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Some cannabis strains may be better suited for easing these awful headaches than others.
This breakdown explains how cannabis may work to alleviate migraine pain and explores which options may be best suited to provide relief. Whether you've thought about exploring the medical benefits of cannabis but just haven't taken that first step, or you're actively seeking information, you've come to the right place.
- Migraines are severe, acute headaches that can last for hours, occurring occasionally and chronically.
- Some research indicates that cannabis provides effective relief in migraine prevention, frequency, and severity, though the exact mechanisms are unknown.
- ACDC, Bubba Kush, and Hawaiian Haze are some of our recommended strains for soothing migraines.
What are Migraines?
Migraine headaches produce severe, acute head pain that can last for hours or even days. Most people who endure migraines experience a handful of attacks per month. Others live with chronic migraines with more than 15 headaches in the same period, severely impacting daily life and well-being.
Common symptoms of migraines include throbbing or pulsating pain, usually on one side of the head, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. Some people may also experience visual disturbances, such as seeing flashing lights or blind spots.
The pain of migraines can last from four to 72 hours, depending on several conditions. Medical professionals have found no definite causes or universal symptoms for migraines, as they vary from one person to another. Some people can predict when they are about to have a migraine, while others remain unaware until the pain suddenly strikes.
Migraines are the third most common neurological condition, impacting nearly 1 billion people worldwide. Around 90% of individuals who experience migraines have a family history of it, and while most experience migraines one or two times a month, approximately 4 million people have reported acute migraines daily. They usually occur more commonly in women.
How Cannabis Affects Migraines
While the research has yet to uncover either the mechanism behind migraines or how cannabis interacts with these processes, some studies and anecdotal reports of cannabis use suggest it helps soothe migraines in different ways.
Cannabis, namely its active compound THC, has been shown to decrease the sensory experience of pain in other conditions by slowing down the movement of pain-related neurochemicals along specific pathways. By delaying this relay, we perceive less pain. CBD also has potent anti-inflammatory properties and could potentially soothe the parts of inflammation-related migraines.
Diving into the current literature, one study published in 2016 found that medical cannabis reduced the frequency of migraines by 50% in participants. These results indicated the potential efficacy of cannabis in managing migraine pain by preventing the attacks in the first place. This was supported by a second study that found that cannabis use was an effective preventative for migraines and offered acute pain treatment during occurrences.
A recent review analyzed the existing scientific literature on the use of cannabis for migraines. The review concluded that cannabis may be a promising treatment option for migraines, particularly for those who have not responded well to other treatments. It highlighted the need for further research to determine optimal dosages, delivery methods, and long-term effects of cannabis for migraine management.
In addition to these studies, several anecdotal reports and surveys indicate the potential benefits of cannabis for migraines. Many individuals with migraines have reported experiencing relief from symptoms such as pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound after using cannabis.
While anecdotal evidence is not as scientifically rigorous as controlled studies, it provides valuable insights into the potential benefits of cannabis for migraines and warrants further investigation.
How to Use Cannabis for Migraines
Migraines usually take a while to develop into full intensity, so the faster you address it, the more effective your response will be. Smoking or vaping cannabis are among the fastest-acting consumption methods, quickly delivering the pain-relieving THC and other cannabinoids to the bloodstream through the lungs.
Once you’ve inhaled, effects kick in within a few minutes and stick around 2-3 hours, depending on the amount consumed. If used in time, inhaled cannabis can helpfully head off a migraine before it gets too intense and mitigate the pain mid-attack.
Edibles are better suited as a preventative if you notice early symptoms of an impending migraine or know you’ll be in an environment with triggers. They take up to 90 minutes to kick in, but edibles linger in your system for several hours and can effectively prevent a migraine from occurring. Tinctures, such as our collection of CBD oils, work somewhat faster than edibles, with an onset time of around 15-30 minutes.
As many who’ve experienced migraines know, sleep is an excellent cure. High-potency THC strains can help individuals fall asleep fast and allow sleep to soothe the migraine before it gets too intense.
Best Strains for Migraines
ACDC contains higher levels of CBD that provide noticeable pain relief without the more intoxicating components of delta-9 THC. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties help soothe the physiological aspect of migraine symptoms, while terpenes like beta-caryophyllene and myrcene are relaxing and soothing.
Bubba Kush is an indica cannabis strain that’s especially useful for achieving sleep during a migraine attack. The cultivar leaves users happy and sleepy while reportedly soothing the pain experience. Bubba Kush is present in our Indica gummies.
Another high-CBD option available for addressing migraines is Canna-Tsu. The strain reportedly offers effective pain relief and calm without the more euphoric highs of other options on this list. Canna-Tsu’s mental clarity and high CBD levels work to alleviate the spasming pain and inflammation of migraines, while high levels of myrcene and beta-caryophyllene are similarly soothing.
Infused in our Sativa Gummies, Hawaiian Haze makes for a handy migraine relief tool best suited for daytime use. The strain reportedly offers pain relief while infusing consumers with gentle energy; using Hawaiian Haze is an effective remedy that won’t knock you out the rest of the day.
A well-known cannabis strain, Northern Lights is touted and beloved for its pain-relieving abilities. The cultivar features higher levels of THC and a bouquet of terpenes capable of addressing migraine symptoms before they become too intense.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is indica or sativa better for migraines?
There’s no universal rule determining whether indicas or sativas are better suited for migraines, as every consumer responds to strains differently. However, indica strains are commonly known for their relaxing and sedating effects, making them potentially beneficial for migraine sufferers who experience tension and stress-related headaches.
The calming properties of indica strains may help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, a helpful tool during a migraine attack. However, it's important to note that indica strains may also induce drowsiness, so it’s advisable to use them when you can rest and relax.
What is the best strain for migraine headaches?
The above list suggests several options for cannabis-based migraine relief. However, as everyone is different - it’s best to discuss with your doctor or a cannabis professional to explore what strain might be best for your needs.
- Allais, G., Chiarle, G., Sinigaglia, S., Airola, G., Schiapparelli, P., & Benedetto, C. (2020). Gender-related differences in migraine. Neurological Sciences, 41(S2), 429–436. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-020-04643-8
- Rhyne, D. N., Anderson, S. L., Gedde, M., & Borgelt, L. M. (2016). Effects of medical marijuana on migraine headache frequency in an adult population. Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy, 36(5), 505–510. https://doi.org/10.1002/phar.1673
- Lochte, B. C., Beletsky, A., Samuel, N. K., & Grant, I. (2017). The use of cannabis for headache disorders. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 2(1), 61–71. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0033
- Poudel, S., Quinonez, J., Choudhari, J., Au, Z. T., Paesani, S., Thiess, A. K., Ruxmohan, S., Hosameddin, M., Ferrer, G. F., & Michel, J. (2021). Medical Cannabis, Headaches, and Migraines: A Review of the Current literature. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.17407
- Kaul, M., Zee, P. C., & Sahni, A. (2021). Effects of Cannabinoids on Sleep and their Therapeutic Potential for Sleep Disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 18(1), 217–227. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-021-01013-w