A Year In The Life Of A Clusterhead

First, some background.

“Clusterhead” is a colloquial term used to describe cluster headache sufferers. Cluster headaches affect about 0.2% of the general population making them very rare indeed. Unless you are a sufferer, or live with one, it is unlikely that you will have ever heard of the condition. I don’t intend to explore the epidemiology of cluster headaches but those who are interested should look at the Wikipedia article and the Organisation for the Understanding of Cluster Headache (OUCH UK) site.

What is relevant to this post is the nature and severity of the pain experienced by clusterheads.

The pain of CH attack is remarkably greater than in other headache conditions, including severe migraine. The pain is typically described as burning, stabbing, boring or squeezing, and may be located near or behind the eye. Those with cluster headaches may experience suicidal thoughts during an attack as a result of the pain. It is reported as one of the most painful conditions.


There is no known cause and no known cure for cluster headaches.

Secondly, some information about me.

I’m male, 66 years old and a former Biology teacher. I retired six years ago. My first encounters with CH began about ten years ago but weren’t diagnosed until January 2010. I suffered a very serious episode whilst on holiday in South Africa and upon my return saw my GP who made the diagnosis. That episode lasted three months. My next episode began on April 1st 2012. This time I was in Sri Lanka and that attack also lasted for about three months. My most recent attack began on December 14th 2014 and ended on May 12th 2015. It was by far my most severe attack as well as being the longest and it is that episode which is the subject of this blog post.

Continue reading “A Year In The Life Of A Clusterhead”


Ask A Homeopath?

I am indebted to Blue Wode (@Blue_Wode) for this tweet a few days ago:

Email your query re homeopathy to homeopathyhelp@nelsons.net and get an answer within 24 hrs http://bit.ly/LmZPKb#ten23#HAW

My curiosity got the better of me so I decided to submit a query. This is what I wrote:

I suffer from cluster headaches which conventional medicine cannot cure. Can homeopathy do anything to help me?

My reason for submitting that query is simple enough. I suffer from cluster headaches. A cluster headache is a particular type of headache affecting about one person in a thousand. Wikipedia does a pretty good job of describing what they are like:

Cluster headache is a condition that involves, as its most prominent feature, an immense degree of pain that is almost always on only one side of the head. Cluster headaches occur periodically: spontaneous remissions interrupt active periods of pain. The cause of the condition is currently unknown. It affects approximately 0.1% of the population, and men are more commonly affected than women.

I’ve suffered from cluster headaches for about ten years but was only diagnosed three years ago. My attacks are episodic, a cluster lasts for around three months and then I have a period of remission of perhaps two years. During the cluster, alcohol and exercise act as triggers and have to be avoided. I take 480 mg of Verapamil during a cluster and have used sub-cutaneous injections of Sumatriptan as an abortive. I have just come to the end of a cluster, stopped my medication, and life is returning to normal. I’ve never considered using homeopathy but was curious to know what advice I might be given. My inquiry elicited this response:

Dear Mike

Thank you for contacting us about your cluster headaches.  There is no reason why homeopathy should not help your headaches, however in order to be able to treat them a full description of the symptoms is needed ie what makes them better and worse, when they started, and other such details.  Just as you would seek expert advice from a Doctor it is often best to see a qualified homeopath in order to get the best remedy for you.

However there are two remedies which may be able to help you:

Nat Mur is a remedy for headaches with a bursting pain that may feel like a hammer in one spot.  It is worse in the morning on waking at 10am to 10am – 3pm.  It is worse for sun and can start after a grief.

Belladonna is for headaches that are very intense, described as throbbing.  They begin in the right occiput and extend to teh right forehead or eye.  They aer worse at 3pm or at night, worse for light and the sun.  Hands and feet are icy cold during the headache.

Hopefully this is helpful to you.

All the best in your future good health!

Rachael Leffman

MA Cantab RSHom

on behalf of Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy

One of the first things that struck me were the ‘qualifications’ of the homeopath. They are always, it seems to me, very keen to put strings of letters after their names. According to her website, Rachael Leffman has a degree in French and Spanish and is registered with the Society of Homeopaths. I am assuming therefore that her knowledge of science and scientific method is limited.

Her first recommendation is Nat Mur (Natrum muriaticum) which is sodium chloride – better known as table salt. So to treat a condition thought to be caused by an abnormality of the hypothalamus, I have to use salty water? Correction: I have to use salty water which doesn’t contain any salt. Her other recommendation is Belladonna, originally extracted from the plant Atropa belladonna, or Deadly Nightshade. Homeopathic belladonna has been investigated (Ultramolecular homeopathy has no observable clinical effects. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled proving trial of Belladonna 30C,) and found to have ‘…………….no observable clinical effects.’

So my online consultation gave me two possible treatments, salty water and a homeopathic remedy which has been shown not to work. I’ll stick with Big Pharma.

Anyone who is suffering from cluster headaches or knows of someone who is a sufferer should visit the website of the Organisation for the Understanding of Cluster Headache (OUCH UK)  where they will receive help and information which is evidence based.