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Medical Marijuana and Headaches, Tension

What Is Headaches, Tension?

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. The International Headache Society divides tension headaches into two categories - episodic and chronic. Episodic tension headache suffers have 15 or fewer headache days per month while chronic tension headache suffers typically suffer from headaches more than 15 days per month. Although most people suffer from a tension headache occasionally, a small percentage of the population suffers from episodic or chronic tension headaches. Tension headaches are not the same as migraine headaches. Tension headaches are generally characterized by mild to moderate pain that feels like a tight band, or intense pressure, throughout the head, neck or face muscles. A tension headache often feels as though the muscles in your head are tightening or contracting. Despite the fact that tension headaches are one of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions, the exact pathology, or cause, of tension headaches remains elusive. Traditional treatment for tension headache suffers often includes over the counter or prescription pain relief medication, anti-depressant medication, anti-anxiety medication, isolating and removing any known triggers, life-style changes, and relaxing to reduce tension and stress when possible. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. The International Headache Society divides tension headaches into two categories - episodic and chronic. Episodic tension headache suffers have 15 or fewer headache days per month while chronic tension headache suffers typically suffer from headaches more than 15 days per month. Although most people suffer from a tension headache occasionally, a small percentage of the population suffers from episodic or chronic tension headaches. Tension headaches are not the same as migraine headaches. Tension headaches are generally characterized by mild to moderate pain that feels like a tight band, or intense pressure, throughout the head, neck or face muscles. A tension headache often feels as though the muscles in your head are tightening or contracting. Despite the fact that tension headaches are one of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions, the exact pathology, or cause, of tension headaches remains elusive.

Medical Marijuana and Headaches, Tension

Medical Marijuana and Tension Headaches

As the name implies, tension headaches are often brought on by stress and tension in the sufferer’s daily life. Specific triggers, or causes of the stress and tension will vary by patient. The use of medical marijuana is a viable method for reducing stress and tension in many patients. The calming effect experienced by many medical marijuana patients is well documented both throughout history and by current clinical studies.Although traditional treatment for tension headaches includes the use of over the counter pain medications or prescription pain medications, both come with significant negative side effects. Even over the counter pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and cause serious damage to internal organs with prolonged use. In addition, frequent use of over the counter pain medications can actually cause another type of headache known as “rebound” headaches. Rebound headaches occur when a patient uses over the counter pain medication with frequency and then suddenly stops, causing a “rebound” headache. Pain relief, anti-depression and anti-anxiety prescription medications carry the risk of overdose, dependency and addiction as well as a host of other potential negative side effects. Medical marijuana may provide the same pain relief without the same negative side effects.

Medical Marijuana and Tension Headaches: Clinical Evidence

Although the pathology, or cause, of tension headaches is not known, some studies suggest that muscles tension or inflammation in the muscles of the head, neck, and face may contribute to, or cause, tension headaches. One of the major components of medical marijuana, Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been proven by numerous clinical studies to contain properties that relieve inflammation. Along with reducing inflammation, CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety in patients which may lead to a reduction in stress or tension in a tension headache sufferer.Historical records show that marijuana has been used for centuries to treat headaches. Its calming effect and ability to reduce, or eradicate, the symptoms of a headache were accepted by the medical community well into the 20th century. More recently, clinical studies have shown that medical marijuana affects a brain substance known as anandamide. When the THC in marijuana reacts with anandamide, it produces a calming, relaxing effect that permeates the entire body in much the same way that traditional anti-anxiety or anti-depression medications work. Medical marijuana, however, does not increase serotonin levels as do many prescription medications used to treat tension headaches.

Although centuries of anecdotal evidence exists for the proposition that medical marijuana can help tension headaches suffers, numerous recent clinical studies also support this contention. While some medical marijuana patients actually report an increase in anxiety when using medical marijuana, many report a marked reduction in anxiety and tension. Individual body chemistry appears to be the key that determines whether medical marijuana increases or reduces anxiety and tension. For those who experience a decrease in anxiety and tension, medical marijuana can be a valid medical alternative to traditional medications and an additional tool to any lifestyle changes aimed at reducing stress and anxiety.

Medical Cannabis and Migraine Headaches

People who suffer from migraines understand how devastating they can be. A migraine can immediately put you down and make performing routine tasks extremely difficult. Medical cannabis for headaches has shown to be an effective option for many of the more than 30 million people who suffer from this condition in the U.S.

What Are Migraine Headaches?

A migraine is a type of headache that typically results in a pulsing or throbbing sensation affecting one side of the head. It can lead to extreme sensitivity to sound and/or light, and also nausea and vomiting. Attacks can lead to pain that lasts for hours or even days, and are often accompanied by flashes of light and tingling in the arm, leg or face. Migraines can affect anyone at any age — even in childhood.

In some cases, people will experience certain warning signs that a migraine attack may be imminent. These include:

    • Cravings for food
    • Substantial mood changes
    • Stiffness in the neck
    • An increase in thirst as well as urination
    • Yawning frequently
    • Constipation

After an attack, the sufferer can feel drained and confused. Other problems include weakness and dizziness. Triggers for migraines can sometimes include hormonal changes, certain foods, wine and other alcoholic beverages, stress, intense physical exertion and more.

Migraine Treatment Options

There are an estimated 30 possible causes of migraine headaches, and about a dozen types of drugs used to treat them. Sedatives and tranquilizers are two of the traditional medications doctors prescribe for the condition, but in emergency situations, powerful drugs such as Ergotamine and Demerol are injected in order to control attacks. Recently, however, research studies have shown that medical marijuana for headaches can be effective. This is extremely important, given how difficult it can be to complete any sort of marijuana-related research in the U.S. due to government roadblocks that make it hard to obtain cannabis. A study conducted at the University of Colorado showed that people who used medical cannabis for headaches saw the number of attacks reduced by more than half. Of the 121 migraine patients who participated in the study, 103 of them reported fewer attacks each month. Only three participants reported more migraine attacks during the trial.

The patients used marijuana by either eating it or smoking it. Most preferred the latter option because they felt effects sooner than those who ate cannabis. This is a significant study, because it could eventually lead to more research — and possibly bolster advocating for medical marijuana in states where it’s not yet legal.

A Powerful Argument

This study is the latest in a long line of research that shows the power of cannabis as medicine. The drug has already shown effectiveness in treating myriad conditions, such as anxiety, epilepsy, stress and many others. No one is saying that cannabis is any sort of panacea for migraines, but the study clearly shows that it helped participants function more normally and feel better.

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