Take Two Shrooms and Call Me in the Morning: The Medical Promise of Magic Mushrooms

SIX YEARS AGO, on a late fall evening, I stood in front of a pinball machine, flummoxed. The game was space themed, with an elaborate UFO in the middle surrounded by a kaleidoscope of flashing lights. I was mesmerized, but I had no idea how to make it start. The machine’s coin slot and glowing buttons were suddenly indecipherable. Time felt like it had slowed to a crawl, and I became paranoid that the handful of people in the bar were staring at me, wondering what I was doing. It was then I realized that the magic mushrooms were kicking in.

This was the first time I’d taken a hallucinogen since my early twenties. Back then, as a university student, it was a lark. Now, in my forties with a family, the idea was daunting. This trip, however, had a medical purpose: for nearly two decades, I’ve struggled with a rare illness known as cluster headaches. Cluster headaches have been described as more painful than childbirth and kidney stones; they’re sometimes referred to as “suicide headaches” because of the mental toll they take. These headaches happen in groups—for me, they occur two or three times a day for weeks on end. Like migraines, they’re difficult to treat. Over the years, I’ve visited countless neurologists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and naturopaths. I’ve taken prescriptions and experimented with cleanses and diets. Nothing worked.

Then I stumbled onto Clusterbusters, a popular message board created by a fellow sufferer, where people around the world could swap advice. There was one tip that was gaining traction: multiple posters were reporting that, after they had consumed magic mushrooms, their headaches had abruptly—miraculously—stopped. I was in the midst of a headache cycle at the time and was desperate to stop the pain. I reached out to a long-time friend in Toronto, and not long afterward, we downed a handful of dry, fishy-tasting fungi in his newly renovated kitchen.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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