intense on my drive home. Also strangely, it is only on my left side. Everything felt very strangely acutely localized to my left side of my jaw. No pain. Yet.
30 minutes after the jaw stiffness is when the fun begins. By fun, I mean pure torment. It is nothing short of an acute explosion of the most intense pain I've ever felt. Cluster headaches are very indescribable. You can find videos of people suffering, screaming in agony. Videos of sufferers hitting themselves in the head because striking their own head feels better than the headache inside. I have been there. These headaches really, truly, are that bad. I won't link any videos but they are out there. I have a hard time watching them.
To describe a cluster headache, I would say it is like this. Once the onset happens and the clustering begins, once about ever 4 hours you get to experience 1 hour of pure Hell. Jamming hot iron spikes through half of your brain, and leaving them there is a good description. Combine that with feeling like every single root on ever top tooth is screaming in pain as well. Like suddenly you have ALL the tooth pain, and your face, everything on half your head hurts without any real proper way to describe it, except Hell. You become unfunctional as you feel like screaming. It feels like every ounce of pain sensation, every single pain neuron that resides in one half of your brain turns on to 11. These long screaming headaches last for about 30-1hr of writhing, fluctuations of pain. Then you get about 3 hours before another one comes. Sleeping is a negative effect, so they trigger more often while you sleep, and will wake you up from REM5 deep sleep. There were several times I had to get out of bed from the dead of sleep, just to walk, to pace, holding my head, crying.
You get to repeat this pattern, every day, for weeks on end. There is no rest, respite from this. This is just as brutal mentally on a person as it is physically. You can't sleep, you don't want to sleep, you don't want to think, you don't want to move, and your thoughts get very very very dark. If you are lucky, the headaches finally reside, as quickly as they come, with a few possible flairups, after a few weeks. The longest I've gone was 6 weeks.
Including brain surgery.
My hero. My devil.
From 2013 til 2016, every springtime I would flair up. I think humidity in the air has something to do with it, as I did have a small flair up one autumn, but it is nothing pinpointable, nothing that I can firmly say is the cause or cluster trigger. Between 2013 and 2016 I learned a few things, such as this was a hereditary disease and my grandmother had it. She had surgery to remove all of her top teeth and completely numb the nerve cluster behind her cheek which causes the pain. I read of people opting for brain surgeries for acute sufferers, those who never got a break, or a release. But one thing I also learned, was psilocybin, 'magic mushrooms', were widely used as a cure, even with its own forum section on how to grow the least psychoactive mushrooms for daily consumption. There is still an article up about cluster busting while minimizing halleucenations.
I call magic mushrooms my hero and my devil because in 2016, using them led to one of the worse experiences of my life. I was a groomsman for an upcoming springtime wedding and 3 days prior, and I began to cluster bad. By this point I knew what was going on, what these headaches were, and I had researched enough into some potential cures to finally give magic mushrooms a try. I've experienced them twice before, recreationally, but never as a medical necessity. After 3 days of my clusters not subsiding, and with a wedding I must be functional for the next day, while in the midst of the worst headaches imaginable, I ingested a dose of "magic mushrooms." I believe it to have been between 6g-8g.
My Devil. There is a very good reason cluster headache sufferers want the least psychoactive substance possibly to minimize the condition. The night before the wedding I had to attend where I took the shrooms was really nothing short of a living Hell. Psilocyn doesn't instantly cure your condition. It minimizes it, but the effects are only realized over time. The absolute last thing you want to be doing while experiencing traumatic screaming anguish is hallucinating, which I was, all night long. It wasn't fun. It wasn't a party dude like totally! It was anguish in its purest form.
Many super chronic sufferers will do a method of growing their own mushrooms involving a baby food jar. This allows them to break the jar at harvest, slicing the fruit of the mushroom into thin wafers they then take like a pill. This minimizes cap growth, and helps to negate the psychoactive effect. Some of these poor souls suffer every day, so it really is a matter of sanity maintenance. I don't think anyone wants to live in a permanent state of hallucination.
My Hero. While not getting an ounce of sleep from the tortuous night before, the next day at the wedding, I was tired but all there. No headaches to report. And as of 2021, 5 years later, I have not had a single flair up. For a medical condition where I can not pinpoint a trigger, I think I have at least found a very promising solution. I pray that I never have them again, but if I ever do I know the first thing that I will try.
I wanted to share this story with the fungi lovers group. I feel like sharing my life advice might help others see the medicinal value that substances like this could really bring to the table. The negative stigma is so unfortunate as this substance is nothing akin to some of the more dangerous demonic addictive substances out there. Thank you for reading!