An interesting study presented last week showed that a hand-held electrical stimulator, called the gammaCore®, is used twice a day, the number of cluster attacks per week are reduced by eight. For those with three or more attacks per day, this might not sound like much, but the study is a proof-of-concept that electrical stimulation of the vagal nerve electrical can influence cluster headache attacks. This could open the door for newer and better treatments in the future and who knows, a possible route to treat migraine.
This was a good study with 97 participants over two months. The electrical stimulator is placed over the pulse of the carotid artery (in the neck). This device is available in Europe but not yet in the US as the FDA has a higher benchmark for proof of safety and efficacy.
We need better treatments for all headache types and cluster headache disorders have especially been resistant to the treatments that we have. In an earlier post I described how there is interest in studying hallucinogenic (“magic mushrooms”) in cluster treatment. Presently we use dihydroergotamine which is a derivative of this family of mushrooms. I’m not advocating that cluster patients go out looking for these mushrooms as we don’t know the toxicity. However, the scientific community has been listening to the discussion of cluster patients who say that this is effective.
Best of Western Washington
The voting for “Best of Western Washington” continues until 10/24/14. We have been at number 6 out of 490 and we are grateful for the 150 patients who have voted for us. It would be awesome if a headache clinic would make the top five to help the world, at least our piece of the world, know that headache treatment is important. If you haven’t voted, please consider it now by going here.