Endocannabinoids also activate receptors in the brainstem that promote pain relief and act as a mechanism for dulling the effects of the neurological attack. A recent study conducted by the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus further supports the use of cannabis as a treatment for migraines. The researchers found evidence that suggests cannabis can even reduce the frequency of migraines in participants, noting that migraines were reduced from over ten a month to less than five a month. A majority of participants—103 out of 121—reported a decrease in migraines overall. The noticeable results stemmed from both inhalation and ingestion of cannabis, though more immediate relief was felt via inhalation due to the delay in uptake from edibles. THC is particularly effective in crossing the blood-brain barrier. Inhaled THC undergoes a different metabolic process than when ingested because rather than passing through the stomach and liver, the THC travels directly to the brain. Researchers conducting the study believe that the diminution in pain levels and frequency could also be linked to serotonin and cannabinoids, which interact with the chemicals in cannabis in a natural biological process. The gains do not stop at migraines, either; other studies have revealed cannabis’s positive effect in treating mental health issues as well as neurodegenerative diseases.
Patient experience and clinical research show that both the pharmaceutical and cannabis-based medications can provide relief from the symptoms of a migraine headache. Combined with other medications aimed at treating related symptoms such as nausea and dizziness, the pharmaceutical options are fairly effective despite associated adverse side effects. Yet, as research continues to grow in the field of medical cannabis, due to the easing of laws and classifications, so does the availability of its practical applications. The studies mentioned above show that cannabis helps with both the treatment and ultimate prevention of migraines, helping to relieve symptoms during a migraine episode and reducing the frequency of migraines. This is contrary to the prescription options, which are generally more effective if taken previous to the onset of the initial pain and must be taken more often because their effects are not often long-lasting. Another reported benefit of medical cannabis is that the chemical structure of the plant itself interacts with the systems and chemicals in the human body in a natural way, so it does not disrupt major biological processes in any form. The use of cannabis in treating migraines is only one small step in the advancement of cannabis as an effective medical treatment option, and there is a lot left to be studied in regards to the breadth of its impact. Hopefully, as the availability of resources and legal acceptance expands, researchers will be able to study the advantageous aspects of cannabis and the ways in which it can treat issues within the brain, including migraines.
So if you’re burdened by chronic and critical migraines, you should consider cannabis as a viable resource, especially as its use in medicine is growing increasingly more accepted and available. Start by talking with a medical cannabis doctor to get detailed information on how to use cannabis to treat your migraines, including dosage and administration methods. (Not sure how to find a cannabis doctor near you? Get in touch with us.)
Have you or someone you know used cannabis as an alternative to other migraine medications? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Migraine Information: Migraines and Medical Marijuana Treatments
If you suffer from migraine headaches, you’re not alone. About 12 percent of the U.S. population gets them. Migraines are recurring attacks of moderate to severe pain. The pain is throbbing or pulsing, and is often on one side of the head. During migraines, people are very sensitive to light and sound. They may also become nauseated and vomit.
Recent years have brought a wealth of new scientific understanding regarding how medical marijuana or cannabis can be beneficial for treating migraines.
Migraine is three times more common in women than in men. Some people can tell when they are about to have a migraine because they see flashing lights or zigzag lines or they temporarily lose their vision.
Many things can trigger a migraine. These include
- Lack of food or sleep
- Exposure to light
- Hormonal changes (in women)
Doctors used to believe migraines were linked to the opening and narrowing of blood vessels in the head. Now they believe the cause is related to genes that control the activity of some brain cells. Medicines can help prevent migraine attacks or help relieve symptoms of attacks when they happen. For many people, treatments to relieve stress can also help.
Migraine is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches often in association with a number of autonomic nervous system symptoms.
Brocco-Carrot (Serves 1)
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- 2 – Carrots
- 1 – Apple
Beet (Serves 1 or 2)
- 2 – Beets, tops intact
- 2 – Carrots
- 2 – Apples
Cannabinoids block release of serotonin from platelets induced by plasma from migraine patients.
The effects were assessed of delta’THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) and CBD and DMHP-CBD (the non-psychomimetic components of marijuana derivatives) on 14C labelled serotonin release from normal platelets, when incubated with patient’s plasma obtained during migraine attack. A statistically significant inhibitory effect (p greater than 0.005) of 14C serotonin release was found at 10(-5)M, 10(-6)M, 10(-7)M delta’THC concentrations. Plasma of migraine patients obtained in attack-free periods revealed no significant inhibitory effect on 14C serotonin release from normal platelets using the same delta’THC concentration. CBD and DMHP-CBD had no significant inhibitory effect on 14C serotonin release from normal platelets when tested either at migraine-free period plasma or plasma obtained during migraine attack.
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?
Ethan B. Russo’s paper of December 1, 2003 explored the concept of a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) underlying the pathophysiology of migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other functional conditions alleviated by clinical cannabis.
Available literature was reviewed, including searches via the National Library of medicine database and other sources.
A review of the literature indicates that significant progress has been made since Dr. Ethan B. Russo’s landmark paper, just ten years ago (February 2, 2004). Investigation at that time suggested that cannabinoids can block spinal, peripheral and gastrointestional mechanisms that promote pain in headache, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and muscle spasm.
Subsequent research has confirmed that underlying endocannabinoid deficiencies indeed play a role in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and a growing list of other medical conditions. Clinical experience is bearing this out. Further research and especially, clinical trials will further demonstrate the usefulness of medical cannabis. As legal barriers fall and scientific bias fades this will become more apparent.
Who is using cannabis as a medicine and why: an exploratory study.
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, London, Ontario, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article reports on an exploratory study of medical cannabis users. Interviews were completed with 50 self-identified medical cannabis users recruited through notices in newspapers and on bulletin boards. They reported using cannabis for a variety of conditions including HIV-AIDS-related problems, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, menstrual cramps, migraine, narcotic addiction as well as everyday aches, pains, stresses and sleeping difficulties. A majority also used cannabis for recreational purposes, and many were longer-term cannabis users. However, there were some notable exceptions. Almost all smoked cannabis and many did so two to three times a day. Few admitted negative experiences with cannabis, although some problems evident to the researchers were not clearly admitted. Those who told their doctors about their medical cannabis use found doctors noncommittal or supportive. The results raise questions about the definition of medical cannabis use and about policies that might be developed to accommodate such use. Limitations of the study are noted and further research suggested. Research priorities include population surveys, studies involving larger, more representative samples of medical cannabis users and studies of medical cannabis use among people with HIV-AIDS.
Cannabinoids and hallucinogens for headache.
- Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA. email@example.com
Hallucinogens and most cannabinoids are classified under schedule 1 of the Federal Controlled Substances Act 1970, along with heroin and ecstacy. Hence they cannot be prescribed by physicians, and by implication, have no accepted medical use with a high abuse potential. Despite their legal status, hallucinogens and cannabinoids are used by patients for relief of headache, helped by the growing number of American states that have legalized medical marijuana. Cannabinoids in particular have a long history of use in the abortive and prophylactic treatment of migraine before prohibition and are still used by patients as a migraine abortive in particular. Most practitioners are unaware of the prominence cannabis or “marijuana” once held in medical practice. Hallucinogens are being increasingly used by cluster headache patients outside of physician recommendation mainly to abort a cluster period and maintain quiescence for which there is considerable anecdotal success. The legal status of cannabinoids and hallucinogens has for a long time severely inhibited medical research, and there are still no blinded studies on headache subjects, from which we could assess true efficacy.