How Does Medical Marijuana Help With and Treat Headaches?

Home » How Does Medical Marijuana Help With and Treat Headaches?


Headaches are one of the most common medical conditions people complain about. It is quite normal for almost everyone to experience a headache at a certain point in life. The truth is that a headache can affect everyone irrespective of factors such as age, gender or race. According to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), almost half of all adults the world over experience a headache on a yearly basis.

A headache could be a sign of stress or emotional disorder and could result in conditions such as high blood pressure, migraine, anxiety as well as depression. Some of the common causes of headaches include alcohol induced hangover, concussion, dehydration, brain tumor, brain freeze, blood cloth as well as problems in those structures of the head that are sensitive to pain.

Many preclinical literatures have explored the role of medical marijuana in the treatment of headaches. However, even though clinical trials of medical cannabis for the treatment of neuropathy pain have yielded promising results, there has been limited research on its use in the treatment of headache disorders.

According to a 2017 study that was published through PMB, medical marijuana may emerge as a potential treatment for some headache sufferers. The authors of this study recommended more future studies in this light. They equally suggested that potential novel treatments should be considered.

It should be noted that there are different types of headache disorders and the extent to which medical marijuana can be used in treating headaches depends on the type and severity.

Caffeine Headaches

Caffeine headaches result from a caffeine related cause. Most people with caffeine headaches start feeling the pain behind their eyes before it spreads to the front of the forehead. The pain associated with caffeine headache can range from slightly painful pressure to a full blown migraine. Some of the most common symptoms of caffeine headache include pain and pressure in the head, fatigue, sleeping problems, sensitivity to light, focus issues, memory problems, nausea and vomiting. Typically, caffeine headaches can be addressed with painkillers, triptans as well as changes in lifestyle.

There are indications that medical marijuana works just as well as the standard treatments for caffeine headaches, but with milder side effects. A 2017 study revealed that according to historical records, most physicians used cannabis as a headache treatment from 1839 to 1937. Of course, modern research has also revealed that cannabis has the ability to soothe headaches. It is apparent that most patients have plenty of anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana relieves their caffeine headache. Besides, clinical trials that involved THC have also resulted in promising data.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are sudden headaches which can occur between one to eight times a day. This condition usually lasts between 15 minutes and three hours and could happen for weeks or months. It should be noted that in between the clusters, there may be no symptom of headache, with the headache-free periods lasting for months to years. The pain caused by cluster headaches is usually severe, one sided and described as sharp and burning. Even though cluster headaches are associated with genes in some people, it is sometimes caused by air travel, cigarettes, alcohol, heat, cocaine, sunlight and certain medications.

Even though there is not enough research, there are indications that medical marijuana could be used in treating cluster headaches. Findings from a study that was published by a group of researchers at the Montefiore Headache Center suggested that inhaling medical marijuana could alleviate cluster headaches. During the study, participants who inhaled medical marijuana experienced a cessation of the headache within minutes.

Exertion Headaches

Exertion headaches are often triggered by physical activities and this explains why they are also called activity-related headaches and exercise headaches. Exertion headaches usually occur during or after strenuous sustained exercises such as swimming, weight lifting, sexual activity, scuba diving, tennis, running and rowing, etc. However, other potentially contributing factors to exertion headaches include heat, caffeine, poor nutrition, coughing, low blood sugar, and alcohol consumption.

Many people have reported to have experienced a cessation of exertion headaches after a long term use of medical cannabis. An article that was published in the Journal of Neuroscience provided a good explanation as to why medical cannabis and triptans are able to prevent exertion headaches. The explanation was the fact that the brain has endogenous, cannabis-like chemicals that produce analgesia by regulating the amount of pain signals that enter the brain at the spinal cord level.

Hormone Headaches

Hormone headaches are often associated with changes in hormones. It is apparent that for both men and women, several factors including age and family history contribute to headaches. Therefore, changes in both progesterone and estrogen levels could trigger hormone headaches.

Researchers have been able to establish a link between medical marijuana and the treatment of hormone headaches. According to a 2008 study that was published in Neuroendocrinology Letters, hormone headaches are strongly linked to the endocannabinoid function. The study revealed that an endocannabinoid deficiency could cause hormone headaches. This assertion, therefore implies that medical marijuana could help reduce hormone headache by supplementing the natural of endocannabinoids in the body.

Also, it has also been proven that CBD in medical cannabis has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that have been proven to treat hormone headaches effectively.

Hypertension Headaches

Hypertension headaches occur as a result of high blood pressure. As a matter of fact, severe headaches may be a sign of dangerously high blood pressure.

Science has provided evidences that medical marijuana could be used in alleviating hypertension headaches. After all, cannabis have also been proven to be effective against high blood pressure and this implies that when the pressure reduces, the headaches caused by high blood pressure could also cease. According to a survey that was conducted between 2005 and 2012, medical cannabis could result in a decreased blood pressure as well as a cessation in symptoms associated with hypertension, headaches inclusive.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are the second most common type of secondary headache, which could have a significant impact in the life of an individual. According to WHO, a migraine headache is considered the sixth highest cause of the days lost due to disability all over the world. A migraine headache could last for a few hours to between two and three days. This sort of headache is usually accompanied by blurred vision, nausea, light-headedness, as well as sensory disturbances known as auras.

There are indications that marijuana could be one of the under the counter remedies for migraine. This assertion can be backed by the fact that marijuana has natural compounds called cannabinoids, which help in calming down pain signals.

According to a study that was carried on 121 participants in the University of Colorado, about 40 percent of the participants admitted that the number of migraine headaches they had every month cut by half after using medical cannabis on a daily.

Post-Traumatic Headaches

Post Traumatic Headache which is abbreviated as PTH occur after an injury in either the head or neck such as concussion. This explains why PTH is sometimes called post-concussion headaches. Some of the most common causes of post traumatic headaches include falls, a blow to the head, vehicle, motorcycle and bicycle accidents as well as sports injuries. Certain medications can be used to treat post traumatic headaches, but most of such medications have adverse side effects such as dry mouth, increased sweating, drowsiness, blurred vision, and restlessness.

Many people suffering from post-traumatic headaches have resulted to use medical marijuana to treat the condition. Even though there isn’t enough scientific research on the direct effect of cannabis on PTH, certain findings have indicated that cannabinoids interact with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the body. Of course, these receptors are part of your endocannabinoid system that protects against neural damage resulting from chronic and acute brain damage.

Rebound Headaches

A Rebound headache normally stems from an excessive use of medications to treat symptoms of headaches. Rebound headaches usually start early in the day and persist throughout the entire day. Even though painkillers may be used to lessen the rebound headaches, the condition often worsens when the effects of the painkillers wear out. Rebound headaches can result in restlessness, neck pain, low quality sleep and the feeling of nasal congestion.

For many centuries, people have been using cannabis to treat headaches, rebound headaches inclusive. As a matter of fact, early medical cannabis for the treatment of rebound headaches has mostly yielded positive results and even though more scientific studies needs to be done on the subject, many patients reported to have experienced reduced intensity and frequency of their headaches.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are common when you wake up in the morning and normally clears up by afternoon. Generally, sinus headaches are hard to diagnose considering that the symptoms are similar to those of migraine and tension headaches. Sinus headaches may result in a deep, throbbing and dull pain in your face and front of your head. Some of the common symptoms of sinus headaches include facial tenderness, upper tooth pain, pressure behind the eyes, fatigue, green or yellow nose discharge, runny nose or nasal congestion.

As time passes by, more and more uses of medical marijuana are being discovered. Medical marijuana has been proven to be effective in treating sinus headaches because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacteria properties.

According to findings from a 2016 study by the University of Colorado’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, both ingested and inhaled cannabis help in treating sinus headaches. An estimated 40 percent of the participants reported a positive effect on weed treatment with about 20 percent admitting that the herb prevented their headaches.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are very common and often begin slowly and gradually in the middle of the day. Tension headaches can either be chronic or episodic. Episodic attacks can last from a few hours to a few days, whereas chronic occurs for an estimated 15 or more days a month over a period of at least three months. People with tension headaches may feel as if they have a tight band around their head. They may also feel a constant dull ache on both sides, or pain spreading to or from the neck.

Historical records have it that medical marijuana has been a remedy for headaches for many centuries. There are also shreds of evidences that medical marijuana helps in alleviating the symptoms of tension headaches. Researchers have argued that people suffering from tension headache could experience a few benefits after consuming medical marijuana. Some of such benefits include a reduction of headache symptoms, calming effects, ease of muscle tension as well as pain eradication.


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Marijuana strains reported to help with Headaches:

Master Kush
Blue Dream
Pineapple Express
God’s Gift
Dream Queen
White Widow
OG Kush
Purple Kush

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