According to a study published on PubMed.gov, migraines affect roughly 1 out of 6 adults in the U.S., affecting 1 in 5 women. I have personally battled severe headaches and migraines since experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning when I was about 14 years old. After I experienced my one and only (known) seizure, I was sent to a pediatric neurologist who ran all sorts of tests and couldn’t figure out why the headaches weren’t going away – I was started on a battery of prescriptions to try to break through the near constant headache and crippling migraines.
I had little to no success on the pills for years before finally giving up completely until I revisited a neurologist at the age of 24 for botox injections in my neck and scalp every 3 months. Botox worked well for a while but also came with occasional facial drooping and a growing concern about all the chemicals being injected in my head every few months. When medical marijuana became legal in Ohio, I was very vocal with my neurologist about wanting to use cannabis instead of these other drugs to manage my headaches.
What causes Migraines?
That is a very tough question to answer, in fact, medical professionals have been stumped on this same question for decades. There is no concrete evidence that reveals the direct cause of migraine headaches, there is enough evidence though to suggest that migraines might be hereditary. Migraine sufferers often report experiencing “triggers” that can include experiencing fatigue, loud noises, bright lights for extended periods of time, and even missing meals; for me, certain smells can also trigger headaches for me.
Studies suggest that migraines start after overactive nerve cells release signals that trigger a person’s trigeminal nerve – which sends feeling to the face and head area. This forces the body to let go of chemicals such as serotonin as well as something called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) which creates swelling in the blood vessels in the lining of a person’s brain. After that happens, neurotransmitters then can start to cause inflammation – which is when the pain flares up.
Medical Marijuana Products that Provide Relief for Migraine Sufferers
Good news for migraine sufferers though! Cannabis can provide an alternative to the traditional blood-thinning pain relief medications. Although each person will respond differently, studies suggest that having a high concentration of THC is critical in helping to alleviate the pain of a migraine. Below I give further insight on the various types of cannabis products that can help alleviate migraines:
Recommended Methods of Consumption for Migraine Sufferers
Inhalation (Immediate onset, duration: 2ish hours, great for immediate relief and breakthrough pain)
Flower, Concentrates & Cartridges: Look for hybrid strains containing moderate to high levels of THC with a lower level of CBD.
Tinctures (Onset: 15-60 minutes, Duration: 4-6 hours, great for extended relief). Tinctures are typically a highly concentrated form of cannabis, dosed under the tongue via an oil dropper. May also be used along with inhalation methods.
Edibles (Onset: 30 – 90 minutes,
Duration: 6-12 hours)
Research on the efficacy of edibles for migraine relief is pretty limited. Edibles typically have a more systemic effect on a person’s body which can often provide full body pain relief, but there is little evidence to speak to specific relief of migraine pain.
Reminder, people respond differently to consumption methods and products – it is best to keep a journal of your personal experiences to find the best products and routine to provide you the most relief. If you are looking to move away from your traditional pharmaceutical routine in favor of medical cannabis or you are looking to supplement your traditional treatments with cannabis, or maybe you’d just like a little hands-on help finding what might work for you – you can speak with one of the ladies at Midwest CannaConcierge where our Cannabis Advisors and Pharmacist are happy to answer any of your questions!
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