Relieving migraine with cannabis: New hope for affected individuals?
24.05.2023 • News
According to the World Health Organisation, migraines are one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide, affecting over one billion people. In recent years, there has been increased research on the therapeutic possibilities of cannabis for treating migraines.
Severe headaches, nausea, and sensitivity to light are just a few of the symptoms that accompany this neurological condition. The exact causes of the condition are not yet fully understood, but it is believed that both genetic and environmental factors can play a role. Migraines can present in various ways, and no two patient profiles are alike. Therefore, individualised therapy is common practice to provide relief, which often poses a significant problem for affected patients. From cluster headaches to visual auras, vertigo, and vomiting, migraines manifest in diverse ways, just like their treatment. Despite numerous treatment methods available, many patients are unable to find one that provides adequate relief from their symptoms.
Cannabis and migraines
In recent years, there has been increased discussion about the potential effectiveness of cannabis in treating migraines. Fortunately, several studies have shown that cannabis can indeed have a therapeutic effect in treating migraines. This is good news for patients who often face only moderate relief and significant side effects from their current treatments.
A study published in the Journal of Pain 2020 examined the short- and long-term effects of cannabis on headaches and migraines. The researchers analysed data from over 19,000 cannabis sessions for migraine and headache treatment. The survey results showed a reduction of 47.3% for headaches and 49.6% for migraines, a significant success.
Another study published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine in 2018 investigated the effects of cannabis on pain and quality of life in migraine patients. The study found that cannabis reduced pain during migraine attacks by an average of 3.3 points on a scale of 0 to 10. Additionally, cannabis improved the participants' quality of life.
How can cannabis achieve such positive results in treating migraines?
Cannabis contains various active compounds, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is known for its vasodilatory effect, which can be beneficial during migraine attacks since migraines are often caused by constriction of blood vessels in the brain. The vasodilatory effect of THC can help expand these blood vessels, leading to relief from migraine attacks. CBD, on the other hand, is known for its anxiety-reducing and relaxing effects, as well as its ability to reduce nausea.
In addition, cannabis contains a variety of terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds whose interaction, known as the entourage effect, can work wonders.
Which cannabis cultivars are recommended for migraines?
Ultimately, the prescribing doctor determines the specific cultivars used, but there is some information known from patient circles, although it is not scientifically confirmed. If the treating doctor or the patient is not yet comfortable with using THC-rich flowers, it is also possible to prescribe a pure CBD product. However, this also requires a prescription. We have summarised some strains that patients have reported to work well for relieving typical migraine symptoms:
- Girl Scout Cookies: This strain has a higher THC content and can help with pain relief and relaxation.
- White Widow: According to patients with migraines, this strain is good for daytime use during severe pain. It also increases appetite and relieves migraine-related nausea.
- Purple Kush: Also praised by patients in forums when experiencing sleep problems or struggling with anxiety.
- Cannamedical Balanced California Orange: A strain frequently mentioned by patients in Germany for migraines.
- Spectrum Therapeutics Blue 8/7: CBD skunk from Canada that contains slightly more THC than CBD, comparable to Cali O.
- Cannamedical Sunshine Coast (0.7% THC, 13% CBD): A cultivar with dominant CBD for beginners. It contains terpenes such as beta-caryophyllene, terpinolene, and beta-myrcene, which are believed to have calming, anxiety-reducing, and pain-relieving properties.
How can cannabis be consumed for migraines?
There are various ways to consume cannabis for migraines. One option is using vaporized cannabis or cannabis oil. Another option is using oral preparations such as capsules or edibles. The medical use of cannabis flowers for vaporisation is particularly recommended. Vaporisation acts much faster, and nausea is instantly reduced. With oral ingestion, the risk of vomiting is too high, and it takes about 2 hours for the effects to kick in. However, it is important to note that the effectiveness and dosage of cannabis can vary for each individual.
Note: It is important not to smoke joints. Nicotine acts on the same receptors as THC, and it would hinder the desired effects. Additionally, only through phytotherapy can one obtain all the beneficial components from the cannabis plant.
The bottom line
Overall, there is evidence that cannabis can be helpful in treating migraines.
For patients who do not respond to conventional therapies, the use of cannabis can be an option. However, it is always important to consult a doctor before using it to weigh the potential risks and benefits and determine the most suitable dosage and form of administration.
In conclusion, based on the existing results, cannabis can represent a promising alternative in the treatment of migraines.
Get well soon!
Author: Melanie Hermann for Weed!
Editor's Note: The mentioned cultivars are merely a summary and not a recommendation.