Migraine headaches are very common, affecting 12% of the worldwide population. Migraine headaches usually begin in response to a specific trigger. Usually there is mild pain that gets worse to severe pain, characterized by throbbing or pulsing headache, often affecting one side of the head. Associated symptoms include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound. Migraine sufferers may feel sensory warning symptoms, called an aura, prior to onset of the headaches. Migraines appear to run in families. The mainstay of therapy is a group of drugs called “triptans” which work by blocking the release of pro inflammatory compounds in the brain. They are fairly effective for aborting or lessening severity of migraine headaches. Unfortunately, side effects can be significant and may include rebound headaches, pain or chest tightness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or warmth, redness, or tingling beneath the skin. Triptans are also costly, and many insurance providers restrict the amount of these medications that can be dispensed to patients. Another group of medicines called ergot alkaloids can also be prescribed for migraines, however are less effective than triptans.
Unfortunately, little research exists that proves the mechanism through which cannabinoids alleviate migraines, despite the overwhelming anecdotal reports from patients suffering together. Recent studies show that migraine headaches could be as a result of endocannabinoid deficiency and abnormal inflammatory response. Understand that the endocannabinoid system exists to keep up cellular homeostasis. Often migraine sufferers are convinced that headaches begin in reaction to a trigger, such as bright light, hunger, hormones, or certain smells or foods. The trigger event causes an imbalance inside the brain, which should then trigger the creation of endocannabinoids to maintain homeostasis. If one is deficient in endocannabinoids, the imbalance continues, ultimately causing growth and development of the migraine headache. The trigger could also cause inflammation, which can become unmanageable and play a role in the resulting pain.
The few studies that have looked at the link between migraines and the ECS are summarized here:
Endocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids inhibited receptors that control vomiting and pain, trying to block these symptoms. THC reduces serotonin release (which blocks vomiting and pain) through the platelets of human migraine sufferers.
Cannabinoids were found to bind to regions of the periaqueductal gray matter (an area of the brain that modulates pain transmission) which were implicated in migraine generation.Three cases were reported of chronic heavy users of cannabis developing severe migraine attacks after abrupt cessation of use; authors suggested these rebound attacks are exactly like similar rebound headaches gone through by migraine patients when they abruptly stop other migraine treatment. Genes that permit for increased inflammation were seen in migraine patients and never present in control subjects.
Endocannabinoid levels were decreased in patients with chronic migraine and medication-over-use headaches suggesting that endocannabinoid dysfunction is associated with those two chronic conditions
Cannabis has been used for hundreds of years to deal with headaches. Medical cannabis patients are finding relief of pain, less nausea, and better sleep. Patients also report less frequency and much less harshness of their migraine headaches with medical cannabis use. Numerous popular trigger factors for migraine headaches, specifically sleep deprivation and anxiety or stress, are alleviated with cannabis, thereby reducing the amount of migraine attacks. Patients also report that they lower your expenses healthcare dollars on expensive migraine medications, have less missed days in school or at the office, and also have overall improved standard of living.
There is not any question that THC-rich cannabis will help abort or lessen the degree of a migraine, particularly when taken at the onset of the pain sensation. Some patients report that low-dose, regular use of THC-rich medicine significantly reduces frequency and seriousness of the headaches. Other patients report that daily CBD-rich cannabis prevents migraine from occurring. When the headache begins, a rapid delivery method such as inhalation or sublingual tincture is desirable to most. Specific strain choice is a result of experimentation for many patients.
Most cannabinoids are classified under schedule 1 in the Federal Controlled Substances Act 1970, in addition to heroin and ecstacy. So they can not be prescribed by physicians, and by implication, have no accepted medical use with a high abuse potential. Despite their legal status, hallucinogens and cannabinoids are employed by patients for relief of headache, helped through the growing variety of American states that have legalized medical marijuana. Cannabinoids in particular have a long history of utilization in the abortive cuudpe and prophylactic management of migraine before prohibition and are still employed by patients as being a migraine abortive specifically. Most practitioners are unaware of the prominence cannabis or “marijuana” once held in medical practice. Hallucinogens are now being increasingly utilized by cluster headache patients outside physician recommendation mainly to abort a cluster period and sustain quiescence in which there is considerable anecdotal success. The legal status of cannabinoids and hallucinogens has for a long period severely inhibited scientific research, and there are still no blinded studies on headache subjects, from which we might assess true efficacy.