The Sanctuary Wellness Institute does not offer Psilocybin Therapy. This web page is meant for informational use only.
Psilocybin for Migraines
Migraines affect more than 10% of the US population. According to the World Health Organization, they are the world's sixth most disabling disease
Various treatments can help with migraine and cluster headache symptoms, but those treatments’ efficacy varies from person to person, and they often involve unpleasant side effects.
There's currently no cure for migraines or related headache disorders. However, emerging research indicates that microdosing psilocybin mushrooms may be a promising preventative treatment option.
The hallucinogen psilocybin is an active ingredient in magic mushrooms, which have psychoactive effects that have been used for recreational and religious purposes for centuries. Now neurology and healthcare researchers are discovering that psychedelic treatments may provide relief for people suffering from chronic migraine headaches, placing psilocybin alongside other psychedelic substances that have already demonstrated therapeutic potential like LSD, MDMA, and DMT.
What Are Migraines?
Migraines are neurological disorders that result in fatigue, light or sound sensitivity, severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The condition typically lasts 4–72 hours and occurs at least twice per month.
The exact causes of migraines aren't known, but they're thought to involve changes in brain chemistry.
Some studies suggest that migraines stem from abnormalities in serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, appetite, and sexual function.
Serotonin also influences blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, digestion, and muscle tone.
In addition, some evidence suggests that migraines may be triggered by inflammation in the brain. Inflammation has long been associated with migraines.
For example, it's often observed in patients who experience migraines after taking aspirin.
People with migraines often experience a wide range of debilitating symptoms, including;
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Difficulty concentrating
- Severe throbbing pain
- Sudden loss of vision
- Temporary paralysis
- Loss of balance
- Changes in mood
- Tingling sensations
These symptoms may last up to three days and occur several times per month. Many people with migraines also report feeling depressed, anxious, irritable, or angry during their attacks.
Traditional Migraine Treatments
While migraines can't be cured, various treatments may be effective. Some treatments require a doctor's prescription, but some can be accomplished with simple lifestyle changes.
Some migraine sufferers find relief through over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like naproxen, sodium, and acetaminophen.
Other common prescription medicines include triptans, such as sumatriptan, ergotamine/caffeine combinations, and serotonin receptor agonists.
If you're experiencing frequent migraines, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove blood vessels that feed the brain. This procedure, called endovascular occlusion therapy, involves inserting tiny coils into these arteries to block their flow.
This type of surgery has shown promise in treating migraines, but it's not always successful, and there are associated risks.
Many people who suffer from migraines benefit from psychotherapy, which includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques.
If you're experiencing migraines, psychotherapy can give you the tools to manage stress, which can trigger an attack. Meditation techniques may also allow you to recognize a migraine before it begins.
However, these treatments aren't always successful; your body may respond differently over time. Some people find that medication eventually stops working or may have unpleasant side effects.
Can Psilocybin Treat Migraines?
Over the years, there has been a lot of anecdotal data gathered about the therapeutic effects of psilocybin.
For instance, many people have reported that taking magic mushrooms before bedtime can reduce migraine frequency and severity, thereby improving both their physical and mental health.
However, researchers are just starting to investigate the possible uses of psilocybin in the treatment of migraines in clinical trials. A small study from 2021 asked 13 participants to keep headache diaries. They were given either a low dose of psilocybin or a placebo.
Those who took psilocybin took less traditional medication, experienced fewer migraine attacks, and experienced fewer severe migraines. There were no serious adverse effects reported either.
Researchers also report that the side effects of psilocybin were minimal and easily managed.
Other researchers have found similar results, with some reporting a 50% reduction in migraines. In addition, when people do experience headaches, their symptoms are often less severe after a single dose of psilocybin.
Why psilocybin helps with migraines and serves as a neurotherapeutic substance isn't entirely clear yet. However, it could work by altering how the brain processes sensory information.
Another possibility is that, as a psychedelic drug, psilocybin acts on specific receptors in the brain. These receptors release neurotransmitters, which are substances that let neurons communicate with one another.
How to Prevent Migraines?
Migraines may be triggered by sensory overload, so you can do a few things to prevent them.
Identify what situations trigger your headaches, then avoid those situations.
For example, if you know that you get migraines when you eat spicy foods, try eating bland meals instead. Also, some people get migraines when they don't get enough sleep or are around bright, flashing lights.
Regular exercise has been demonstrated to lessen migraine frequency and intensity. Exercise also increases levels of dopamine, which may help relieve tension and anxiety. For many people, stress and anxiety are powerful migraine triggers.
Reduce your stress levels
High stress can also trigger painful migraines. Simplifying your life, talking to someone about your feelings, and developing tools to manage stress can be essential for preventing migraines. Sometimes, this might involve changing careers or moving to a new city.
Some medications can help prevent migraines. Examples include beta blockers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
For some people, the regular medication reduces migraines' frequency, while others may benefit from taking medicine just before a migraine sets in.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you're living with migraines, below are answers to some questions you may have about psilocybin treatments and how to minimize your symptoms.
A recent article published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests that there are no clear indications that psilocybin can cause migraines.
This conclusion came from a review of studies that examined the relationship between psilocybin use and migraine attacks.
The authors concluded that previous research had been inconclusive about whether psilocybin caused migraines. In addition, some studies showed that people who used psilocybin did not experience more frequent headaches than those who took placebos.
Migraines can cause permanent neurological damage, including lesions. Lesions are small areas of damaged or injured tissue. They can occur after a person experiences repeated episodes of migraines over time.
Some lesions don't cause symptoms, while others lead to vision problems, hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and other issues.
In rare cases, lesions can cause seizures or stroke.
A cold compress to the head or neck can constrict blood vessels and reduce pain signal transmission. In addition, some studies have shown applying a cold cloth, or ice pack can help keep a migraine from developing.
According to some studies, patients who experience migraines are more likely to develop dissociative disorders such as depersonalization disorder (DPD) and derealization disorder (DD).
An altered sense of self-identity, memory loss, and changes in perception characterize dissociative disorders.
There is no single surefire way to escape “migraine days” quickly. However, some people find relief from certain activities, like taking a hot shower or lying down. Other people find comfort in over-the-counter medications and the psychedelic effects of psilocybin.
If you travel to the state, do not bring your medical marijuana. It remains illegal to cross state lines with cannabis.