Migraine Headaches: Using Cannabis Strains and Edibles for Treatment

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Among the biggest problems migraine sufferers face is that no one understands what they are going through. If you’ve never had one, you just don’t know.

That lack of understanding leads to emotional pain that comes from the isolation from friends, family, and co-workers. No one appreciates the suffering, and most patients just give up trying to explain.

Afflicted people repeatedly try many treatments and medications, but some are now saying cannabis is the most effective treatment of migraine headaches they have ever tried.

What’s the problem?

Dr. Helen Webberly describes migraine headaches for Medical News Today, “A migraine is a severe, painful headache that can be preceded or accompanied by sensory warning signs such as flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the arms and legs, nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound.” But, most sufferers would say this is an understatement.

The NIH MedicinePlus confirms Dr. Webberly’s definition clarifying that such headaches are vascular and more common in women than men. Unlike tension headaches that come up from the neck and cluster headaches that are felt in the forehead and sinuses, migraines feel like a constant pressure pushing backwards on both sides of the head.

Pharmaceutical Pain Relief: The Mayo Clinic recommends over-the-counter aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, but it warns that long-term risks ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Prescription treatments include indomethacin suppositories for pain and nausea. Many patients rely on triptans like Imitrex, Avert, and Maxalt among others. But, they are not recommended for those at risk of heart problems.

Ergots combine ergotamine and caffeine (Migergot or Cafergot) to help pain lasting more than 48 hours but may aggravate nausea and vomiting. And, dihydroergotamine is a derivative that is more effective and has fewer side effects, and it comes as a nasal spray or injectable.

Holistic Pain Relief:Prevention Magazine recommends alternative therapies. Ice packs provide an anti-inflammatory treatment.

They note that 400 mg of riboflavin (B2) has proven effective and has CoQ10 supplements. They quote recommendations from the American Academy of Neurology for the butterbur herb or dry leaf feverfew.

Massage treatment on neck and shoulders can reduce spasms, and yoga and tai chi have improved relaxation and reduced stress. And, still other patients report relief from acupuncture.

What’s the cause?

Migraines have no clear cause. There may be an inherited predisposition to the migraine headaches. That may or may not show as a central nervous system problem or an irregularity in the vascular system.

The migraines can be triggered by physical or emotional stress, hormone changes, alcohol, smoking, or other medications. Some say triggers might include certain foods and/or sweeteners.

Migraine.com focuses on neurotransmitters: “When neurotransmitters (key) fit into a receptor (lock), they profoundly affect metabolism and mood and how the brain and the person is able to function.” An imbalance in that neurotransmitter-receptor link will trigger migraines.

Psychology Today reports studies at the University of California, San Francisco that indicate, “Our brain’s own endogenous marijuana-like chemicals produce analgesia by modulating the entry of pain signals into the brain at the level of our spinal cord.  Future generations of pain relievers will likely be developed based upon the action of marijuana in the body.”

What cannabis strains serve well?

The brain’s natural cannabinoid receptors seem to respond more fully to strains with high THC content. At the same time, there is a need for more extensive research of strains and their treatment for migraines.

Absent thorough research, you are left with anecdotal input. So, while user reviews compliment these strains, these are not recommended with medical authority.

Sativas:

  • Sour Diesel is a heavy favorite among medical patients because of its simultaneously energizing and analgesic effect. With 19-25% THC, Sour Diesel relieves depression, stress, and pain with few downsides except its strong diesel aroma.
  • Candyland can be rough on first time smokers, but it starts with earthy, sweet, and spicy taste and aroma. For frequent smokers, it is good for social environments. With a 19% THC content, the effects are uplifting and happy with some risk of paranoia is overused. It relieves depression, stress, and pain at the risk of dry mouth and eyes.

Indicas:

  • Bubba Kush is hugely popular for its sweet hashish taste, pine and lemony with hints of chocolate and coffee in the smoke. Bubba Kush sedates mind and body with a euphoric heavy comfort. The up to 22% THC makes it good for insomnia and leaves users relaxed, happy, and sleepy. Recommended for stress and pain, it also affects depression.
  • Mr. Nice crosses two Indicas and Hash with a deep rich earthy smell and taste of fruit and spice. Despite its hefty 18.4% THC, the effect is calming and relaxing, a remedy for stress and pain. Still, it leaves you fully functional.

Hybrids:

  • Blue Dream leads sativa-dominant hybrids with its cross of sativa Haze and Blueberry Indica. The solid 18-24% THC leaves users happy, relaxed, and uplifted, relieved of stress, depression, pain, and headaches. Smokers feel immediate relief without heavy sedation, a full-body relaxation with a lasting cerebral clarity.
  • Girl Scout Cookies blends OG Kush and Durban Poison. A frequent award winner, it is known to relieve severe pain and nausea. The 17-28% THC produces a wapping high that relaxes body and toys with the psyche. Sweet, earthy, and pungent on the nose, it is euphoric, happy, and uplifting. Intake takes users away from stress, pain, and depression and helps with insomnia and appetite.

Edibles:

There are many edibles and edible recipes, but you may want to favor those that promise a high THC and/or long effect.

  • Edipure Sweet ‘n Sours (100mg) are THC high as is the brand’s Peach Banana Rings (100mg).
  • Kind Bake Strawberry Lozenges leave an Indica-like heaviness and distraction from pain.
  • Iris Gummies are popularly used for daytime medication of chronic pain, nausea, depression, and pain.

What can you do for your migraines?

USAToday Health reports on Ethan Russo of the Montana Neurobehavioral Specialists (Missoula, MO) who says, “Some people say it makes the pain go completely away or can prevent migraines from coming on. Others say it lessens the pain and allows them to focus on other things to get their work done."

Russo also takes the position: “Unlike most headache medications, cannabis is unique in that it works as both a preventive agent and an analgesic. ‘At any point in the migraine, they could use cannabis by smoking, vaporizer, etc., and about 80% of these people get significant or total relief,’ he says. ‘And, if someone has a chronic migraine, daily use in whatever form will often lead to a complete remission."

So, without working pharmaceutical options, migraine sufferers will always try something that seems to work. With enough credible research and authorization to purchase medical marijuana, they may have found a legitimate treatment.