A common way to use marijuana therapeutically is to relieve migraines — and for good reason. Migraines can be utterly debilitating, as those who suffer from them are all too aware.
Chronic sufferers have it the worst since after their last migraine ended, they know there is only so much time before the next one hits.
Certain strains of medical marijuana can do a great job of relieving some or all of the pain and symptoms that come with migraines. People who suffer from tension headaches and other types of headaches will also benefit. Let’s look at some of the best cannabis strains for migraines that you can grow at home.
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What are Migraines?
Migraines are not your typical headache. They are generally recurring and will cause pain (often on just one side of your head) that throbs or pulses. Migraines are more common in women than men by three times. They are often hereditary and sometimes accompanied by an aura.
If you’re wondering why there is an entire article dedicated to migraines, you most likely have not experienced one yourself. Migraines are on a completely different level from regular headaches — even the most severe headaches have nothing on migraines. Some people have found pharmaceuticals that work to help treat the symptoms of a migraine, but lots of other people have not yet found any relief. Many people with migraines simply have to lie down and wait for the day(s) of migraine to be over.
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Migraines are not fully understood yet, and there are a variety of potential causes. Some people have food-related triggers; others get them when they are tired or stressed. Some people have muscular issues that cause their migraines, while others don’t know what could be causing them.
Migraines can be caused by:
- genetics (migraines can be hereditary)
- hormonal changes
- sleep disorders or inconsistencies
- certain types of drinks (alcoholic or caffeinated drinks)
Additional possible causes include strong smells, loud noises, or bright glare, intense exercise, changes in the weather or pressure, menstruation, and food additives.
Migraines come with myriad symptoms that regular headaches do not. These additional annoyances can include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, extreme sensitivity to light or sound, and a general inability to function in their daily life. Some are even more extreme, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, and mood disorders. You may even have migraines alongside asthma and autoimmune disease. So, the question remains: does weed help headaches? Keep reading for the answer.
Cannabis for Migraine Relief
Migraines and those horrible things that come with them are often eased by cannabis. Much of this information is still anecdotal, but there are some promising indications that cannabis has very positive effects for migraine sufferers. For example, one study conducted in 2017 looked at patients who took THC and CBD daily. They found that this alone reduced their frequency of migraines by 40%. In another study from 2016, when over a hundred migraine sufferers tried marijuana, the vast majority (85%) said they had a noticeable decrease in frequency.
Of course, serious studies can’t happen when cannabis is still an illegal drug. While more recent studies help, there’s still a lack of evidence. Meanwhile, many states recognize headaches and migraines as a justifiable reason for using marijuana (at least in states that require a prescription). That’s part of the reason why taking weed for migraines is a fairly common practice these days.
Marijuana has therapeutic properties because it impacts the endocannabnoid system. Learn about it in this article.
Part of the possible explanation for the effectiveness of cannabis in treating migraines is how it interacts with our cannabinoid receptors in the brain, thus relieving or preventing a migraine attack. There is also some thought that an endocannabinoid system deficiency could be the cause of migraines and other pains.
For many, marijuana is a convenient and practical option for migraine management. Plus, there are very few drawbacks to weed. Even if you are part of the smaller percentage of people who do not see improvement, there’s essentially no harm done. On the other hand, other options can affect internal organs, such as the stomach, liver, or kidneys.
Should You Choose Indica or Sativa for Migraines?
Indica strains generally have more moderate levels of THC and higher levels of CBD. Indica is known for calming, relaxing, and sedating properties, so people often choose this strain for muscle pain, and in the evening before bed. Cannabis sativa, on the other hand, is usually high in THC and lower in CBD. It can have a more energetic high, causing the user to feel euphoric and uplifted. Because of that, cannabis sativa is considered a “daytime strain.”
A second thing to consider is the difference between two of the main cannabinoids found in marijuana: THC and CBD. THC is the component that will make you high, while CBD does not have psychoactive effects. In other words, it does not alter a person’s mood or behavior.
Indica or Sativa for Migraines
- Cannabis, in general, may help with pain.
- Indica promotes sleep and relaxation.
- Sativa boosts mood.
- CBD reduces psychoactive effects.
It’s not always clear what works best for migraines. For now, it is best to choose a strain that addresses your main symptom. Sativas can best manage moodiness, and indicas can address trouble sleeping. One study conducted in 2018 suggested hybrid strains were the most effective overall, in particular strains with higher THC than CBD. If you’re unsure, get a hybrid and make sure it has plenty of CBD.
The Top 5 Cannabis Strains for Migraines
OG Kush is a famous strain that leans surprisingly sativa, although it’s an indica, with pretty high levels of THC as well as plenty of CBD. Many have tried this strain for migraines and speak highly of its effectiveness. Some might even say it is the best marijuana strain for migraines, but you’ll have to be the ultimate judge of that.
There is also a variety of OG Kush that comes with higher CBD levels, which could be more effective in fighting headaches for some people. It generally does not cause couchlock, but it’s best to take this in the evening because of its indica-dominant features. All in all, it is one of the best strains for headaches.
Northern Lights is another indica-dominant strain, sitting at 90% indica to 10% sativa. It comes with high THC levels — up to 18% — but does not have much CBD to speak of. Northern Lights causes people to feel dreamy and pleasantly numbed.
The most likely effects include feeling good for a while, having a snack, and then drifting off to a pleasant sleep (as opposed to the many failed attempts at sleep that those with severe migraines experience). This strain is pretty strong, so be sure to start small and work your way up.
Unlike Northern Lights and OG Kush, Harlequin is a sativa-dominant strain. That said, it is unlikely to cause paranoia, like some sativas. This effect is because of its high CBD levels and lower THC levels. That’s why Harlequin remains a popular strain for those fighting migraines while attempting to accomplish things in their daily lives.
Many choose this strain because it makes them functional even if they have a migraine. Because it has lower THC, it might not get rid of the pain altogether, but it reduces it enough to function without making you fall asleep.
Many migraine sufferers know that the only thing to do on a migraine day is to lie in bed and wait it out. This can be a frustrating, boring endeavor, mainly because they are in so much pain that they cannot fall asleep. Purple Kush can address that because it induces sleep and keeps you soundly asleep for a while.
Purple Kush will knock you out because it is a pure indica — 100%. It is also high in THC, reaching 22%, but low in CBD (0.10%). If you’re in the clutches of migraine and simply need to drift off to sleep, Purple Kush may be the way to go.
Critical Mass CBD
Critical Mass is a hybrid with somewhat dominant indica features. At 65% indica and 35% sativa, it has lower THC (6-9%) and higher CBD (6-9%). It fully relaxes the user, both mentally and physically, without inducing a couchlock feeling.
Because the amount of THC and CBD is the same, it creates a very balanced effect. It makes you feel more positive and happy and eventually leads to some sleepiness. It’s best to use this in the evening, a little while before you intend to go to bed.
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FAQs About Cannabis for Migraines
What’s the best way to consume weed for migraines?
There is no single perfect way to take marijuana that works best for everyone. Some people prefer smoking because you feel the effects sooner, while others prefer tinctures, drops, vaping, or edibles. The strains listed in this article make for some of the best edibles for migraines, but you should choose your method. This article can help.
How do you make cannabis tinctures?
Tinctures are an extract of marijuana with an alcohol-based solvent. They are easy to make at home. The process involves decarboxylating the cannabis, mixing it and the alcohol in a jar, and then letting it sit for several weeks. Finally, strain it to get the final product. Here are some reasons to love tinctures.
Does CBD oil work for migraines?
CBD oil could also work for migraines, although some users find that the presence of THC helps with migraines. It is certainly worth trying, especially if you have no other legal options in your state. Purchase CBD oil in our store.
What’s your favorite go-to strain for migraines? Tell us in the comments below!
I have suffered from hospitalizing migraines since I was in daycare before school age (30+ years now). As I’ve grown up, so too have the migraines’ potency and their frequency in my life; therefore, I have attempted every single treatment option available up until a few years ago. The last attempt was Topomax as a preventative, but that caused memory loss and I developed a stutter as I would begin to search for vocabulary words. Not a great fit for a psychotherapist; so, I’ve refused to experiment any longer with newly released pharmaceuticals.
Like Topomax, EVERYTHING had a downside; side-effects, not enough reduction in severity, nearly no reduction in frequency, and most often a tranquilizing effect still taking me out from functioning throughout my day (the antithesis of treatment).
I have personally found strains possessing THCa close to the same ratios of the CBD structures have helped the most as a preventative. While higher THC (lower THCa) strains still with decent levels of CBD help as a PRN treatment for flared-up episodes.
Thank you for the read, and keep progressing the cause to bring relief to folk like me and others suffering from other ailments.