Cannabis for Migraine Relief

One in four women suffer from migraines, if you are suffering from migraines and you wish to learn more about my journey read on.
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Woman with migraine

One in four women has had a migraine, and it turns out, the debilitating headaches affect three times more women than men.*That stat seems astronomically high, but then again, I am one of those one in four women.

I first began to experience migraines after my second child was born. I chalked it up to hormones and a new job working with a company that manufactured fragranced body products. After several months and roughly 4 mind-numbingly awful migraine attacks, I left that job only to discover that the headaches kept coming.

Cannabis as an Alternative Migraine Treatment

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Migraines are a chronic pain condition that can significantly impact quality of life. Many migraine sufferers turn to medication for relief, but some are exploring alternative treatments like medical cannabis or medicinal cannabis use.

Cannabis has been studied for its potential in treating migraine headaches, with some research suggesting it may help reduce migraine frequency, severity, and associated symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

Promising Research on Cannabis for Migraine

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Decreased migraine frequency and severity with cannabis use

A retrospective study published in the Journal of Pain found that among cannabis users who treated their migraine headaches with inhaled cannabis, there was a statistically significant decrease in migraine frequency. Additionally, over 85% of participants reported a decrease in migraine severity after using cannabis for migraine treatment.

Potential therapeutic benefits and mechanisms

This study provides promising evidence for the potential efficacy of medical cannabis or medicinal cannabis use in managing chronic migraine and reducing migraine attack frequency. Among the cannabis users in the study cohort, inhaling specific cannabis strains appeared to not only decrease the number of migraine days experienced, but also alleviate the intensity of migraine pain and associated symptoms during acute migraine attacks.

While more research is still needed, particularly larger clinical trials and studies on different methods of cannabis consumption, these findings suggest that the cannabinoids and other compounds found in the cannabis plant may offer therapeutic benefits for migraine sufferers. The ability of cannabis to modulate the endocannabinoid system and interact with various neurotransmitter pathways could potentially play a role in its perceived efficacy for migraine treatment.

Considerations and future research

It’s important to note that this retrospective study relied on self-reported data from participants, and factors such as placebo effects or variations in cannabis strains and dosages could have influenced the results. However, the statistically significant reduction in migraine frequency and the high percentage of participants reporting decreased migraine severity are promising indicators that warrant further investigation.

As with any alternative or complementary treatment, it’s crucial for migraine patients to consult with their healthcare providers before incorporating cannabis into their migraine management plan. Proper strain analysis, dosing guidance, and monitoring for potential adverse effects or interactions with other medications are essential for safe and effective use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Decreased Migraine Frequency and Severity With Cannabis Use

While more research is needed, particularly on the long-term effects and potential adverse events, these findings suggest that cannabis may offer a promising alternative or complementary treatment for migraine patients who have not found relief with conventional treatments or migraine medications.

It’s important to note that the use of cannabis for medical purposes should be discussed with a healthcare professional, as there may be potential risks or interactions with other medications. Additionally, different cannabis strains and products can have varying effects, so strain analysis and proper dosing are crucial for optimal therapeutic benefits.

For those considering medical cannabis use for migraine treatment, it’s recommended to start with low doses and monitor the effects closely. Some cannabis strains that have been reported to be effective for migraine include those high in CBD, as well as balanced THC/CBD ratios.

While cannabis may not be a cure-all for migraine, its potential medicinal properties and ability to modulate the endocannabinoid system make it an intriguing option for those seeking alternative or complementary migraine treatments.

My Migraine Story:

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Migraine auras: A personal warning system

My migraines are the sort that are accompanied by an aura beforehand. Approximately 30-40% of migraine sufferers experience these auras, which are best described as a feeling of mental fuzziness, numbness, or tingling in the extremities, or even flashing lights throughout your field of vision. I now think of the aura as my own personal warning system, and I take it very seriously, like a tsunami alert. When I have the sensation that a migraine headache is coming, I know I have about thirty minutes to get myself somewhere safe to ride out the storm.

Seeking relief: Conventional migraine treatments

When I sought out professional help, my doctor told me to take Advil, but it didn’t provide much relief for my migraine symptoms. I begged and borrowed stronger migraine medications from friends, trying Percocet and Oxycontin to alleviate the migraine pain, but all those drugs did for me was knock me out. I needed a solution that would allow me to continue with my day. I couldn’t keep losing full days to these debilitating migraine attacks.

Discovering cannabis for migraine relief

At some point, a colleague offered me a hit off his vaporizer when I told him about my migraines. I didn’t expect much, but I took him up on his offer, and I immediately felt relief. Cannabis didn’t completely cure my migraines, but with its introduction into my migraine treatment regimen, I am able to cope much better with the headache pain and associated symptoms.

For many migraine sufferers like myself, finding an effective treatment can be a long and frustrating journey. While conventional migraine medications work for some, others may find relief through alternative or complementary approaches like medical cannabis use. However, it’s crucial to discuss any potential migraine treatments with a healthcare professional and closely monitor for any adverse effects or interactions.

Clinical Evidence for Cannabis in Migraine Treatment

While clinical evidence supporting cannabis for migraine treatment is still limited, several recent studies have shown promising results.

A 2020 cross-sectional study published in the Journal of Pain found that among 589 adult cannabis users, 27.3% reported experiencing migraines. Of those with migraines, 76.4% used cannabis to treat their migraines, and reported significantly more migraine relief from cannabis compared to non-cannabis products, even after controlling for migraine severity.

A 2022 systematic review published in the Journal of Headache and Pain analyzed 12 publications involving 1,980 participants in Italy and the United States. The review found that medical cannabis significantly reduced nausea, vomiting, and the number of migraine days per month. Medical cannabis was also 51% more effective in reducing migraines than non-cannabis products.

Another 2022 study published in the Journal of Neurology found that among 145 patients with chronic migraine, those who used medical cannabis experienced a significant reduction in monthly migraine days, from an average of 23.5 days to 13.1 days after three months of treatment.

While these studies suggest potential benefits of cannabis for migraine relief, more rigorous clinical trials are still needed to determine the optimal dosages, strains, and methods of administration for treating migraines effectively and safely.

It’s important to note that cannabis use may also carry risks, such as medication overuse headaches and potential adverse effects, particularly with long-term or high-dose use. Patients should consult with their healthcare providers and weigh the potential benefits and risks before considering cannabis as a treatment option for migraines.**

Potential Mechanisms: Cannabinoids and Migraine Pathways

As cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, it is pretty difficult to study the effects of the cannabis plant on various medical conditions and ailments. However, preliminary research is showing a correlation between cannabis use and a decrease in migraine activity, and it is thought to be based on the interaction between cannabinoids and receptors in the brain.

Cannabinoid receptors affect neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is believed to play a role in migraine pathways, although the exact causes of migraines are still not fully understood.

Considering Medical Cannabis for Migraine Relief

If you are experiencing chronic or acute migraine headaches, it’s important to discuss your options with a healthcare professional. If your doctor is open to exploring medical cannabis or medicinal cannabis use, you might find some relief there.

However, it’s crucial to start with low doses, monitor your response closely, and work with your provider to find the appropriate cannabis strain and dosage that helps alleviate your migraine symptoms without causing adverse effects.

While more research is needed to fully understand the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis on migraine and its mechanisms of action, the available evidence suggests that it may be a promising alternative or complementary treatment option for some migraine sufferers, particularly those who have not found relief with conventional migraine medications or preventive treatments.

References

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About Author
Author PhotoLeighana Lynn

Leighana is a dynamic and driven individual making her mark in the burgeoning cannabis industry. Her journey is fueled by a deep-rooted passion for both cannabis and the art of... Read More

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About Author
Author PhotoLeighana Lynn

Leighana is a dynamic and driven individual making her mark in the burgeoning cannabis industry. Her journey is fueled by a deep-rooted passion for both cannabis and the art of... Read More

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