Posted by pinksharkmark (188.8.131.52) on June 11, 2001 at 14:45:16:
In Reply to: Ergot posted by Bob P on June 11, 2001 at 12:39:13:
It is indeed a fungus that grows on rye grain, scientific name Claviceps purpurea.
Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist working for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, was experimenting with various ergot-based compounds (all of which have the familiar "indole ring" as their base structure) trying to find a more effective migraine medication, when he synthesized LSD. It was already known at the time that ergot-based compounds helped migraines, probably because they are potent vasoconstrictors. Ergot-based compounds were (and still are) also used to induce labor.
Alexander Shulgin (author of TIHKAL and PIHKAL) has synthesized dozens of compounds similar to both LSD and psilocybin, most of which are psychoactive, all of which have the "indole ring" as their base structure. In many of these syntheses, ergotamine is the starting "precursor" chemical. The vast majority of these compounds are not illegal. They are also impossible to obtain unless you want to synthesize them for yourself.
Methysergide is indeed closely related to LSD, but with a MUCH lower psychoactive effect, at least in low doses. I can tell you from personal experience that methysergide (Sansert) IS INDEED psychoactive. It made me STUPID while at the same time doing absolutely nothing for my cluster headaches. Yuck.
It is my opinion that ALL psychoactive compounds based on the indole ring will probably work as well on cluster headaches as do LSD and psilocybin, but there is no easy way to test this since these compounds are so difficult to obtain.
Some other psychoactive compounds (mescaline, MDA, MDMA -- also known as Ecstacy) are based on a partial, or "skeletal" indole ring. Reports I have read on this board indicate that at least one of them, MDMA (Ecstacy) will abort a headache in progress... I don't know if they will achieve lengthy remissions as do LSD and psilocybin, though.
I remain firmly convinced that the reason for the success of indole-based psychoactive compounds is their close resemblance to serotonin. Obviously, neurochemical researchers are on the same track... why else would methysergide and the various triptans (Imitrex, Zomig, etc.) have been synthesized and prescribed in the first place?
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