The magic of psilocybin
Let’s face it. Migraines are a pain in the neck and at least one other place I can think of. Psychedelics are back in vogue, and research in the field is mushrooming (pun intended). Researchers claim a single dose of psilocybin may be useful in treating migraines. New studies of such hallucinogenic drugs as psilocybin, LSD and MDMA have demonstrated therapeutic effects on conditions including major depression, anxiety, and addiction disorders. What’s more, a single moderate dose can provide long-lasting therapeutic benefits for people suffering from cancer, depression and anxiety. I’ve had some experience with “magic mushrooms,” but I’ll mention that later. First, let’s look at what new research is saying about using psilocybin to treat migraines.
Migraines suck big time
Migraines are ranked as the world’s sixth most debilitating illness. They are difficult to treat, and the outcome varies from person to person. Even successful treatments sometimes produce unpleasant side effects. And as it stands right now, there’s no cure for migraines. Treatments cover everything from prescription drugs to over-the-counter medications to home remedies. This is where psychedelics come into the picture. Psychedelics are just another type of home remedy. Anecdotal evidence has existed for decades that LSD and psilocybin may help prevent or alleviate migraines. After all, they’re pharmacologically similar to migraine medications like dihydroergotamine. To put that anecdotal evidence to the test, the researchers studied seven women and three men in a placebo-controlled study. Participants, all of whom suffered at least two migraines a week, were given a moderate dose of pure synthetic psilocybin.
Two weeks after taking the psilocybin, most participants reported significant decreases in migraines compared to baseline and the placebo session. Interestingly, these reductions weren’t correlated with how strongly the participants felt the psychedelic effects of psilocybin. Migraine sufferers can benefit from psilocybin without taking a large dose and potentially experiencing its intense and unpleasant hallucinogenic effects. Better yet, the therapeutic effects lasted at least two weeks after a single dose, while other migraine medications must be taken regularly. The researchers are quick to point out that more research is needed: “While encouraged by the findings in this exploratory study, before this approach could be used clinically, it is imperative that additional controlled investigations be completed in order to understand psilocybin’s full capacity to suppress migraine, as well as its long-term safety and tolerability. To verify the present findings, researchers will need to replicate the results of this study in a larger sample under a fully randomized design. Studies with a dose range will inform on whether the effects of psilocybin in migraine are dose-dependent.” Now, let’s look at my Bali experience with psilocybin.
My experience with “magic mushrooms”
I stopped in Bali on my way to Australia, quickly checked in to my “budget hotel,” threw my backpack in my room, deposited my key with the receptionist and headed to the closest outdoor restaurant/pub I could find. I stumbled upon the perfect place right on the beach after walking about 15 minutes. The place seemed empty, but I didn’t care. I was jet-lagged and hungry. My plan was to eat, drink and go back to the hotel and sleep. But even the simplest and best-laid plans don’t survive contact with the “enemy.” The enemy, in this case, was two truckloads of inebriated Aussies on an epic pub crawl – apparently a “must-do” when in Kuta Beach. They swarmed in and occupied the entire restaurant and then invited me to join them. Many hours later, I found myself alone, shitfaced and with no idea where I was or where my hotel was. I did what any “mature” 40-year-old would do in this case and headed for the beach to get some sleep. I woke when the waves began to lap at my feet and the tropical sun was beating down on my winter-white body, which was now clad only in shorts. I still don’t know what happened to my T-shirt. Maybe I lost in some sort of “old-guys go wild” wet T-shirt contest.
Looking for breakfast
I set out to find my hotel. I knew it was across the street from the beach, so I chose a direction and began searching for my accommodation. The universe was smiling at me. After about one hour of walking/stumbling (still very drunk), I recognized my humble abode. I collected my room key, put on a T-shirt and went to find somewhere to eat a desperately needed breakfast. I found a quaint little place that offered great breakfasts. The “Kuta Special Omelet” sounded fantastic, so I ordered one and began pouring coffee down my throat. The omelet was excellent but had a taste that was familiar but couldn’t quite identify. I didn’t care at that point and devoured it like a mad man. Once back at the hotel, the pool beckoned for some reason. I later realized why. My special omelet was indeed special and chock full of “magic mushrooms.” As I entered a state that I had entered in decades (my university years studying cultural anthropology in Arizona), the bliss of doing nothing but floating in the pool for the rest of the day was irresistible. So that’s what I did – pale skin and all. The result was a wonderful day observing cloud formations and pondering life in general for insights. It also resulted in the worst sunburn ever. I took a couple of days off from the beach, pool and sun but not from my favorite breakfast place and favorite omelet. Little did I know that decades later mainstream science would start to see the potential of “magic mushrooms” for treating migraines. Why did it take them so long?