Cannabis For Headaches
More than 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, with around 3 million of these being chronic cases. Sometimes the pain from migraines can be so debilitating that it can be impossible to get anything done. Aside from severe headaches, extreme migraines are also usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Pharmaceutical medications are prescribed to prevent and treat migraines although these come with side effects that include drowsiness, dizziness, muscle weakness, weight gain, constipation, dry mouths, and addiction to name a few. Many people who suffer from migraines also don’t find any relief from pharmaceutical medications being prescribed to them.
However, cannabis is an excellent natural alternative for migraine sufferers and doesn’t pose any health risks. A recent study earlier this year conducted by the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado analyzed how both ingested and inhaled cannabis affected 121 participants who suffered from migraines. The findings showed what we’ve known all along about cannabis’ healing properties. They found that there was a decrease in the average number of migraines monthly from 10.4 to 4.6, and around 40% of the participants reported feeling good about the effects of cannabis on their migraines. An estimated 85% of the subjects also said that they suffered less migraines each month when they were using cannabis. “There was a substantial improvement for patients in their ability to function and feel better,” according to Laura Borgelt of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Like any drug, marijuana has potential benefits and potential risks. It’s important for people to be aware that using medical marijuana can also have adverse effects,” she says in a press release.
The study also showed that cannabis when inhaled, this delivery method provided the quickest relief for the participants and it was also able to help stop the migraines head on. Edibles took longer, but we all know that already about edibles.
Why Is Cannabis So Effective For Migraines?
Cannabis use for headaches dates back to the 19th century especially in the United States and England. Many prominent physicians in history supported the recognized the use of cannabis for migraines; one of them included Sir William Osler who, in 1915, wrote: “Cannabis indica is probably the most satisfactory remedy’ for migraines and cited others in recommending a ‘prolonged course’ of cannabis treatment.” In 1916, Dr. Dixon, a pharmacology professor at Kings’ College and the University of Cambridge wrote about the medicinal benefits of cannabis for those suffering from headaches.
There have been many other studies in the past that have attempted to answer the question why cannabis is effective in treating headaches and migraines. It is widely believed that cannabis works so well because the cannabinoids attach to the endocannabinoid receptors in the human body, most of which are located in the brain. Studies indicate those individuals who have chronic migraines have low levels of endocannabinoids in the brain, a condition that can aggravate migraine pain and blood vessel dilation. In 2007, an animal study was conducted and the researchers discovered that when the body had an increased endocannabinoid activity, the brain sends less pain signals. They concluded that cannabinoids are promising as a treatment for migraines and headaches.
Cannabis also contains analgesic, anti-emetic, and anti-inflammatory properties that give it the ability to stop migraines in its tracks including its accompanying symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain. We can also attribute the entourage effect to the efficacy of cannabis in treating migraines. This refers to individual cannabinoids working together synergistically to provide relief from migraines.
An entire book was also written discussing all the details about why cannabis is so effective for migraines. The book, titled Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine, was published in 1993 and written by Dr. Lester Greenspoon. The book includes several case studies of migraine sufferers who benefited from using cannabis as medicine.
Getting The Most Out Of Cannabis For Migraines
Fast-acting delivery methods such as smoking, vaping, and using tinctures are recommended for migraine sufferers. Edibles aren’t advisable because many people who suffer from migraines also tend to vomit. If you smoke cannabis to treat a migraine, you won’t lose the benefits of the plant if you end up throwing up. Many of those with migraines also suffer from gastric striasis, a condition wherein the stomach is unable to completely empty itself. Because of this condition, taking edibles isn’t the most effective way to get the medicinal benefits of cannabis for migraines because you aren’t absorbing the cannabinoids the way you should.
The right dosage tends to vary on a case-to-case basis. If you are only starting to use cannabis to treat acute migraines, it’s recommended to start with a low dosage until you find the relief that you are looking for then observe if your symptoms improve. However, if you suffer from chronic migraines, higher dosages may work best.
These strains are known to be useful in the treatment of migraines: