If you have ever suffered a migraine, you will know they can be tough to treat. Migraine headaches can be incredibly debilitating. As well as the headache you are often dealing with nausea and sensitivity to light. So what do you do if over-the-counter or even prescription drugs aren’t working? Marijuana could be a remedy you can consider for migraine relief. Some research shows that cannabis and migraines may be worth pursuing since it has the potential to ease migraine symptoms. And it can also possibly keep them from starting at all. But most studies haven’t found solid proof of that. It is important to remember in some states, marijuana isn’t legal to buy, grow, or own. And you cannot use marijuana for medical reasons. Make sure you find out about your state’s laws before trying it. So what exactly does a migraine involve and how can you use cannabis to potentially cure it?
A migraine is a complex condition with a number of symptoms including the following:
- Painful headaches
- Disturbed vision
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems with coordination
Currently, there are a number of medications for pain relief. They include acetaminophen, opioids, triptans, glucocorticoids (steroid hormones), and ergots. Preventative medications include cardiovascular drugs (beta and calcium channel blockers), anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, these have their own side effects, which include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and muscle weakness.
While cannabis has long been used for the treatment of migraines, it is only in recent years scientists have been able to determine why. A new study published by Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado looked at the effects of inhaled and ingested cannabis and how it had benefits for migraine sufferers. Researchers reviewed reports from 121 adults who took part.
- The average number of migraine headaches decreased from 10.4 per month to 4.6
- 11.6% of subjects reported cannabis stopped their migraine headaches
- Almost 40% of subjects reported positive effects
- 19.8% of subjects claimed medical marijuana helped to prevent their severe headaches
- About 85% of subjects reported having fewer migraines per month when using cannabis
- Only 12% saw no change in migraine frequency with cannabis
- Only about 2% saw an increase in migraine frequency
The fastest way to help the migraines appeared to be inhalation. Edible cannabis took longer to provide relief and had more side effects. These included sleepiness and euphoria. Other complementary therapies, which have been recommended, include yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, massage therapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, and cognitive behavior therapy. Mayo Clinic and the Migraine Trust also recommend a selection of herbs, vitamins, and minerals.
How Can Cannabis Ease Your Migraines?
Inside your brain and other parts of your body, you have a network of cannabinoid receptors. These tiny loops of protein impact how you feel pain. Marijuana has natural compounds called cannabinoids. These cannabinoids go into your body and look for the receptors. This is when they can calm down pain signals. Cannabinoids may also help with nausea, anxiety, muscle spasms, or other health problems. THC is the cannabinoid in marijuana that can make you feel high or relaxed. Meanwhile, cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t make you feel intoxicated and may help ease the pain. Several states have made it legal for CBD to be used for medical reasons.
Does Cannabis Work for Migraines?
Cannabis as a medicine has an ancient history with anecdotes dating back to the Vedic period (c.1500 BCE) in India and Nepal. It was in 1839 William Brooke O’Shaughnessy brought cannabis to the West and introduced its therapeutic potential. However, it took another 75 years before Sir William Osler, the father of modern medicine, suggested it could have an impact on migraines and headaches. However, when cannabis was criminalized, it meant it became very difficult to research. And a lot of what was permitted was based on animal or tissue culture experiments. However, with the new wave of legalization, it means this is something that is getting more and more research. And so far investigations into its ability to treat migraines and headaches have been promising.
What About CBD Oil For Migraines?
Cannabidiol oil may relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It has shown positive results as a treatment for migraines. The great thing about CBD is it has no mind-altering effects. Some claim cannabis has the ability to reduce the symptoms of some types of headaches. There is evidence that CBD oil can reduce inflammation and pain in arthritis. Which is why there is a school of thought it can work in a similar way with migraines.
In a review of studies, published in 2017, researchers saw a useful and effective role for marijuana in treating migraine. A purified CBD oil that containing no THC received approval by the FDA in June 2018. This was to treat two rare and severe types of epilepsy. However, to obtain it you need to have a prescription. Most products available do not have approval, which means the user cannot always be sure the product is safe.
Dr Stephen Silberstein told the American Migraine Foundation caution should be used when using CBD oil, especially by adolescents. He said: “In general, it should be avoided by adolescents until more research has been conducted.” He also added CBD oil: “works locally, and even if taken orally, it won’t produce intoxication.“If you have a lot of neck pain or soreness, it is perfectly reasonable to use CBD oil. It may even prevent nausea and vomiting.”
Talk to a doctor about CBD and marijuana whether it is safe and legal to use. As the studies come in examining the effectiveness and side effects of CBD oil, there will be further changes in laws and recommendations. However, there is little evidence currently CBD oil is effective as a treatment option for migraines. More studies about how CBD works is necessary.
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