Migraines are not ordinary headaches. In fact, these disruptions can feel almost unbearable. However, cannabis, with its other beneficial aspects, may have the ability to treat migraines as well.
We know so much about cannabis, but how much do we really know about migraines? A migraine is not just a headache, it is much more than that. Migraines exhibit different characteristics and are triggered by different things than the average headache.
Sensory stimuli like loud noises, strong smells, and bright lights can cause migraines to occur. Also, pain and discomfort in other areas can also trigger migraine headaches. This may include pain and stiffness in the neck, and sometimes even jet lag after a long flight. Another cause of migraines comes from anxiety. Severe worry and stress can easily trigger a chronic migraine.
But when the migraine is set into motion, you will know. As it causes several other almost debilitating symptoms, two of which are nausea and further light sensitivities. Some of the more severe cases of migraines come with a loss of sensation throughout the body, changes in vision, and even an overall sense of confusion. It can be extremely difficult to complete basic responsibilities during a migraine. Most of the time, people turn to sleep as a last resort, even after taking medication.
According to The American Migraine Foundation, this type of headache is considered the “Ice pick” of headaches, a recurring sharp pain that is usually short-lived. But we know, by experience, that migraines do not always go away so quickly. Statistics show that 35 million American people endure migraines. This is 14% of men and 35% of women.
And it’s also noted that most migraines occur between the ages of 18 and 44, and this is an interesting observation too. Migraines are number 6 on the list of the most disabling illnesses and can even cause loss of work due to dramatic neurological symptoms.
Now that you understand what a migraine is and how it affects the overall population, let’s look at its relationship to cannabis. Considering cannabis is beneficial for so many other issues and conditions, most people think, “Yes, cannabis can help with migraines”. In fact, there are several people who reported a drastic decrease in symptoms when using marijuana products.
In a 2019 study, Washington State University assistant professor of psychology, Carrie Cutler, analyzed data from over 2,000 individuals. Nearly 50% of patients reported a decrease in symptoms with the use of cannabis products.
Treatment with the use of medical cannabis products, for instance, is unlike the use of pharmaceuticals. With pharmaceuticals, treatment is based solely on single compounds in ingredients. With cannabis, there are medicinal benefits from the compounds of marijuana and with the use of the whole plant. Tests are conducted to determine which benefits come from the various compounds of cannabis.
It is known that cannabis works through the endocannabinoid system to soothe migraines. Here, cannabis goes to work to reduce inflammation of the dura mater tissue of the brain. It also attempts to minimize the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals. Both present inflammation and the continual release of inflammatory substances help sustain the migraine.
According to Dr. Jim Polston, the chief Science Officer at Helius Therapeutics, migraines are actually caused by an anandamide deficiency, which is a naturally produced cannabinoid in the brain. This natural cannabinoid works to reduce inflammation, and when there is a deficiency, this swelling causes the intense pain of the chronic migraine.
Also, the use of CBD, which is a non-psychotropic compound in cannabis, is beneficial for anxiety aspects of migraines. CBD is an anxiolytic, anxiety, and stress reducer, and does have the capabilities of decreasing some symptoms of the migraine headache.
Although it isn’t clear how much or how often cannabis can be used to treat migraines, it is suggested that treating right before and during the onset is best. Waiting until the migraine has grown to monumental pain thresholds doesn’t work quite as well.
But considering cannabis has so many beneficial compounds and parts, even treating it during the peak of a migraine can possibly bring some relief. The understanding of the exact dosage is unclear, and dosage facts are yet to be set in stone. This is especially true due to the still illegal status of cannabis in many states and at the federal level.
Although many people enjoy inhaling cannabis, the most popular delivery system for relieving headaches is through oral use, notably through the sublingual administration of cannabis (CBD) oils. This delivery helps patients avoid smoking in case they fear the risks of effects to the lungs.
And some migraineur prefer to use a combination of THC and CBD for relief, as the powerful and euphoric effects of THC also help with relaxation and pain relief. And micro-dosing this combination seems to be quite popular as well.
Finally, treating migraines with cannabis would also remove the dependency on pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, cannabis can potentially replace many other drugs for medical conditions as well. Of course, you should always consult your physician first and make a decision on your own with the information you receive.
At LucidaClub, we stand behind the potential benefits of cannabis and believe that many lives can be changed with a bit of education on the subject. If you already enjoy cannabis, then take a break from your day-to-day routine and try a new edible or cream. If you believe in the power of cannabis, keep enjoying all this herb has to offer. You deserve it.