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Bob Wold spent 20 years trying 70 drugs in an attempt to treat his debilitating cluster headaches.
It wasn't until he tried "magic" mushrooms, a psychedelic drug, that he found relief.
The FDA approved the first-ever cluster headache drug in 2019, but psychedelics may be an alternate solution.
Bob Wold was so desperate to treat his chronic cluster headaches, he spent two decades trying 70 prescription drugs and searching for a solution.
65-year-old Wold told Ellison he's experienced cluster headaches - a type of relenting migraine that makes a person's eyes feel on fire and their heads feel near explosion - for 40 years. Cluster headaches get their name because they come in intense bursts throughout the day, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
For Wold, that meant enduring an hour-long headache four or more times daily.
So when Wold tried a one-gram microdose of "magic" mushrooms 20 years ago, something he'd previously written off as a substance for stoners, he was shocked in the best way.
He and other self-identifying "clusterheads" later pushed the FDA to approve the first-ever injectable treatment for cluster headaches in June 2019, called Emgality. Still, there's more research to be done on the potential for psilocybin to treat the condition, and Yale University neurologist Emmanuelle Schindler is gearing up to study its efficacy later this year. Researchers have already studied psilocybin in clinical trials and have found its potential to treat anxiety, depression, and obesity, Insider previously reported.
'You will eat shoe polish if you think it would help'
The excruciating nature of cluster headaches leaves sufferers desperate for a solution.
"You will eat shoe polish if you think it would help," one person with cluster headaches told Yale University researchers of their fruitless search for effective treatment.
Other respondents to the Yale survey said the headaches felt worse than childbirth, gunshot wounds, and kidney stones.
The inescapable pain makes cluster-headache sufferers three times more likely to commit suicide than the general public, University of West Georgia psychologist Larry Schor told Washington Post.
Schor has experienced cluster headaches himself since 1983.
"The pain is so intense that I've had some seemingly psychotic thoughts during attacks. Like maybe if I could take a pliers and start pulling out molars, or if I hammered in the smallest drill bit near my eye, that could relieve the pressure," Schor told Ellison.
Psychedelics could offer alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs
When the FDA approved Emgality, it offered a sense of relief for clusterheads. But the drug can come with side effects like weight gain, hair loss, joint pain, and brain fog that discourages some from using it.
Psychedelics like psilocybin, then, could provide an alternate treatment option.
Wold told Washington Post he's shared his psychedelic treatment tips with his Facebook community and many have also reported positive results.
"We're constantly getting thank-you notes from as far away as Romania, saying things like 'I've been using psilocybin for 15 years and it saved my life,' " Wold said.
Read the original article on Insider