Migraine pain management is one of the most challenging aspects of the condition. Migraine attacks induce severe, throbbing pain in the head or behind the eyes. Symptoms are typically so debilitating that people with migraine cannot complete daily tasks or participate in regular activities during an attack.
People with migraine may try a wide range of pain-relieving treatments to alleviate symptoms during attacks. Some use medical marijuana to relieve discomfort, nausea and pain during a migraine. While marijuana for migraine treatment has displayed hopeful results, more studies are necessary to understand its comprehensive effects.
Why is marijuana used for pain relief?
Marijuana has long been used for medicinal purposes. Usage was reported as far back as 2800 BC, when a Chinese emperor listed the plant as a component in his pharmaceutical solutions. Patients use medical cannabis to alleviate pain, decrease nausea and lower feelings of anxiety.
Cannabis contains cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These compounds stimulate cannabinoid chemicals in the body, which are responsible for mood regulation, appetite, pain and various other functions. When you consume medical marijuana, it activates your brain’s reward system and lowers pain. THC causes euphoric feelings, known as a high, while CBD relaxes the nervous system and reduces pain.
Health professionals prescribe medical marijuana for a range of conditions, including chronic pain. They may suggest medical marijuana after other treatments or medications do not work.
What do studies say about marijuana migraine treatment?
Scientists and health professionals continue to study marijuana’s potential as a migraine treatment. During a migraine attack, overexcited nerve cells trigger chemicals in your brain. These chemicals narrow blood vessels and cause intense feelings of pain. Because marijuana has pain-relieving properties, many health professionals have studied its effects during migraine attacks.
Many studies have researched marijuana’s effectiveness on migraine, but overall results remain inconclusive. Some tests show promising results, such as one from 2022. That study showed that cannabis consumption significantly reduced nausea and vomiting during migraine attacks. It also reduced migraine frequency. In addition, a 2019 study found that more than 88% of patients experienced a reduction in pain severity after using marijuana for over a year.
Other studies have reported mixed or negative outcomes. Marijuana migraine treatment usage has a few challenges, such as:
- Unpredictable patient responses: Cannabis can affect people differently. For instance, it relaxes some patients while making others paranoid or anxious. Similarly, it can have pain-relieving effects for some while having little impact on others.
- Difficulties with access: Researchers often face challenges when accessing marijuana for their studies due to restrictive laws in the United States.
Overall, cannabis for migraine shows promise as a treatment. More research will allow medical professionals to reach a more conclusive answer.
What are the risks and side effects of marijuana use?
Marijuana’s effectiveness can vary by person. While it brings benefits for some, it can negatively impact others. Users also have to be careful of developing a dependence on the drug or overusing it.
Depending on how it affects you personally, cannabis can have negative side effects like:
- Dizziness and nausea: Many users consume cannabis to alleviate nausea during a migraine, but it can have the opposite effect for some people. Marijuana can cause you to feel disoriented, bringing on intense feelings of dizziness. The room might appear to spin or go out of focus.
- Paranoia: Another common side effect of cannabis is paranoia. Certain dosages might make you feel hypervigilant or as though people or objects are threatening. It can heighten fearful feelings and make your environment seem scarier than it actually is.
- Mood changes: After extended marijuana use, you might experience mood changes. For instance, it can slow your reaction times and make you feel completely relaxed. Or you might feel irritable or angry after not using it for an extended period.
- Negative impacts on lungs: You can ingest medical marijuana in various forms, including edibles and smoking. If you smoke, it can have the same harmful effects on your lungs as smoking tobacco. It could harm lung tissue or damage blood vessels.
- Addictive qualities: While many argue you cannot become addicted to marijuana, many people become dependent on the drug and show withdrawal symptoms when they do not consume it. For example, you might feel depressed, restless or angry. You might also display physical symptoms like excessive sweating or shaking.
- Impacts on brain development: Studies have shown that marijuana can negatively impact brain development. The drug affects brain processes for memory and maintaining attention. However, long-term effects depend on your average use levels, the amount you use and other genetic and environmental factors.
In addition, certain preexisting symptoms or conditions make it unsafe to use medical marijuana, including:
- Lung conditions or irritation
- Heart disease
Federal and state laws limit medical marijuana usage. These laws restrict some patients with migraine from using the drug for relief. A total of 37 states, three territories and the District of Columbia allow medicinal cannabis use. However, your healthcare provider must draft a written statement explaining your condition and symptoms to obtain medical marijuana.
Additionally, many states require you to have a certain condition before you can get approved. These conditions often vary by state. For instance, accepted conditions include:
- Severe chronic pain
- Severe nausea
Looking to the future
While medical weed has shown promising results for migraine management, medical professionals need to conduct more studies to completely understand its effects. Marijuana legalization laws restrict researchers from overseeing thorough tests, such as trying different dosages or studying side effects. However, marijuana laws continue to change as voters and government officials reconsider its impacts. As legislation adjusts, scientists will likely complete more thorough research on migraine marijuana treatments.
In the meantime, those with migraine can find relief in alternative treatments, such as the CEFALY Connected device for migraine relief. This clinically proven migraine treatment can lower migraine attack frequency and reduce pain during an attack.
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