Headaches are pretty common among all people. However, having migraine headaches is one of a person's worst experiences. The throbbing pain in the head, combined with nausea and vomiting, can destroy your day and make you unproductive. A migraine headache can last from 4 to 72 hours and occurs several times a month. If left untreated, it can make your life a living hell.
In a report published in The Journal of Headache and Pain, chronic pain was recorded as the most common reason for cannabis use. Most of the headache patients treated with cannabis were positive for migraine. Is cannabis effective for migraine pain, and what strain is the best to use?
What is a Migraine Headache?
A migraine is a severe and painful headache accompanied by a pulsating sensation. Migraine symptoms include throbbing pain, pulsating sensation, blind spots, nausea, vomiting, tingling in the arms and legs, and increased sensitivity to sound and light.
In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 37 million people who suffer from migraine headaches. That is a whopping 13% of the entire adult population in the country. The headache can last up to 72 hours and affects more women than men.
The experience differs from one person to another. Some mild experience symptoms, while others experience myriads of symptoms. Unfortunately, migraine sufferers may experience symptoms for 15 days per month. If you suffer from migraines, you can identify the particular cause. The most common triggers are:
- Allergies or allergic reactions
- Loud noises or bright lights
- Work-related stress, mental tension, or physical stress
- Irregular sleep, jet lag, or tiredness
- Skipping a meal
- Eating specific foods
Migraine medications include NSAIDs (ibuprofen or aspirin), narcotics (opioid or barbiturate), ergot alkaloids, and triptans (Imitrex and Frova). These are all conventional treatments, and taking them poses a risk of adverse side effects. Are there other alternatives?
People have been using cannabis as an alternative treatment for migraine. Although the research is inconclusive, preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence provide a glimmer of hope for migraine sufferers. For example, a study on 121 adult participants showed that cannabis positively affected 40% of migraine participants.
Should You Use Cannabis as a Migraine Treatment?
It is always wise to consult with your healthcare practitioner before choosing the cannabis migraine treatment route. Remember that cannabis has different strains. Each strain has a different cannabinoid and terpene profile. Some strains may help with migraines. Migraine headaches may respond positively to the blend of cannabinoids and terpenes. However, some strains may have adverse effects on your symptoms.
Although there is not enough scientific data to determine the best strains for migraines, there are research studies and anecdotal evidence from migraine patients that may guide us. For instance, there is a scientific report on the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol. Hence, a CBD-rich cannabis strain can be used to help treat migraines.
Best Cannabis Strains for Migraines
The ACDC weed strain is an excellent option for any migraine sufferer looking for an alternative solution to treating migraines. ACDC is a Sativa-dominant strain with a high CBD and low THC content. It has a THC/CBD ratio of 1:20. That means that the strain can have as high as 20% CBD and only 1% THC.
ACDC is a popular option because it may help reduce inflammation, thus reducing the chances of developing migraine symptoms. In addition, its CBD content, coupled with a bit of THC, may help fight anxiety and depression by influencing the activity of serotonin receptors in the brain.
Aside from being rich in CBD, the strain has a pleasantly sweet and earthy aroma, which provides a calming and joyful feeling. Remember that terpenes also play a part in enhancing the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids. Keeping the mental state positive in treating migraine headaches and severe pain is crucial. Fortunately, the cannabinoid and terpene blend in this strain can positively impact your migraine.
If you are not looking to get high while treating migraines, then ACDC should be the best strain to give you migraine relief. Although it contains THC, it is not enough to deliver a powerful psychoactive effect.
The remedy is an Indica strain that may prove a powerful remedy for your migraine headaches. Like ACDC, it has a high CBD content and a negligible amount of THC. The CBD content can go as high as 15%. This amount of CBD may help soothe migraine symptoms and relax your whole body.
It may not be easy to find this strain in a medical marijuana dispensary, but if you do, you can rely on its high CBD content to combat migraine symptoms. If you feel like the headaches will start soon, you may want to consume this strain before the headaches worsen. Remember, prevention is better than cure.
Harlequin is a Sativa-dominant (75%) hybrid with a CBD to THC ratio of 5:2. It may contain 8-16% CBD and 4-7% THC. This good ratio of CBD and THC allows you to experience a relaxing high with clearheadedness and alertness without getting unproductive. You may consume this strain for relief if you have high pain levels due to migraines. The THC content will give you just enough high to deal with the pain but not high enough to become unfit for daily activities. The CBD content is also relaxing but not sedating.
If you are looking for a solution to ease migraine pain without getting too high or too relaxed, Harlequin is the best choice. However, it is crucial to consume the strain before the migraine gets too painful to manage. If you have a full-blown migraine experience, you may want to consider the more potent strains below.
OG Kush is one of the many marijuana strains common in marijuana dispensaries. It is a hybrid cannabis strain that may have up to 20% THC content. The powerful THC levels on this strain can help your mind get off the migraine pain. Because of its potent sedative effects, it can help combat migraine symptoms and give you comfort.
OG Kush has a high THC content and a very low CBD content. How then is it effective in treating symptoms? The answer may lie in its myrcene content. This peppery terpene may affect inflammation and pain. It also enhances the psychoactive effects of THC. The synergy of THC and myrcene is a powerful combination that may help provide immediate relief for migraines.
The Purple Kush is a pure Indica strain developed by crossbreeding the Purple Afghani Cross and the Hindu Kush. It may contain as much as 17-22% THC and a negligible amount of CBD. The strain is known for its numbing sensation that can induce restful sleep.
Although the Purple Kush does not have a high CBD content, its Indica genetics provides it with a relaxing and sedating effect that can help you go into sleep mode faster. For many migraine sufferers, the pain and the symptoms are so bad that the only way to get some needed rest from the pain is to sleep.
The sedative effects of Purple Kush are well-known by many cannabis enthusiasts. If you suffer from a migraine attack and wish to get some needed rest, your best solution may be to consume Purple Kush and allow it to soothe the intensity of your headache. You will experience pain relief, get to sleep, and recuperate in time.
Which is the Best Strain To Use?
The five are the best recommendations for migraine relief. Which one to use depends entirely on the severity of your headache. If you feel extreme pain and need to rest, you may want to consider Purple Kush. It will help you sleep faster and allow your body to recuperate. However, if the symptoms are not as severe and you wish to remain active during the day, you may choose Harlequin.
If you aim to get high to deal with migraine pain, OG Kush is a good option. If you do not want to get high, you should consider ACDC or Remedy. The remedy is not as readily available, but it is worth a try if you can get your hands on this strain.
The Effect of Terpenes on Migraine
Terpenes give cannabis its signature flavor and aroma. However, these aromatic compounds also play a part in enhancing the beneficial effects of cannabinoids. If you are familiar with aromatherapy, some smells help reduce the sensation of pain, while others help get rid of stress. Some promising terpenes that may help with migraine include myrcene, linalool, and pinene.
These terpenes are not only for smell, but they may enhance the effects of the cannabinoids found in cannabis strains. For instance, myrcene, the spicy terpene found in OG Kush, may help relax the muscles, reduce anxiety, and alleviate pain. Linalool, another terpene with a lavender smell, may help reduce anxiety and bust head-splitting pain. Pinene, the terpene that smells like pine trees, may help reduce pain and inflammation.
Migraines are some of the most painful headaches you can ever experience. While conventional medicines help alleviate pain and inflammation, they may also induce adverse side effects. One of the alternative solutions is to consume cannabis.
Preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence show that some strains may help manage pain and symptoms caused by migraine headaches. Some of the most promising strains include ACDC, Remedy, Harlequin, OG Kush, and Purple Kush.
Remember that there is no conclusive evidence that cannabis can treat migraines effectively. Nonetheless, the beneficial effects of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in them may help manage the symptoms. Your best option is to consult your doctor and ask for advice, especially if you are taking prescription medications.
If you cannot take THC-rich strains in your locations, it is best to consider hemp. Check out our collection of hemp flowers. Hemp is beneficial for migraines because it is high in CBD. Learn more about CBD and its many applications.