A first-of-its-kind exploratory study, led by researchers from Yale School of Medicine, has found a single dose of the psychedelic psilocybin can reduce migraine frequency by 50 percent for a least two weeks. The preliminary trial was small, with follow-up work necessary to validate the results, but the promising findings suggest great potential for psychedelics to treat migraines and cluster headaches.
Of course, all this research froze by the early 1970s as psychedelic drugs were criminalized and rendered taboo. It wasn’t really until the early years of the 21st century that the research restarted, and most modern psychedelic research has primarily focused on the drugs as adjuncts to psychotherapy, targeting conditions such as depression, addiction and PTSD.
Although official psychedelic investigations were in a state of deep freeze, out in the real world people continued to experiment with these drugs, self-treating for a number of conditions. Several surveys of these real-world applications revealed an abundance of cluster headache and migraine patients experimenting with LSD and psilocybin.
Ten migraine sufferers were recruited for the trial. Each subject completed two sessions, one with a placebo and one with a moderate psilocybin dose. Headache diaries were used to track headache frequency and severity in the two weeks leading up to, and following, each experimental session.
“Compared to placebo, a single administration of psilocybin reduced migraine frequency by about half over the two weeks measured,” explains corresponding author on the new study Emmanuelle Schindler, in an email to New Atlas. ”In addition, when migraine attacks did occur in those two weeks, pain intensity and functional impairment during attacks were reduced by approximately 30 percent each.”