Migraine Symptoms and Cannabis

medical cannabis and migraines

For years, those who suffered frequent migraine headaches had very few medications to choose from. Those that were available caused some nasty side-effects that limited how often people with migraines could take these medications.

Twenty years ago triptans became available for widespread use. This new class of drugs was deemed safe and effective – especially if taken at the very onset of migraine symptoms. Side effects often include feeling slightly off-kilter, overall weakness and extreme bodily temperature fluctuations.

“Serotonin syndrome” is the name given to those feelings of being slightly off-kilter or strange. These strange feelings may also involve a change in mental conditions. Those with a genetic history of schizophrenia or bipolar may have a higher risk of mental changes when taking triptans.

​It is widely assumed that triptans work on serotonin receptors, which triggers the constriction of cerebral blood vessels. This might not always be the whole truth. There may be something else at work.

A study published in 1987 found that some long time cannabis smokers actually develop migraine headaches when they quit smoking. One finding was that cannabis prevented migraines in people most apt to get them. Cannabis also contains some analgesics, which researchers think may be blocking migraine pain.

The Journal of Neuroscience, out of the University of California, San Francisco, recently published an article about the role of triptans and cannabis use; they offer logical reasons why these two drugs work well together to prevent migraine headaches.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and nervous systems of all mammals. This neurotransmitter system produces analgesia that controls the pain signals leading into the brain and spinal cord. One great thing about targeting the endogenous cannabis system is only pain signals are blocked; the sensation of touch is completely normal.

This study confirmed that the endogenous cannabis neurotransmitter system is the perfect place to target migraine treatment; and, it also highly suggests that triptans may help migraine headaches by actually activating the cannabinoids found in the human brain.

Hopefully this study leads to better migraine prevention, and treatment of migraines once they occur. Currently, the biggest obstacle is figuring out what dosage of cannabis to use to control the pain without making patients feel the natural ‘high’ found in cannabis.​

Additional Resources

  • ​https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/new-study-confirms-that-cannabis-can-help-migraine-sufferers
  • https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/natural-remedies/marijuana/
  • http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php

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