NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Could relief for migraines and cluster headaches come not just from pharmaceuticals, but nature as well?
The active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms is a compound called psilocybin. Instead of harnessing its psychedelic results, researchers at Yale School of Medicine tested very small doses of psilocybin on people with crippling headaches. Psilocybin also affects people’s serotonin levels.
“Over the next two weeks the likelihood of having a migraine attack was greatly reduced,” said Dr. Christopher Gottschalk, professor at Yale School of Medicine.
Gottschalk said the small dosages resulted in patients having six fewer headaches a month, a big break for those who suffer.
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Yale physician Emmanuelle Shindler, the only researcher in the U.S. studying psychedelics on headache disorders, is leading the research.
One promising finding is that the study does not involve daily microdosing.
“You take two or three doses in a row spaced apart a few days and can then have complete cessation of further attacks,” said Gottschalk, who said the results should last for two weeks.
Gottschalk said the findings could be “a life-changing experience” for people who suffer from cluster headaches. He said, unlike this mushroom research, current headache medications on the market are pills or injectables that can remain in the bloodstream for a month and can have side effects.
Research is early and an FDA-approved treatment could be years from approval, but it is some hope for relief.
“So all of this is tantalizing new information about ways that we could be treating headache disorders in the future,” Gottschalk said.