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Psilocybin and Migraine: First of Its Kind Trial Reports Promising Results

An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Atlas: 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.

A new study, published in the journal Neurotherapeutics, is offering the first double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study on the effects of a moderate psilocybin dose on migraine frequency and severity. The research is only preliminary and small but its results are deeply encouraging. 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.”

Perhaps the most intriguing finding from this small study was the lack of any correlation between the subjective strength of the psychedelic experience and the therapeutic effect. Prior trials using psilocybin to treat depression or addiction have suggested the overwhelming magnitude of a psychedelic experience seems to be fundamentally entwined with its therapeutic efficacy. So essentially, the more powerful the experience the better the result. But unexpectedly, this migraine/psilocybin trial did not detect that association. In fact, those subjects reporting the highest scores on a self-reported altered state of consciousness scale showed some of the smaller reductions in migraine burden. What this intriguingly suggests is that, in the case of psilocybin for migraine, it may be possible to separate out the drug’s psychotropic effects from its therapeutic effects. This could be achieved either by exploring microdoses and sub-hallucinogenic doses, or even homing in on the mechanism by which the drug is helping prevent migraines and finding a new way to pharmacologically target it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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