Cannabis for migraine: treatment and prevention

Research says yes. Here’s how to use THC, CBD, and cannabis to treat migraine and severe headaches.

If you are having migraine attacks, know that you are not alone.

One in six people in the United States can experience frequent migraines and severe headaches, and some research suggests an even higher prevalence in people:

  • between 18 and 44 years old
  • unemployed
  • living with a disability
  • the elderly
  • those whose family income is less than $35,000 per year

Medications are commonly prescribed to treat migraine, but many alternative therapies are available and emerging, including cannabis.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made certain hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also keep in mind that the FDA has not approved non-prescription CBD products and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

“Migraine is a well-documented indication of cannabis use,” says Dr. Jordan Tishler, professor at Harvard Medical School, president of the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists and CEO of inhaleMD.

According to Tishler, the mixture of chemicals found in cannabis, which includes cannabidiol, may be more effective against migraine than THC or CBD extract. THC is a chemical compound in cannabis with a psychoactive effect that can make you feel “high”. CBD, on the other hand, does not have this effect. psychoactive effect.

“The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) and produces its own endocannabinoids, which are involved in homeostasis throughout the body,” says Dr. Jeff Chen, CEO and co-founder of Radicle Science and former executive director of Radicle Science. UCLA Cannabis Research. Initiative.

ECS dysfunction may be a factor in the development of migraine. And certain cannabinoids can help remedy this.

“Cannabis compounds, such as THC, mimic the actions of the body’s own endocannabinoids, where CBD [cannabidiol] It has been shown to potentially boost the body’s endocannabinoids,” says Chen.

Anecdotal evidence supports the effectiveness of cannabis for chronic migraine. For example, Tishler’s patients reported a decrease in migraine frequency and intensity over the time they were treated with cannabis.

From oil tinctures to gummies and flowers, there are many ways to consume cannabis. But some may be more effective than others in treating migraine.

Timing can be critical when it comes to migraine prevention. The sooner you can ward it off, the better off you will be.

Edibles and tinctures are slow acting. And despite its rapid onset, Tishler doesn’t recommend smoking cannabis because it can make headaches worse and cause other unwanted side effects. Instead, he says the preferred approach is inhalation via vaporizing the flowers.

A 2020 study of self-reported participants suggests that cannabis use reduces headache and migraine severity by 50%, with concentrates being more effective than flowers. In this study, men found more symptom relief than other genders.

Chen notes that there isn’t enough data to suggest a form of CBD for migraine, but orally ingestible CBD products tend to be more accessible. If you’re going to try a CBD product for headaches, he recommends trying to buy from a credible brand that’s transparent about its ingredients and provides a certificate of analysis.

According to Chen, migraine medications can often be ineffective and can cause side effects, such as:

“Migraine patients typically delay taking medication or avoid it altogether, which may explain why [they’re] gravitating towards alternative therapies, including cannabis,” he explains.

As with all treatment methods, high-THC cannabis has potential risks and side effects to consider before trying, including:

  • lower birth weight of babies when used by mother during pregnancy
  • lower cognitive function and educational attainment when used in adolescence
  • a correlation between cannabis and schizophrenia for people with a genetic predisposition to the disease

Chen advises that certain demographics may also want to avoid CBD and hemp (low-THC cannabis), including people who are:

  • Pregnant
  • try to conceive
  • breastfeeding

If you have liver disease or are taking medication with a grapefruit warning, you may want to consider working with a qualified cannabis clinician who can guide you in the safe and effective use of grapefruit products. of CBD and cannabis.

Tishler adds that cannabis treatment can pose a problem for people with heart disease and mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder.

Other side effects may include:

Tishler adds, “By using cannabis therapeutically, controlling frequency and dose, the risk of these problems is greatly reduced.”

Cannabis can help prevent and treat migraine with minimal risk and side effects, according to anecdotal evidence and research suggesting its effectiveness as an alternative treatment.

However, larger and more rigorous studies with human trials are still needed to verify this.

If you’re considering trying medical cannabis for migraine prevention or treatment, consider consulting your doctor or therapist to see if it might be right for you. Then you can visit a recreational or medical marijuana (MMJ) dispensary in a legal state and buy cannabis products from reputable sellers.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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