Medical marijuana has been found to be extremely effective at treating migraines. A 2016 study out of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado concluded that using medical marijuana could greatly reduce the frequency of migraine headaches.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy, included 121 adult participants. With the use of cannabis in multiple forms on a daily basis, the average number of migraines decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 per month. Overall 85% of participants reported fewer migraines, 19.8% reported that cannabis helped prevent their migraines, and 11.6% of participants said that medical marijuana stopped their migraines altogether. The study also identified that the inhalation of marijuana was the best administration method for fast migraine relief.
Marijuana and Migraines: The Endocannabinoid Connection
A 2008 study published in Neuroendocrinology Letters found that migraines are deeply connected with endocannabinoid function. The study stated that the possible cause of migraines could be an endocannabinoid deficiency, meaning cannabis could be extremely helpful in decreasing migraines by supplementing the body’s natural store of endocannabinoids.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been found to be very effective at treating migraines because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is also helpful at relieving migraine symptoms due to its ability to greatly reduce pain. CBD-heavy strains, however, help alleviate symptoms while keeping sufferers alert.
Most notably, because they have little to no psychoactivity, high CBD strains will allow a patient to get through the day without the feeling of being stoned. Most of the high CBD strains listed below do contain some THC however. Depending on how sensitive you are to THC, some marijuana strains may be borderline psychoactive. It will require a bit of trial and error to see which CBD strain works best in easing your migraines while keeping you on your toes during the day.
The Best CBD Marijuana Strains for Migraine Relief
Canna-Tsu is a hybrid strain that’s a mix of Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami. Canna-Tsu is known for its high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. It’s known to produce calming effects and mental clarity. Canna-Tsu helps reduce inflammation, which is often one of the most common causes of migraines. This marijuana strain is also well known for alleviating the pain associated with migraines and headaches.
Harlequin is a 75% sativa-dominant hybrid that has a 5:2 CBD to THC ratio. With about 4–7% THC and 8–16% CBD, Harlequin produces the feeling of a clear-headed alertness, which may help people get through their day. With its nice a balance of THC to CBD, this marijuana strain is very helpful for people that have high levels of pain associated with migraines. Harlequin is also known to be relaxing, but non-sedative and without the intense psychoactive high that comes with higher levels of THC.
ACDC is a high CBD strain that’s sativa-dominant. ACDC has a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio, with CBD levels as high as 19%. It’s known for its efficacy at reducing inflammation because of its high levels of CBD. This makes it effective at reducing the symptoms of migraines. ACDC is also good at reducing anxiety and depression. Due to its extremely low THC content, this marijuana strain isn’t likely to give you a psychoactive high.
Cannatonic is known for its low THC content, which is often below 6%, and its high CBD content, which is normally at about 6–17% and sometimes even higher. It’ss known for producing relaxing and uplifting effects. Cannatonic is acclaimed as one of the top medical marijuana strains because it’s great at treating headache and migraine pain with little to no psychoactive effects.
Sour Tsunami is specifically bred for its high CBD content, making it effective at reducing inflammation that’s a part of migraines. It’s a sativa-dominant hybrid with about 10% CBD and a THC content under 10%. Sour Tsunami is known for its ability to relieve pain associated with migraines. At a 1:1 ratio, this marijuana strain may induce psychoactive effects, although it will likely be at most a mild high.
Remedy is an indica strain with high levels of CBD—around 15%—and almost no THC—less than 1%. Remedy is known to produce a mellow, relaxed state. Its high CBD levels make this marijuana strain good at helping reduce the inflammation that causes migraines. Remedy is most akin to ACDC as it’s known to help with pain without the head high that’s associated with higher levels of THC.
Stephen Hawking Kush
Stephen Hawking Kush, also known as SHK, is an indica-dominant hybrid. Stephen Hawking Kush is known for its high levels of CBD. It’s known to be soothing and relaxing. Its also known for its ability to keep pain at bay despite having low levels of THC. There are three slightly different phenotypes of SHK, and they’re all known to be extremely effective at treating migraines. Also known to help people with fatigue, SHK keeps people alert even as it relieves their pain symptoms.
Hawaiian Dream is known to be an uplifting sativa strain with high levels of CBD. It usually has about double the amount of CBD as it does THC. Hawaiian Dream is known to be a good remedy for treating the pain and inflammation of migraines. This marijuana strain is also known to provide relief without inducing brain fog, so it’s extremely helpful for the daytime treatment of migraine symptoms.
Sweet and Sour Widow
Sweet and Sour Widow is a 70% indica-dominant cannabis strain. It typically has a ratio of 1:1 of CBD to THC. This makes this cannabis strain effective through its pain-relieving qualities of THC while remaining borderline or mild in its psychoactive effect. Meanwhile, the CBD contained in Sweet and Sour Widow provides the added benefit of anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve migraine symptoms while keeping a clear head.
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If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.