If you’re one of the unlucky folks who knows the misery of migraine headaches, you know all too well their symptoms – prolonged pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and/or sound, affected vision, even coordination problems. You’re one of the 37 million Americans who probably also knows that these symptoms don’t always respond to over-the-counter pain medications, or even to prescriptions drugs. And then there are the side effects of those medications.
So how about trying something new?
While cannabis has long been used as a remedy for migraine pain, evidence of its efficacy was largely anecdotal. And then, a 2016 study confirmed what previous research had only suggested.
The Effect of Cannabis on Migraines & Headaches
The study, published from Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado, reviewed effects of both ingested and inhaled cannabis in 121 participants with migraines.
Their findings were pretty darn impressive.
- Migraine frequency dropped by more than half, down to 4.6 per month from an average of 10.4.
- Close to half of participants – nearly 40% – experienced positive effects.
- Around 85% of participants reported fewer migraines per month with the help of cannabis, with 12% experiencing no change and just 2% reporting an increase in migraine frequency.
Of the two methods of consumption, inhalation seemed to offer faster relief.
So How Does it Work?
Migraines seem to be the result of different triggers interacting with the part of the brain associated with pain regulation. Dilation in cerebral blood vessels affect brain circuits that manage pain and inflammation, and boom – migraine. Specific cannabinoids found naturally in the nervous system work with the endocannabinoid system to inhibit this dilation, modulating the pain caused by various triggers.
Cannabis may work to improve and reduce migraine pain by solving endocannabinoid deficiency, which is believed to be a big cause of migraine headaches.
More research is needed to pinpoint exactly how it works, but the current evidence is encouraging, particularly when you consider current options for migraine relief.
Current Migraine Treatments
Migraine treatment options include those given when a migraine strikes, known as acute medications, as well as preventative medications intended to prevent migraines from happening at all.
- Acute medications: opiods, acetaminophen, hormones, triptans
- Preventative medications: cardiovascular drugs, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, NSAIDs
Most of these medications are associated with a host of unpleasant side effects, including nausea, drowsiness, dizziness and muscle weakness.
There are also holistic remedies for migraines, things like chiropractic care, yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, vitamins, herbs and supplements. Results, however, vary.
And that brings us back to cannabis.
Migraine sufferers often experience severe pain, nausea and vomiting, and these are symptoms that can be managed effectively with cannabis. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are both associated with anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties, making them a worthwhile consideration.
If you’re thinking about using cannabis to manage your migraines, speak to your doctor or ask a bud-tender at your local dispensary for strain, dosage and consumption recommendations.
Must be 21. Keep out of reach of children.