A migraine is an excruciating type of headache that is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as extreme light sensitivity, nausea, and even vomiting. Some migraines are so severe that they can cause people to completely halt their daily lives. Medical marijuana, or cannabis, might be a solution for many migraine sufferers.
Statistics from the Migraine Research Foundation estimate that more than 10% of the population suffers from migraines, making it one of the top 20 debilitating medical conditions in the world. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, someone in the United States goes to the emergency room every 10 seconds as a result of migraine, with more than 90% of those suffering from the condition unable to function in a normal capacity.
The use of medical marijuana for migraines is not a new concept. A 1998 study by the neurology department of the Western Montana Clinic explains that cannabis has been used for centuries to manage the effects of migraines. Ancient Greek, Chinese, Indian, Roman, and Egyptian literature all make reference to cannabis's efficacy for headaches, and it was the remedy of choice for migraine treatment well into the mid-twentieth century.
Tension headaches are the most common kind of headache that are associated with migraines. They can be triggered by fatigue, flu, alcohol use, eye strain, emotional stress and anxiety, insomnia, or excessive smoking. This type of headache is the result of the tightening of muscles in the neck and scalp, and medical marijuana, which helps in the relaxation of these muscles, can help manage the headache.
The use of cannabis may also help reduce the frequency of headaches since it can act as a prophylaxis or preventive measure. Usually, those who suffer from migraines have very little recourse for the treatment of this condition. Available medications often have unpleasant side effects which tend to cancel out any perceived benefits.
Cannabis acts as an analgesic and can help in the reduction of the pain from migraines. The reduction of endocannabinoids is suspected to be an underlying reason for migraines. A migraine trigger sets off a chemical reaction in the brain, causing the release of endocannabinoids to maintain balance. In individuals where this component is lacking, a dilation of blood vessels will result in intense migraine pain, which may explain the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in managing migraine.
Russo, E. (n.d.). Cannabis for migraine treatment: The once and future prescription? An historical and scientific review. Retrieved June 26, 2015, from http://www.maps.org/research-archive/mmj/russo_98_migraine_pain.pdf
Tension headache: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2015, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000797.htm
Marijuana For Migraines. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-food/201309/marijuana-migraines
Smith, S., & Wagner, M. (n.d.). Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) revisited: Can this concept explain the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions? Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24977967