resetting the brain

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Posted by pinksharkmark ( on October 10, 2000 at 15:51:27:

In Reply to: Yeah I used to go on Dead tours posted by Ted on October 10, 2000 at 13:40:25:

One of the biggest mysteries associated with CH is the fact that the vast majority of us are episodic. We go for months and even years at a time without a CH. When we are not in cycle, there is nothing we can do to induce a CH.

Sooner or later, though, the hypothalamus gets out of whack, and starts sending incorrect signals. Serotonin production is no longer regulated properly, and we enter a new cycle.

Eventually, the hypothalamus starts behaving itself again, serotonin regulation returns to normal, and the cycle ends.

So, in an unmedicated state, the hypothalamus "resets" itself. In other words, it returns to its normal state of operation. For some of us this return to normalcy is gradual, taking days or weeks for the CHs to vanish completely. For some of us it can happen literally overnight. The important fact is that (for episodic clusterheads) regardless of the length of time it takes, the hypothalamus DOES eventually "reset", whether medication is used or not.

Why does it reset itself? Why did it get out of whack in the first place? I don't have answers to these questions.

I believe that the standard preventative meds DON'T cause the hypothalamus to reset itself. I believe that verapamil, topomax, lithium, prednisone, etc., instead either have a beneficial effect on the regulation of serotonin, or they prevent inflammation of blood vessels, or they work in some other mode that I am too ignorant to think of. I believe that the hypothalamus is still sending out faulty signals, but we don't experience the pain because the meds are COMPENSATING in some fashion or other for those faulty signals.

The reason I believe this is that it seems that most clusterheads must take the preventative med for the full length of the cycle in order to keep from getting a headache. In other words, if my cycles normally last ten weeks, it is not sufficient for me to take prednisone for a week in order to be pain free for the next year. Even though the pred kicks in within a day or two, if I stop it after a week or a month, the headaches return. Why? Because the hypothalamus has still not reset itself.

The same is true of verapamil. If I take the verapamil faithfully, it will start to work within a week. If I keep it up for a month, I will not get a headache. BUT, if I stop it after a month, the headaches return. Why? Because my hypothalamus has decided that it is not yet ready to reset itself.

"So sorry, old chap, but I am going to stay out of whack for ten weeks, just as I always do, THEN I will reset myself. Not a moment before."

This is why I consider the psilocybin treatment to be FUNDAMENTALLY different from the other preventatives. The ONLY reason there can possibly be for the immediate, complete, and lasting cessation of the CHs is that the hypothalamus has returned to its normal state. The psilocybin has somehow caused the serotonin-regulating mechanism of the brain to return to normal. It has "reset" the mechanism.

To repeat an analogy I used in a previous post, the brain of a clusterhead is like an aging tube-style radio. Over time, the radio will "drift" off-station, and you get fuzzy, crackly sound. Sometimes it will drift back on-station all by itself, but you can speed the process by giving it a sharp slap, and it will snap back on-station, and you get nice clear reception again.... for a while. It has been "reset" to the proper station. Sooner or later, however, it will drift again and require another slap.

My theory is that a sufficiently high dose of psilocybin (or LSD) does to the hypothalamus what that slap does to a radio -- it "resets" the hypothalamus to its normal condition instantly. So instead of waiting your standard ten weeks for the hypothalamus to reset itself, you speed up the process by eating mushrooms.

How exactly does it accomplish this? As I have outlined in previous posts, I (and many researchers) believe that the psilocin molecules (psilocybin is almost instantly converted to psilocin once it enters the body. It is actually psilocin that produces the effects, not psilocybin) are similar enough to serotonin molecules that they are preferentially bound to key receptor sites. In other words, once a receptor site has been "fooled" into accepting a psilocin molecule, a serotonin molecule can't get in and send its normal message.

The message that is sent up the pipeline by a receptor site that is occupied by a psilocin molecule is slightly different from the message that is sent up the pipeline by a receptor site that is occupied by a serotonin molecule. This is why you feel "high" when you have consumed psilocin or LSD -- your brain is receiving messages from your receptor sites that are slightly different from what you are used to.

To use another analogy, the psilocin molecule that occupies the receptor side is similar to a cuckoo's egg that occupies the nest of a songbird of a different species. The cuckoo egg is similar enough to her own egg that the female songbird refrains from laying more eggs, and the parent songbirds are fooled into raising the cuckoo chick as if it were their own. The BEHAVIOR of the adult songbirds is CHANGED, however, by the message that the cuckoo chick sends. The cuckoo chick is much larger, noisier, and more demanding than their own chicks. It has a much larger mouth and is much more agressive than the songbird chicks, so it receives ALL the food. The parent birds must modify their behavior... i.e. bring much more food to the nest than they usually would in order to obey the message the cuckoo chick is transmitting... "Feed me!"

To return from the world of nests and eggs to the world of molecules and receptor sites, one of the effects of this different message being sent by all these befuddled receptor sites is that the hypothalamus gets a signal that says, in essence, "Behave yourself! Return to normal right away!" The hypothalamus does so, "resets" itself to its normal, non-CH mode of operation, and your cycle ends.

Now we get to the next question... just how much psilocin is necessary to reset the hypothalamus? It seems that for most episodics, a single "sub-hallucinogenic" dose is sufficient... just enough to feel a mild buzz. I believe that for some long-term chronics this "mildly buzzed" level may not be sufficient. It may be that their hypothalami have been so out of whack for such a lengthy period of time that a sharper "slap" is required to get the attention of the hypothalamus. In other words, for some long-term chronics, it might be necessary to proceed from the "mildly buzzed" stage to the "Wow! Look at that!" stage.

I freely admit that I may be wrong about this. There just isn't enough data available yet to know for sure. Graham and Q are both long-term chronics, and both managed to get relief with an initial "borderline" dose followed a week or so later with a second, slightly stronger dose. In each case, the second dose was still way below the "Wow! Look at that!" level. It is just my gut feel that if each of them had taken one big dose to begin with, the second dose would not have been required. There is know way to KNOW this for sure,

As for your dilemma with your roomie, may I point out once again that if you live in California, possession of even the spores is illegal. If you live in Florida, possession of even fully-grown mushrooms is legal. If you live in one of the other 48 states, my research to date has indicated that possession of mycelium (a mushroom's equivalent of a root mass) is legal. This means that you can legally cultivate the fungus, if you halt the growing process before mushrooms appear. The mycelium contains just as much psilocybin by weight as a fully grown mushroom does. An ounce of mycelium is therefore pharmacologically identical to an ounce of mushrooms, but is not illegal.

I must caution that this information regarding the legality of mycelium has been gathered from numerous websites dealing with mushroom cultivation, NOT from an exhaustive search of the various State legal databases, so it may not be correct. The only thing I know for sure is that even spores are illegal in California, and that all of the mushroom life cycle stages are legal in Florida. Since mushrooms are perfectly legal in my country, I haven't bothered to expend the effort required to verify the precise shades of gray associated with various American state laws -- it is irrelevant to my personal situation.

I hope that this post has clarified some points for you, Ted.


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