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Common Types of Headache and How to Treat Them Naturally, Part 2: Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are probably the most painful type of headache. They hit one side of the head, usually centralized around the eye, and come in waves or “clusters.”

Cluster Headache Considerations

Circadian hygiene: For decades, researchers have found repeated cases of circadian misalignment in patients suffering from cluster headaches.

  • In most people (without cluster headaches), melatonin and cortisol secretion are in kind of a dance with each other: as cortisol levels fall throughout the day, melatonin levels gradually rise; and as melatonin levels fall in the wee hours of the morning, cortisol levels shoot up. In cluster headache patients, there is no such synchronicity. Almost half show no evidence of melatonin or cortisol rhythm at all.

  • Headaches in general have a consistent relationship to sleep problems, and people with cluster headaches are more likely to report poor sleep. Headache frequency actually correlates with hours of darkness: increasing during late autumn and winter and then decreasing during spring and summer.

Psychedelics: Although rigorous trials are lacking. a number of surveys and case studies indicate that the classical psychedelics psilocybin (found in so-called "magic" mushrooms) and LSD may alleviate and reduce the severity of cluster headaches. In one, authors interviewed people who had treated their own cluster headaches with either micro-dosed LSD or psilocybin, finding the vast majority had derived major benefits from their experimentation. In a more recent survey of cluster headache sufferers, psilocybin, LSD, and LSA (a close relative of LSD with similar effects and mechanisms) appeared to be just as effective as conventional medicines, and often more so. The potential mechanism for such reported relief is the subject of intense investigation.

Sex hormone replacement: Cluster headaches frequently appear in people with low testosterone levels. When male cluster headache sufferers with low testosterone were given testosterone replacement therapy, symptoms improved-- and fully half experienced total remission.

Next week: arguably the mother of all headaches: migraines.

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