Cluster headaches are among the most painful human illnesses (experts have suggested that they may be the most painful condition known to medical science) and involve excruciating pain that occurs in ‘clusters’ or ‘bouts’ of several weeks, followed by headache-free periods. These headaches are far more painful than migraines, and can cause significant suffering and severely affect quality of life. In fact, they have been called ‘suicide headaches’ as a result of the high rate of sufferers who take their own lives. Cluster headaches affect ~1-2 in 1000 people.

Currently there are some treatment options, but none eliminate the headaches completely or help all patients. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin can help. To formally investigate this, Schindler et al. (2015) surveyed 496 cluster-headache sufferers around the world who had self-administered psychedelics in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. The majority reported that psychedelics  shortened/aborted a cluster period. LSD and psilocybin were also better at preventing future attacks than conventional medicines.

Bromo-LSD for Cluster Headaches

In collaboration with Profs Matthias Karst and Torsten Passie at the Hannover Medical School, we demonstrated that non-psychoactive lysergamide compounds could also be promising. Our pilot, open-label study investigated the effectiveness of bromo-LSD (a non-psychoactive analogue of LSD), and demonstrated that three doses of this compound could either break a cluster headache cycle or considerably improve the frequency and intensity of attacks. The goal of this research is to increase our understanding of the underlying causes of cluster headaches, and also to develop a treatment plan using Bromo-LSD. The results of this initial study provide real hope for suffers of cluster headaches by decreasing the severity and duration and frequency of their attacks.


The non-hallucinogen 2-bromo-lysergic acid diethylamide as preventative treatment for cluster headache: An open, non-randomized case series

Cephalalgia:an international journal of headache, 2010

Read more

jump to other clinical applications