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Hypertension Headaches

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Medical Marijuana and Hypertension Headaches

Research is beginning to show medical cannabis may potentially help alleviate symptoms of hypertension. In fact, recent studies, which you’ll learn more about later in this article, demonstrate your body’s internal cannabinoid system might just play a significant role in regulating your blood pressure. Because of this, medical marijuana for hypertension headaches is showing a lot of promise.

What Are Hypertension Headaches?

Hypertension headaches can occur through high blood pressure. But other than the headaches, there are rarely any other apparent signs of hypertension — which is where the condition’s nickname, “silent killer,” originated. Hypertension headaches aren’t chronic, but they can be severe. Usually, to trigger this type of headache, your blood pressure needs to be 200/100 or higher.

Unfortunately, since there aren’t other obvious symptoms indicating hypertension as the cause of these headaches, many individuals experiencing these headaches often self-medicate because they think they have a regular headache.

Often, an unusually intense headache that’s painful enough to send you to the doctor may be the first time you receive a hypertension diagnosis. Because of this, it’s essential to seek medical attention when you’re experiencing an abnormally painful headache.

Hypertension may lead to a range of symptoms and disorders, including:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Dull headaches
  • Dizziness

Hypertension headaches may cause pain ranging from mild to severe, depending on where your blood pressure stands when a headache occurs.

A good way to decide if your headache is due to hypertension is to check your blood pressure when your headache occurs. However, pain may also raise your blood pressure. Therefore, you should always consult with a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis of hypertension. It’s also the reason you should get your blood pressure checked frequently, or as often as your physician recommends.

Types of Hypertension Headaches

While there are not necessarily different types of hypertension headaches, there are different types of hypertension, including:

Malignant Hypertension

When you have a spike in your blood pressure rapidly and suddenly, it’s called malignant hypertension and is a good reason to get medical attention. Around 1 percent of individuals of all ages get malignant hypertension disorder. It seems to occur more in women with toxemia of pregnancy, younger adults and African-American men.

malignat hypertension

Hypertensive Encephalopathy

Hypertensive encephalopathy elevates your blood pressure to dangerous levels, potentially resulting in brain swelling, which may also lead to:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Worsened headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Coma

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

This condition is where you have high blood pressure in your skull, resulting in daily headaches. Obese women and women of childbearing age seem to get this the most. You may experience symptoms associated with idiopathic intracranial hypertension such as double vision, nausea, throbbing noise in your ears and obscured vision.

History of Hypertension Headaches

The relationship between hypertension and headaches has been a cause of debate for years, and concerns many patients. These days, in several medical science areas, research is typically exclusive to recent publications. Those conducting research tend to ignore information older than 20 years old.

For around a century, medical literature has been arguing the relationship between hypertension and headache. In a large 1913 clinical study, Dr. Theodore Janeway observed this relationship in hypertensive patients noting 160 mm Hg systolic blood pressure. He referred to “typical” hypertensive headaches as being non-migrainous and being present when waking, but resolving as the morning went on.

People found his descriptive case histories inaccurate, since they all had 230 mm Hg systolic pressures and malignant hypertension. Not to mention, he had one patient who seemed more likely to be in analgesic rebound.

Symptoms of Hypertension Headaches

When experiencing headaches, you feel pressure and pain throughout your head, neck and face. You may experience this as inward or outward pressing sensations. You may feel hot flushes in your body and heat in your head, along with sinus pressure in your face. It may feel like your head is going to explode.

Hypertension headaches may come with symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Floater-like images, auras and other visual symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Disorientation
  • Vertigo
  • Retina swelling
  • Lightheadedness
  • Audible sensations like buzzing or high-pitched sounds in your ears, or you may feel them throughout your body and in your head

Related symptoms that may appear at the same time as hypertensive headaches include:

  • Facial flushing
  • Nosebleeds
  • Irregular heartbeats at pulse points or in your chest

You may experience shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, restlessness and fatigue.

Effects of Hypertension Headaches

People who are experiencing regular headaches spend a great deal of their time in pain. Chronic headaches can disrupt your normal day-to-day activities and decrease your quality of life. They may cause physical distress, and they may also put a strain on work or school performance and relationships. Those suffering migraines — another type of chronic headache — are up to five times more likely to receive an anxiety or depression diagnosis.

One recent study linked chronic morning headaches with anxiety disorders and depression. Researchers claim there’s a historical link between waking up each morning with a headache and various sleep disorders like snoring, insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.

Certain types of chronic body pain, like severe non-migraine headaches, seem to link closely to depression. Because of this, pain treatments and depression often overlap.

Hypertension Headaches Statistics

Hypertension statistics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:

blood pressure statistics

Headache statistics from Statista reveal:

  • Severe headaches and migraines represent the fifth most common complaint in the world.
  • Eighteen percent of survey respondents reported suffering from headaches multiple times a month.

Current Treatments Available for Hypertension Headaches and Their Side Effects

Ways to help get your hypertension headaches under control and find some relief include:

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Treatments

People commonly use OTC medications like aspirin to treat headaches. However, you shouldn’t take aspirin with high blood pressure unless you have it well-controlled and are under the advisement of your doctor. If you have severe headaches, place a cool washcloth on your head and sit in a dark room to reduce the pain.


Adequately hydrating yourself is essential and will help prevent certain symptoms of headaches — like fainting, nausea and vomiting — from escalating. While treating the symptoms of your hypertension headaches will provide you with relief, the best way to treat these headaches is to go right to the root of the problem.


You can treat your hypertension headaches at home naturally by including specific foods in your diet. Inflammation causes some headaches. Certain foods can act as anti-inflammatory agents to improve circulation and reduce body inflammation. These anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Flaxseeds
  • Blueberries

Chances are, when you receive a hypertension diagnosis, your doctor will place you on an incredibly healthy and strict diet to regulate your blood pressure. A diet like this can also help keep your hypertension headaches at bay.


Your doctor may also recommend consistent exercise to help regulate your blood pressure. You need to start off with light physical exercises, and gradually intensify them once your body gets accustomed to physical activity and exercise.

Stress Reduction

Stress can cause hypertension. It also increases hypertension headache frequency. Therefore, to avoid hypertension headaches, cut down on or avoid stress altogether.

Treating the Underlying Problem

In many cases, to relieve your hypertension headache, you need to treat the underlying cause — hypertension. Your doctor can prescribe you certain medications to keep your blood pressure at normal levels.

One particular class of medicine for hypertension is antihypertensive medications. Some newer antihypertensive medications have different chemical structures than the older medications, but work pretty much the same way. Others produce a different effect in your body. Your doctor can tailor your treatment to control your blood pressure, deliver as few side effects as possible and protect against different complications.

A couple of antihypertensive medications include:

  • Nifedipine
  • Irbesartan
  • Candesartan
  • Felodipine

Side effects will obviously depend on the medication you take, but in general, they include weakness, dizziness, constipation, ankle or feet swelling and headache.

You can read about other types of hypertension medications on our high blood pressure content page.

Exercise, eating a healthy diet and taking hypertension drug can regulate and keep your blood pressure under control while simultaneously preventing the occurrence of hypertension headaches.

How and Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Hypertension Headaches

First, you need to be aware marijuana may influence blood pressure, depending on factors such as:

  • Age
  • Overall health
  • A prior heart condition
  • The cannabis strain you use

It can be hard to predict with certainty if or when your blood pressure will increase to a dangerous level with a dose of weed. Some novice cannabis users report a change in heart rate during their first few uses. However, this effect, if it occurs, only persists for several minutes and goes back to normal once the cannabis leaves your system. When not under the influence of medical pot, you shouldn’t have this effect at all.

There isn’t a known link between medical marijuana and heart disease, but it can worsen the condition if you already have it. Be sure your doctor is aware you have a heart condition if they recommend cannabis therapy. While having a heart condition won’t inhibit you from qualifying for medical cannabis, you’ll still need to consider it when it comes time to choosing a strain and the dosage you’re going to take.

Taking a look at the positives of medical cannabis for hypertension headaches:

Clinical research shows medical cannabis lowers blood pressure effectively. Medical marijuana has a couple of main anti-inflammatory components: CBD, which is non-psychoactive, and THC, which is psychoactive.

marijuana and blood pressure

Your body’s endocannabinoid system has neurotransmitters that contain biochemicals involved in controlling immune and emotional functions — which are directly related to hypertension. Medical marijuana cannabinoids mimic the endocannabinoids in your body and help lower inflammation and stress, which often lead to high blood pressure.

The endocannabinoid system in the body has naturally occurring chemicals that mimic the cannabinoids you find in marijuana. This system plays an integral role in regulating different physiological functions in your body, such as cardiovascular function.

Growing research indicates anandamide — a naturally occurring replica of THC — relaxes your blood vessels and allows your blood to flow better, helping lower your blood pressure.

Particularly, a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism concludes endocannabinoids subdue cardiac contractility in patients with hypertension, and when you target the endocannabinoid system, it provides a unique therapeutic strategy in hypertension treatment.

What Side Effects and Symptoms of Hypertension Headaches Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Hypertension headaches can bring on a whole range of unwanted side effects that cannabis and hypertension headaches treatment can relieve, such as:

As you read earlier, avoiding stress is vital, since stress can lead to hypertension. Marijuana and hypertension headaches therapy helps reduce stress and anxiety while inducing relaxation. When you give your brain and body a break from stress, it helps lower your blood pressure, allowing your heart to heal itself. It may even enhance your quality of life and your physical health.

The “relaxation” medical marijuana induces isn’t just in your head. Science proves cannabinoids can relax blood vessels, allowing your blood to flow more freely and reduce muscle tension. And the physical relaxation caused by medical weed leads to lower blood pressure.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Treating Hypertension Headache Symptoms and Their Side Effects

Since THC relaxes your body’s blood vessels, improving your blood flow and lowering your blood pressure, it makes sense to find strains high in THC to help overcome high blood pressure.

indica hybrids

Indica-dominant hybrids like Early Queen and White Haze are the best-known hypertension strains, but they can be hard to find at some dispensaries.

Therefore, below are the next best popular strains to aid with hypertension and the headaches associated with it.

  • Mango Kush (hybrid)
  • Purple Kush (Indica)
  • Blue Dream (hybrid)
  • Pennywise (Indica)
  • Northern Lights (Indica)
  • Sour Diesel (Sativa)
  • Jillybean (hybrid)
  • Harlequin (Sativa)

Best Methods of Marijuana to Use to Treat the Side Effects and Symptoms of Hypertension Headaches

In a study of people with frequent migraines, participants used various types of medical cannabis to alleviate their headaches. They found it stopped their pain in its tracks.

Study participants who smoked or inhaled medical marijuana for headaches reported they could control the dosage of the drug more easily and with fewer negative side effects. They said edible products didn’t work as well for their pain as inhaled methods.

While the study focused on migraine sufferers, it’s safe to assume it could be just as effective with hypertension headaches.

Find Hypertension Headache Relief with Medical Marijuana

If you’re looking to begin your marijuana for hypertension headaches therapy, your first step is to search for a medical marijuana dispensary or locate a doctor to get your recommendation letter. Once you have your recommendation, you can begin shopping around for the perfect strains to help ease your hypertension headaches.


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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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