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I've got a theory on what causes HPPD. It's a crazy theory mind you: HPPD is caused by the JC virus.


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Or rather, HPPD is caused by someone NOT being infected with the JC virus.


Ok, I'm not a doctor and all that, but you guys seem to like sharing theories on these things, so here is my theory (note: no science at all to back this up)!




The JC virus is very common in humans - it also causes persistent infection, where it is always present in the body, but unless you are immunosuppressed (e.g. AIDS) it doesn't cause any symptoms. It is normally completely benign.


This article;




states that 70%-90% of humans test positive for antibodies for the virus (meaning they were infected at some point), and 20%-80% of humans are continuously excreting the virus, indicating that they are constantly infected with it.


Now, here's the key thing: The JC virus also infects the central nervous system, and according to this paper;




the JC virus may use the 5HT2A receptors to infect cells. And disturbances in the 5HT2A receptors, it's been suggested, are a primary cause of HPPD, and are also what most psychedelics act on.


So the crazy theory is this: The constant infection with the JC virus, and in particular the constant response from the immune system, somehow "fixes" the disruptive 5HT2A receptors, as a side-effect of fighting the JC virus. So for 70%-90% of humans that try psychedelics, their immune system repairs the 5HT2A receptors over the course of a few days,as part of it's constant battle with the JC virus (which is using those receptors to infect other cells). But for the 10%-30% that are not infected, this does not happen, causing the repair of the 5HT2A receptors to be slower, or not happen at all (this would depend on other factors, I would imagine).


There is another reason that I think this theory might have some vein of truth in it - a drug called Mefloquine. Mefloquine is one of the few drugs that has been shown to be successful in treating JC virus infection. Mefloquine is more commonly used as a drug to prevent malaria. But mefloquine can also cause neuropsychiatric effects, "including anxiety, hallucinations, depression, unusual behavior, and suicidal ideations, among others". Some studies put the number of people affected with neurological symptoms to some degree as high as 25%, with a smaller fraction having a serious neurological reaction. Why it causes these reactions is unknown, but you can probably guess what my theory is on this - Mefloquine kills the JC virus, causing the immune system's interaction with the serotonin receptors to change in some way, which is what causes the neurological symptoms.


The JC virus is also often passed from parent to child, which might explain the apparent semi-hereditary nature of HPPD predisposition.


So according to my theory at least, treatment for HPPD would involve, presumably, deliberately infecting yourself with the JC virus. Or perhaps you are infected, but it has not yet crossed the blood-brain barrier, or something weird like that.


So like I said, I know very little about medicine - this is a total guess as to what causes HPPD in some people and not in others, but I thought it was worth posting. Also, this is my first post, so hi everyone!

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Hmm I'll respond at more length later.. I mean yeah, why not right? All things can be considered. Finding something in common (besides drug use) among HPPD'ers would be a good start for finding an actual cure.

Anyway, before people start spraying JC virus concentrate onto their tonsils.. Immunodeficiency may cause the JC virus to lead to progessive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Considering many with HPPD experience high levels of anxiety/stress, they're more prone to being immunodeficient, and as such would be more prone to contracting PML from the JC virus. However I won't common on the likelihood or lack thereof of this, as I have no freaking clue. Obviously chronic stress would never make you as immunodeficient as AIDS for example.


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  • 7 years later...

After having Epstein Barr enter my brain recently and cause a lot of crazy symptoms I associate with hppd, I’m seriously wondering about possible viral components to this disorder. 

95% of people have this virus in them.


It can resurface, albeit its “rare” (I’ve had it twice last 4 years... last time I thought I was losing my mind but the doctor didn’t inform me. I simply found out via blood tests.)

Psychedelics influence the immune system/would make it easier for latent 



EBV can cause hallucinations that are eerily similar to the ones I had after getting mushroom hppd.



Theres a huge list of symptoms for EBV reactivation. One not need have every one. Last time I had no sore thoat.


both times I had EXTREME PANIC waking up one day. Like ungodly panic. This time I wished only for death for 9 straight days. It was the most humbling experience of my life. 

Is hppd Epstein Barr? Maybe it’s a part of it. Or maybe hppd is a different virus going wild. Perhaps the body gets confused—immune system dysfunction ensues. 

this might also explain how some people get HPPD NOT from psychedelics as well. 

Epstein Barr can cause post concussive symptoms not detectable by MRI.


its all really interesting stuff. No way I know of to test it haha. Just interesting to find a virus that almost everyone has and can sometimes resurface with emotional or biological triggers, can cause visual hallucinations, alters monoamine status, causes grave emotional changes, and can stick around for a long time (often 8 month-2 years but sometimes forever). 

or it does nothing and I get a sore throat for a month haha.

Edited by Onemorestep
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