- How much?
- Dosing to Stop Attacks
- Shutting the Door
- The Preparation
- The Medicinal Effects
Most people who eat shrooms do it to get high – for fun, for self exploration, or for spiritual reasons. Treating headache disorders requires much less than needed for recreational or spiritual purposes.
Fresh mushrooms are mostly water, and dried mushrooms weigh only about a tenth as much as fresh. This is important when determining the size of a dose. For the common cubensis species of mushroom, recreational users will take two or three grams of dried mushroom, or 20 to 30 grams of fresh mushrooms. Migraine treatment requires half that amount, or even less. About one gram of dried cubensis is often used for a dose. Everyone is different so the range for a cubensis dose will normally fall within 0.5 grams & 1.5 grams. With more powerful species such as Psilocybe azurescens or Psilocybe cyanescens, a quarter or half a gram will be enough.
You will need to accurately measure amounts as small as a tenth of a gram, and the necessary scales can be purchased reasonably online. It’s hard to get an accurate measurement of natural substances – natural things vary, and mushrooms can vary in the amount of active ingredient, even between two samples of the same species, the same batch and even the same plant or mushroom. Psilocybin will degrade over time, and how much they degrade depends on how they are stored.
The idea is to take enough to be effective against migraines without going on a significant trip. One way to gauge the proper dose is by the psychoactive effects it produces. It’s often said you need as much as to make it feel like you drank two beers. Of course the effects of psilocybin have a much different quality that that of beer, but the general level of intoxication should be similar.
To help describe the intensity of a psychedelic experience, the folks at Erowid have a rough scale of zero to 5 called the Trip Level. A medicinal dose of psilocybin ranks between a trip level 0.5 and 1.
If colors seem a little brighter, more vivid, and if things seem to have a slight glow and, if jokes seem a little funnier, that’s a sign the psilocybin is having about the right amount of effect. If trees are suddenly blooming with multicolored flowers that rotate and shoot laser beams at the heavens to illuminate God, the dose was probably a good bit larger than needed for migraine treatment. Taking large, mind-bending doses of psilocybin doesn’t seem to be more effective than using a low to moderate dose, and there is some anecdotal evidence suggesting it might be less effective.
It is important to stay away from interfering meds after the tryptamine dose as well as before. Often there are attacks a little while after a tryptamine treatment, but resorting to Imitrex or other interfering meds can cause the treatment to fail.
The conservative rule of thumb is to wait five days:
Wait five days after stopping Imitrex or verapamil, for example.
Wait five days after dosing before returning to conventional meds such as Imitrex, etc.
Wait five days between doses of tryptamines.
DOSING TO STOP ATTACKS
Some people living with migraine have found relief using very small doses of tryptamines to stop individual attacks.
When attempting to break a cycle they noticed that dosing with mushrooms would stop an attack in its tracks. But at cycle-breaking dosages, the “shutting the door” effect can block the effectiveness of subsequent doses for four or five days. See SHUTTING THE DOOR: Shutting Door
A little experimentation showed that using a very small dose would not trigger the shutting-door effect, and could be repeated as attacks occurred. At such small amounts, there would be little or no psychedelic effects at all.
The first experiments with this idea involved placing a small piece of mushroom under the tongue and holding it there, and this method was dubbed the SPUT method, for “Small Piece Under Tongue.” The tissues inside the mouth can absorb substances and get them into the bloodstream without going through the stomach, and can get them in much more quickly than swallowing the substance.
Some were soon reporting they could stop an attack in 10 to 20 minutes by placing a little bit of mushroom under the tongue and sucking on it. The taste is bad, but in comparison to a long migraine attack, it might as well be ambrosia.
The technique also works with mushroom tea by holding a small amount of liquid in the mouth and slurping it around as long as possible.
None of these methods are likely to be a gourmet taste treat. A small glass of cranberry juice or other strongly flavored beverage of your choice can help flush out the foul taste afterwards.
We have learned that there are many factors involved in determining the most effective dose amounts, dosing schedules and other treatment variations for each individual person. The common refrain of “everyone is different” applies to cluster headache treatments and it is evident from anecdotal reports that the same holds true in migraine disease.
Some of these differences are the number of attacks per month, how many years you’ve had migraine disease and how many years you’ve been using medications to treat your migraine disease. Comorbid conditions and the medications used to treat them can also have an effect. One of the most attractive aspects of using psychedelics, besides the relief they can provide, is that these types of medications are not taken on a daily basis. A person may initially require a dose as often as once every 5 days, but once a therapeutic dose level is established, some can decrease to a couple doses per year. The goal when using psychedelics is to keep the dose amount as small as possible and use as few doses as possible to attain and maintain relief..
Many medications used for prevention need to build up to a therapeutic dose and then that level needs to be maintained by replacing it as it leaves the body.
SHUTTING THE DOOR
Tryptamines are not a daily medication – a dose of medication is typically taken every five days or once a week. Most people will have to wait several days after a first dose before a second dose will have much effect. We call it “shutting the door.” It is a kind of tolerance effect, though a very large one.
Depending on the size of the dose, the “shutting the door” effect kicks in after about a half hour after the tryptamine reaches the brain. If it seems the dose was too small to be effective, it will not help to take another an hour or more later. Also, sometimes it takes a while for the dose to reach the brain, so taking more too soon can lead to an unexpected and undesired experience – and it’s a waste of medicine.
The high-tolerance effect is well-known; why it happens is not. One guess involves tryptamine molecules that bind to certain receptors in the brain. They nestle snugly in and trigger a reaction in the receptor sites, “shutting the door” behind them. Not only does the door shut on the sites that contain tryptamine molecules already, but on all other sites anywhere in the brain capable of accepting similar molecules. It’s not instantaneous, but it is fairly rapid, taking maybe twenty minutes to a half-hour or so.
These doors remain shut until all the tryptamine molecules have broken down (around 12 to 20 hours) and then the doors gradually start to reopen. This can take days and is why veteran “acidheads” back in the 1960s would only dose once a week or so. Some individuals can dose with only a three-day break, others need as much as a week. A good compromise for is to stick with the recommended five days.
This door-shutting mechanism applies to any other tryptamine hallucinogen for that given time period. That is to say, if you take some mushrooms Friday night, then take some LSD on Saturday night, the LSD will have little or no effect at all. Methysergide (Sansert) and other ergot compounds such as ergotamine and dihydroergotamine (DHE) will also shut the door. Due to the marked similarity between the various triptans (Imitrex, Amerge, etc.) and psilocybin, they will also shut the door for at least as long as they remain in the body, and probably for some time after that.
The bottom line: it is essential to wait 4 or 5 days between tryptamine doses, and to avoid all other known blocking medications during that time as well.
While the door is closed…
It can be hard to wait when there are still migraine attacks, but using large preventive doses of tryptamine close together will do little to relieve migraines and by keeping the door slammed, will extend the time it takes to manage your migraine.
The preparation (Preparing psilocybin for dosing)
Mushrooms can be eaten whole, eaten in small pieces, chopped up and placed in capsules, soaked in honey and consumed along with the honey, covered in chocolate, or made into a tea. Any of these methods are about equal in effectiveness.
The main challenge in swallowing down mushrooms is keeping them down. Shrooms are famous for the mild nausea they can produce, but this effect can be avoided by using tea or mushroom powder packed into capsules. For best absorption, take the mushrooms or tea on an empty or nearly-empty stomach. Eating fatty or greasy foods can coat the stomach and prevent absorption of the psilocybin.
Some just chew up the mushrooms, or chop them up and chase them down with water. But some people find the taste of psilocybin mushrooms very disagreeable, and prefer to ingest them in a manner that disguises or minimizes the taste.
Making mushroom tea is a very controllable and tolerable way of ingesting psilocybin. The mushrooms should be kept whole and in storage until just before making the tea. The shrooms should be finely chopped and soaked in hot water – not boiling – 10 minutes or so. To extract as much active ingredient from the mushroom bits as possible, the mushroom bits should be strained out and the steep repeated in fresh water. All the steeped water should be saved and mixed together.
The basic tea can be made ahead of time and stored in a refrigerator for a week or two, or much longer if frozen. A blue or greenish-blue color is normal. Discard if it gets cloudy or looks funny. Some like to mix in other ingredients to further mask the taste and speed absorption into the body.
Since various mushroom parts and individual mushrooms can vary in potency, making tea evens out these variations for a more predictable dosage. Also, dividing a liquid into equal or specific amounts is much easier and can be done more accurately than with dried mushrooms.
Some prefer grinding dried mushrooms into a powder, loading the powder into gelatin capsules and swallowing the capsule. This avoids the bad taste, but does not speed absorption.
THE MEDICINAL EFFECTS
Some people report immediate and dramatic relief after dosing. Some report a satisfying “clear” feeling, or that a weight or pressure on the brain was suddenly released. Expected attacks might not happen, or be unaccountably brief, so the usual hours-long siege stops after five minutes. Everyone is different, and some report little apparent change at first, but then see significant change in the usual pattern of attacks over time, with a more gradual reduction in the number, length and intensity of the attacks.
The slap back (?)
There is sometimes a “slap back” attack following the initial relief after dosing, and these attacks can sometimes be more severe than usual. More often, they are less severe or may differ from the usual pattern – coming at odd times or ending sooner or later than usual.
Don’t panic. Slap backs are a transitory effect, and some see them as a sign the tryptamine dose has affected the migraines, and the effect will soon turn positive. Avoid using medications that might interfere with the tryptamine treatment, and try to rely only on buster-friendly treatments to get through the slap backs.
Long term (Potential long term impact of psilocybin)
After the slap back attacks, the attacks may subside, then gradually begin to build again over the next few or several days.
It may take two or three or several doses to get long term relief. Some may find they must dose repeatedly – once every week or two or three – to keep the migraines away. Some find they can gradually extend the time between doses.