Do you suffer from migraine headaches? Is using medical cannabis a good option for treating migraines or even just ordinary headaches? Let’s take a look at the history and science of it so you can decide for yourself.
Let’s talk headaches and migraines
Headaches come in different kinds, each one bringing their own set of symptoms and occurring for unique reasons. As such, each type of headache requires a different treatment, too.
This is why it is important to first know the type of headache you are experiencing. From there, you and your physician can find the type of treatment that is most likely to bring you relief and even help you prevent it from coming back.
There are more than a hundred types of headaches. However, the most common ones are those caused by tension, bringing mild to moderate pain.
There are also migraine headaches, which can be described as throbbing and pounding pain. Migraine headaches can last from four hours to three days and take place as regularly as once to four times a month. Aside from pain, this type of headache also brings along other symptoms like nausea or vomiting, upset stomach, loss of appetite, and sensitivity to light, smell, or noise.
Another common type of headache is cluster headache. Cluster headaches are more severe, with intense piercing or burning pain around or behind one eye. The pain can also be constant or throbbing. They are called such because they tend to take place in clusters or in groups — like once to thrice a day during a cluster period, which could last two weeks or even three months.
There are also sinus headaches, which happen when your sinuses get inflamed. These headaches are characterized by deep and constant pain in your forehead, cheekbones, or on the nose bridge. They usually come with sinusitis-related symptoms like runny nose, fever, fullness in the ears, and swollen face.
Other types of headaches include post-traumatic headaches, chronic daily headaches, exercise headaches, hemicrania continua, hormone headaches, rebound headaches, and new daily persistent headaches.
The history of cannabis as headache remedy
The use of weed to treat headache goes back to some hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Doctors from the Middle Ages in Europe and from ancient Greece kept cannabis in their arsenal for cranial pain therapies. There are also manuscripts from the Mesopotamian region dating back to 2000 BCE recommending the use of cannabis to “bind the temples.” Moreover, pioneers of modern neurology have written about the benefits of cannabis during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was only during the late 1930s, when social perceptions changed, that the clinical use of cannabis — including its applications for headaches — declined.
How does cannabis ease headache or migraine?
The way cannabis works on headaches is pretty much the same way it works on other ailments or medical conditions. It can be explained by looking into the relationship or interaction between the cannabinoids found in cannabis and the cannabinoid receptors found in your body. This network of receptors makes up your endocannabinoid system.
Cannabinoid receptors are tiny loops of protein that affect how you perceive pain.
The cannabinoids that enter your body when you consume cannabis will look for the receptors and change how these receptors work. More specifically, the cannabinoids calm down pain signals.
These cannabinoids may also help relieve nausea, as well as other health issues like anxiety and muscle spasms.
Does cannabis work for migraine headaches?
While there aren’t so many studies on this particular area, a clinical trial done in 2016 by researchers from the University of Colorado’s Department of Clinical Pharmacy suggests that weed is effective in relieving migraine headaches. The study involved a group of 121 adults suffering from regular migraines and who used cannabis daily to prevent attacks.
About 40 percent of these adults said that they’ve had fewer migraine attacks since taking weed. Overall, the frequency was reduced from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month.
The study, however, left many questions open for further investigation, such as the best marijuana strains to use and the dosages.
If you want to read about success stories and anecdotal evidence, though, many can be found on the Internet!