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Relieving Migraine Using Marijuana

One of the most common yet debilitating medical conditions that millions of people all over the world suffer from is migraine. It is not just your ordinary type of headache, but a more complicated and severe type which usually affects a wider portion of the head, and lasts for hours and sometimes even up to days. Migraine also comes with a host of attendant symptoms and physical conditions, such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to particular scents, sounds, and strong light.

Because of these symptoms, migraine sufferers are mostly unable to function normally throughout the day, especially if the manifestations are severe. Its effects are not just physical, but mental and emotional as well, because those who experience migraine headaches feel helpless and frustrated about their symptoms which are extremely painful and uncomfortable. People who experience migraine headaches are also less productive at work and in society.

It is difficult to pinpoint the actual causes of migraine, but they are believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people report getting migraines from eating certain foods or during extreme changes in the weather. There is also no exact cure for migraine. Doctors usually prescribe painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, and address other symptoms such as vomiting with other appropriate medication. Caffeine has also been found to help relieve migraine, mostly due to its association with the nerves and blood vessels in the brain.

Medical Marijuana for Migraines

One alternative form of treating migraines has grown in popularity in the past few years, and that is the use of medical marijuana or cannabis. While marijuana is still largely considered an illegal drug in many parts of the world, leaps and bounds have already been achieved in terms of making medical marijuana acceptable and widely used for diseases such as migraine.

The fact is that marijuana in ancient civilizations  has been widely used for centuries, precisely as a form of treatment for headaches and migraines. It is only in recent history that marijuana has developed a negative reputation, which has led to its stature as a banned substance in many countries around the world. Thankfully, with the help of genuine medical marijuana users and proponents, the worldview on this medicinal plant has been shifting. Today, almost half of the United States has already passed some form of legislation allowing the purchase, use, and distribution of marijuana or cannabis for medical purposes.

Many other countries are also more progressive and have already been allowing medical marijuana or cannabis for quite some time now. These are Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Australia is also currently studying and passing some laws allowing marijuana for medical purposes. 

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How Marijuana Helps Migraine Sufferers

In order to understand how marijuana can benefit patients such as those suffering from migraines, it is important to know more about the herb’s chemical content and composition. The marijuana or cannabis plant is actually prized for substances called cannabinoids, which is in great quantity in its flowers and buds. Cannabinoids are useful for humans because we have our very own endocannabinoid system or ECS, which is related to our various bodily functions and conditions such as mood, memory, pain, etc.

Thus, taking in marijuana has such a profound effect on our bodies because the plant’s cannabinoids somehow enhance the levels of natural cannabinoids in our own ECS. It is important to note though that there are more than a hundred types of cannabinoids, but those in particular that are relevant to humans and diseases are cannabidiol or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. CBD is believed to be the more therapeutic cannabinoid that can treat or address diseases, while THC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive “high” from smoking or ingesting marijuana.

However, this is not to say that THC has no therapeutic or beneficial effect at all. Many patients, especially those that suffer from migraines, reportedly benefit from THC because it also gives them a sense of well-being and relaxation, thus relieving them of the pain and discomfort from severe headache. Many medical marijuana or cannabis products offer a balanced formulation of CBD and THC in order to cover a wide range of diseases or physical conditions.

The Endocannabinoid System and Health

Understanding the human endocannabinoid system is important in further exploring the use of medical marijuana for migraine headaches, because the ECS is responsible for a lot of the workings of the human body especially with regard to the nervous system and the cellular levels of physiological activity. One study, for instance, has investigated the power of the human ECS on stress adaptation.

The research starts on the premise that a particular ECS receptor, CB1, interacts with a gene associated with migraine called CNR1. It has been found that individuals with the gene who underwent increased life stress experienced an increased risk of headache and nausea—tantamount to migraine—and as such, those patients may be treated favorably with medical marijuana, which increases endocannabinoids in the body’s natural ECS.

This study is just one among those that slowly but surely help in establishing a clear and physiological link between marijuana and human diseases. While admittedly, there is still a lack of strong and established academic studies on the effects of marijuana or cannabis on diseases, anecdotes from users have been prompting medical professionals and scientists to continuously pursue research, studies, and experiments. Thus, the body of scientific evidence on marijuana’s medicinal effects is slowly building up already.

Medical Marijuana Studies on Migraine

instance, a study has already been conducted on the effects of marijuana on migraine frequency among adults, with positive results. The study involved 121 adults diagnosed with migraine headache and given medical marijuana as treatment by a doctor for the period of around 4 years. It was found that the frequency of migraine headaches among these subjects decreased from around 10 occurrences per month to just around 4 to 5 occurrences. Most of the patients utilized more than one form of medical marijuana and used it every day. They reported as well that migraine attacks were generally prevented or even aborted with such use of medical marijuana.

Another study observed improvement of migraine-like symptoms using medical marijuana or cannabis. There is the documented case of a particular female patient suffering from extended idiopathic intracranial hypertension, the symptoms of which are related or associated with migraine, such as frontal headaches, photophobia or sensitivity to light, transient blindness, and blind spots. After being administered marijuana through smoking, there was a reported improvement of such symptoms. Moreover, she was prescribed dronabinol, which is essentially a synthetic form of THC. The patient took 10 mg of the synthetic cannabinoid twice a day, and then lowered to 5 mg twice a day. Such regimen reportedly relieved all of her symptoms.

Marijuana and Other Diseases

The above-mentioned cases are just a few of the studies that help clearly establish the benefits of medical marijuana especially with regard to debilitating diseases and conditions such as migraine headaches. There are many other studies as well that use marijuana for other diseases, such as cancer, HIV, and more. Medical cannabis has not been found to exactly stop or prevent these diseases, but rather help relieve the symptoms and physical illnesses that are associated with them.

Cancer patients, for instance, experience a lot of nausea, dizziness, and vomiting as well as sleeplessness, loss of weight and appetite, and chronic pain. These are mostly brought about by chemotherapy, which is the standard treatment for many types of malignancies. The irony is that chemotherapy causes even more discomfort and suffering for patients rather than the cancer itself. This is why many cancer patients are users and advocates of medical marijuana, because the treatment helps improve their physical and mental well-being despite chemotherapy or other pharmaceutical drugs.

Other major diseases that are being closely studied in connection with medical marijuana or cannabis use include Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, Crohn’s, epilepsy, and many others. However, even seemingly ordinary or common ailments are greatly improved by medical marijuana, such as insomnia, hypertension, depression, anxiety, arthritis, and many others. Medical marijuana is also being explored for use by children or young patients, since it is a plant-based treatment and may be relatively safer compared to pharmacological treatments.

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Medical Marijuana Products

If you think you or a loved one suffering from migraines or other diseases may benefit from medical marijuana, there are still a number of things to consider carefully before you embark on this alternative mode of treatment. First, you need to understand the particular laws and regulations in the state that you live in regarding buying, possessing, and using medical marijuana or cannabis. Not all statutes are the same across the country, so it’s best to check and be aware of the limitations and regulations of medical marijuana or cannabis in the place you live in.

Next, you also need to consider how best to take in or ingest medical marijuana. There are many types of medical cannabis products and many ways by which you can take them. Each method has its own particular effect, advantages, and disadvantages. For example, the most common and widely known way of taking in marijuana is by smoking it, as this is also the most popular method of recreational use. Note that smoking marijuana produces a psychoactive effect because of the THC that is triggered when marijuana is applied with heat.

Liquid forms of marijuana are also available and are some of the most preferred forms of medical marijuana primarily because they are easily calibrated and consumed. Cannabis oil is a popular liquid product and one of the most potent because it is metabolized directly by the liver. Cannabis oil can be ingested directly under the tongue or mixed with regular food such as salads, soups, and other edibles. Many medical marijuana users prefer cannabis oil because they are able to incorporate it easily and conveniently into their daily lifestyle and diet.

Other liquid cannabis products such as extracts can also be smoked through handheld vaporizers or specialized devices. There are also some medical marijuana products that are available in the traditional form of medicines such as tablets, pills, patches, and even suppositories. The most important thing to consider when purchasing medical marijuana is its quality. While there are many retailers and sellers especially on the Internet, purchase only from reputable sources where you can be sure that the products genuinely contain marijuana content.

You also need to make sure that no harmful chemicals were used in manufacturing the products, such as poisonous solvents which may have been used in distilling cannabis oil. You may also want to consider going for certified organic marijuana products. Similar to organic vegetables and fruits, organic marijuana products come from marijuana plants that have been raised and cultivated without pesticides or harmful chemicals.

The Future of Medical Cannabis Treatment

By many indications, medical marijuana or cannabis seems to be the next big thing in the treatment of diseases such as migraine headaches and many other illnesses. However, while it may be considered a “magic pill” that can solve a lot of different medical conditions and symptoms, prudent use and strong regulation are still needed in order to make sure that it is not abused.

Medical marijuana users themselves would be the first to know and advocate the right and regulated use of marijuana products so that it can be accepted more by society and more countries may allow its use. Eventually, the goal is to also have medical marijuana recognized as a treatment covered under health insurance programs, especially those of the government such as Medicard and Medicaid. Such a development would ensure that people have greater access to effective healthcare solutions. The bottom line is that the benefits of medical marijuana should be harnessed properly so that more and more people can benefit from them in the long run.