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Migraines are a type of excruciatingly painful headache that can cause intense throbbing and pulsing in the head, and is usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe sensitivity to light, loud sounds, and or smells. Migraines are also oftentimes classified as a chronic neurological disorder if the headaches persist (which they do in tens of millions of people throughout the world). Sufferers of Migraine disorders may experience migraines several times a month, and at the worst, even on a daily basis.

The exact cause of migraine disorders vary from individual to individual, although it is hypothesized that they are related to chemical changes in the brain as well as genetics. Various ailments including Asthma, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Epilepsy, Hypertension, Stroke, Sleep Disorders, and more can also cause migraines in the sufferer. Some individuals (those with a migraine disorder or ailment that may cause migraines) are more predisposed to undergoing a migraine attack than others, but normal healthy individuals may experience a migraine from time to time depending on specific triggers. Known triggers of a migraine include: emotional stress; sensitivity to chemicals or preservatives in foods; excessive caffeine consumption; caffeine withdrawal; menstrual periods; side effects of medications; excessive fatigue; skipping meals; and changes in sleep patterns.

Thankfully, there are various medications and therapies that help manage a Migraine.

Using Cannabis to Treat Migraine

Cannabis is a complex medicinal plant that may actually be used to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by a surprisingly large number of ailments. Its usefulness as a non-lethal medicine (you cannot die from an overdose of cannabis) cannot be overstated and its versatility in terms of how it can be consumed and as to how it can be useful for so many illnesses is something to be excited about. However, it is important to remember that consulting with your primary care physician should be your first priority when considering incorporating cannabis into one’s medical regiment and that cannabis is to be used as an adjunct therapy and not a replacement. It is also your responsibility to communicate with your doctor as to how your use of cannabis has affected your health and of your progress with utilizing medical cannabis.

Those suffering from Migraines will be pleased to hear that one study in 2008 by Russo et al published in Neuroendocrinology Letters concludes, “Migraine, fibromyalgia, IBS and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicines.”

With that said, studies have shown that cannabis may be quite useful for treating individuals suffering from migraine for the following reasons: relieving pain caused by the migraine; helping to manage anxiety and or depression associated with the various stages of a migraine; relieving nausea and possible vomiting; helping to regulate blood flow and relieve possible hypertension or high blood pressure; helping to restore appetite during a prolonged migraine attack; and with protecting the brain from damage and degeneration.

Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids Useful for Treating Migraine

The cannabis plant offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits and contains cannabinoids and terpenoid compounds that are useful for managing a migraine. Although much of the scientific research surrounding cannabis has been focused on both Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) for their ability to be potent Analgesics and Anti-Nausea (Anti-Emetic) medicines, the following list denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids also work synergistically with each other for possible therapeutic benefit:


Understanding medical cannabis. Elemental Wellness Center, 2014 Jul.

Effects of anandamide in migraine: data from an animal model. Greco, Rosaria, et al.
The Journal of Headache and Pain, 2011 April, 12(2): 177-183.

The use of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids for the treatment of headache. Napchan, Uri, et al.
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2011 Mar, 51(3): 502-505.

The endocannabinoid system and migraine. Greco, Rosaria, et al
Experimental Neurology, 2010 July, 224(1): 85-91.

Cluster attacks responsive to recreational cannabis and Dronabinol. Robbins, Matthew S, et al.
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2009 Jun, 49(6): 914-916.

Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD): can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other treatment-resistant conditions? Russo, Ethan B.
Neuroendocrinology Letters, 2008, 29(2): 192-200.

pharmacodynamic overview. McCarberg, Bill H, et al.
American Journal of Therapeutics, 2007 Sep, 14(5): 475-483.

Endocannabinoids in chronic migraine: CSF findings suggest a system failure. Sarchielli, Paola, et al.
Neuropsychopharmacology, 2006 Nov 22, 32: 1384-1390.

Cannabinoid (CB1) receptor activation inhibits trigeminovascular neurons. Akerman, Simon, et al.
The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 2006 Oct 3, 320(1): 64-71.

The future of cannabinoids as analgesic agents: a pharmacologic, pharmacokinetic, and Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD): can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions? Russo, E.B.
Neuro Endocrinology Letters, 2004, 25(1-2): 31-39.

Cannabis use for chronic non-cancer pain: results of a prospective survey. Ware, Mark A, et al.
Pain, 2003 Mar, 102(1-2): 211-216.

Hemp for headache: an in-depth historical and scientific review of cannabis in migraine treatment. Russo, Ethan.
Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, 2001, 1(2): 21-92.

Cannabis: time for scientific evaluation of this ancient remedy? Sharpe, Paul MB, et al.
Anesthesia & Analgesia, 2000 Feb, 90(2): 237.

Cannabis for migraine treatment: the once and future prescription? an historical and scientific review. Russo, Ethan
Pain, 1998 May, 76(1-2): 3-8.

Marijuana and migraine. El-Mallakh, Rif S.
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 1987 Sep, 27(8): 442-443.

Cannabinoids block release of serotonin from platelets induced by plasma from migraine patients. Dvilanksy, Volfe Z, et al.
International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research, 1985, 5(4): 243-246.

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