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How Cannabis Can Help Fight Migraines

For people suffering from it, migraine can get in the way of living a normal, productive life. One attack typically causes throbbing pain on the side of the head that, if left untreated, can last up to 72 hours. In addition to the debilitating pain, it is usually accompanied with vomiting, nausea, and sensitivity to sound and light. This is enough to put a person out of commission for an entire day.

For people with chronic migraine or those who have attacks more than 15 days every month, this condition can prevent them from holding stable jobs, connecting with people, or maintaining healthy relationships. The same is true even for those with episodic migraine.

Migraine: An Invisible Public Health Concern

Headache disorders, including migraine, are among the most common disorders of the nervous system, so much that they are often underestimated and undertreated globally. In the US alone, more than 37 million people are reported to suffer from migraines. Some migraine studies even estimate that this condition affects up to 13 percent of adults in the country, of which 2 to 3 million are chronic sufferers.

While most people may not consider migraine as a serious condition, it remains a public health concern. It is responsible for high population levels of ill health and disability, and it ranks as the 6th highest cause of years lost due to disability (YLD) on a global scale. Often, an attack lasts for hours and leaves the person in severe, disabling pain. This causes loss of work or school days, as most migraine sufferers are in their late teens to early 50s -- or their most productive years. Aside from contributing to loss of productivity, it also adds financial costs from consultations with medical practitioners. In fact, headache disorders form a third of all neurological consultations.

Despite these numbers, people troubled by migraine do not get adequate care, many choosing to forgo consultation in the event of an attack. In order to reduce the occurrence of migraine, many resort to changing their lifestyles and tracking and avoiding their triggers. Whenever an attack occurs, many are reliant on over-the-counter medications. However, some medications for migraine have unwanted side effects like sleepiness and fatigue, difficulty in thinking, or nausea. The effects sometimes hamper the productivity of the user, making these drugs less than attractive to some chronic migraine sufferers. 

Research And Studies Show That Cannabis May Be Able To Help With Migraines.

How Cannabis Can Help You Become More Productive

One of the main challenges of finding a cure for migraine is the lack of certainty as to what really causes this condition. In the past, doctors believed that migraine is caused by the narrowing of the blood vessels in the head. These days, however, the consensus is that it is due to the genes that control some brain cells. During an attack, pain-producing inflammatory substances are released around the blood vessels and nerve in the head. This causes the disabling, throbbing pain.

For some people who live with chronic headaches, marijuana is a welcome alternative to over-the-counter and even prescription drugs. A 2016 study conducted in 2 medical marijuana specialty clinics in Colorado reported that the use of medical marijuana coincided with a significant reduction of migraine frequency. Of the 121 participants in the said study, 48 reported positive results that included prevention and reduction of migraine headaches. Decreased frequency of migraine was reported by 24 patients, and aborted migraine was reported by 14.

This effect is attributed to the cannabinoids found in marijuana.

Cannabinoids refer to substances that interact with specific receptors in the brain and the body. Called cannabinoid receptors, this network of protein loops controls how a person perceives pain. Marijuana is particularly rich in cannabinoids. There are 2 types of cannabinoids in marijuana that researchers are interested in for migraine relief: tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the main mind-altering substance in cannabis. Once THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors, it affects the person’s perception of sense and time, coordination, concentration, movement, and memory.  Cannabidiol or CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and actually blocks the high that THC brings. Once these cannabinoids are in the body, they seek out the receptors, calming down the pain signals.

There has only been a handful of research devoted to the specifics of how cannabis consumption reduces and relieves migraine, but there are plenty of reports that support its positive effects. Many migraine sufferers who find relief in marijuana claimed that consuming it allowed them more control over the amount of medication they take. In addition, they also found that the plant produced fewer negative reactions and significantly reduced the frequency of attacks. This gives them the freedom to live a normal, productive life without being hampered by chronic pain.

The use of medical marijuana is rapidly gaining acceptance in many states in the US. In due time, this option will be available to all migraine sufferers who want an alternative source of relief. 

Alleviate Migraines. RELIEF Helps Your Body Feel Better.