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Medical Marijuana and Chronic Migraine

Migraine headaches afflict 28 million Americans, yet they remain largely undertreated and under-diagnosed. Less than half the sufferers are diagnosed by their doctors. Migraine headaches can be extremely severe and debilitating, and can cause significant pain and other side effects for hours or even days.

Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms or signs (auras), such as flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg. A migraine is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can also be a financial burden for those suffering from the disease. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Direct annual costs associated with migraine are estimated to be in excess of $2.4 billion, and indirect costs associated with migraine are anticipated to exceed $30 billion each year.

Although there is no cure for migraine headaches, medications can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Many of the medications currently used for migraine headaches have significant side effects and often do not prevent or relieve all of the symptoms. But medical marijuana has been found by many patients to prevent or lessen the intolerable pain and other symptoms of this condition. Additionally, recent research has shown that THC, the main chemical component in marijuana, can help alleviate pain, nausea and vomiting associated with migraine headaches. THC can also inhibit the release of serotonin during an acute migraine attack, which reduces symptoms of pain.

Methods of Taking Medical Cannabis for Migraine Headaches

There are many ways to take medical marijuana for migraines. Some experts believe that smoking a joint or using a vaporizer is best, because the medicine works faster. You need to carefully observe how you feel after you medicate. Determine if you feel better, worse or about the same — and then adjust your dosage accordingly. Whether you smoke, vape or eat your cannabis, it’s extremely important to start slowly. If you take too much, you could actually increase the chance of another headache. Here are a few ways you can use medical cannabis for migraines, and some of the pros and cons of each approach.

  • Smoking – This is the way most people use medical marijuana for migraines. You simply take a certain amount of weed and either roll it into a joint or put it in a bong or pipe. This method gets the marijuana in your system faster than any other, and you’ll know pretty quickly whether or not you’ll need more. The downside to smoking is that it can affect your lungs, although research indicates that smoking weed does less damage to the lungs than smoking tobacco.
  • Vaporizers — Using a vaporizer, or “vaping,” is similar to smoking but with fewer potentially adverse effects. While it causes less damage to the lungs, it can be quite expensive. You’ll also need to charge your vaporizer before using it, which takes more time.
  • Eating — Many people choose to eat their cannabis rather than smoke it. The main disadvantage is that it takes quite a long time for the weed to take effect. Many people suffering from migraines also have a condition known as gastric stasis, which means it takes the stomach longer to empty its contents. As a result, people with this problem may not absorb the amount of marijuana they need to help with their migraine.
  • THC capsules — Marinol is THC in pill form. Some people swear by it, while others say the effectiveness of the pill depends on when they last ate and how well their digestive tract processed the medication.

Certain strains of weed also tend to work better than others when it comes to helping relieve migraine symptoms. For example, a strain known as Girl Scout Cookies is preferred by many smokers, whether they are just starting out or have smoked medicinal weed for a long time. Users typically say that it has a sweet scent and provides a euphoric, relaxing feeling. The strain has a THC percentage of between 17 and 28 percent. Sour Diesel is another popular strain. It’s been around since the early 1990s. Also called “Sour D,” it gets its name from its pungent aroma that many liken to diesel fuel. It delivers a dreamy, energizing high as well as long-lasting relief from pain.

If you suffer from migraine headaches and would like to learn how medical marijuana can help your condition, can help. We can connect you with hundreds of quality marijuana doctors across the country in all legal marijuana states and ensure you are in compliance with your state laws. Book an appointment today and let us help improve your quality of life!


This information is not provided by medical professionals and is intended only to complement, and not to replace or contradict, any health or medical advice or information provided by healthcare professionals.  If you have any questions, please contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.


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