Is Cannabis An Alternative To Opioids
CBD is several hundred times more potent than Aspirin and there is some evidence that suggests it may deliver pain relieving effects similar to some opiates. This is an interesting alternative given the US opioid crisis. Around 45 people in the US die per day from prescription opiates which are being used for various pain disorders. 60% of these deaths are from a legitimate medical prescription.
There has not been one recorded death from overdose or overuse with medical cannabis. In the Journal of American Medical Association a study showed states with medical cannabis have a 25% decrease in opioid related overdose or death compared to those states which do not have medical cannabis laws. This suggests medical cannabis may be a legitimate weapon in the war against the opioids.
Are There Syndromes Linked With Cannabis Use
Yes. There are two important syndromes linked with cannabis use that are relevant to people with migraine.;
Relationship Between Medical Cannabis And Migraines
The concept of using medical cannabis for migraines is becoming increasingly accepted, but in order to understand how cannabis treatment for migraines might be effective, we need to understand the science behind it.
According to a study published in the Journal of Pain, the use of cannabis might be beneficial since it may reduce headache and migraine pain, with cannabinoids playing a central role. Another study by Washington State University even indicated that inhaled cannabis might reduce migraine severity by up to 49%.
The Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado studied the effects of inhaled and ingested medical cannabis in migraine sufferers, and their results only supported what other studies unearthed. Out of 121 adult participants, almost 40% reported positive effects with 19.8% claiming that it helped prevent migraines. Up to 85% of the test subjects reported that medical cannabis for migraines reduced the number of attacks per month.
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Migraines And Medical Marijuana
Throughout the course of history, marijuana has offered successful treatment and relief for those suffering from migraines. Research has shown that a deficiency within the endocannabinoid system may actually be the underlying cause of migraines. Medical marijuana offers a natural treatment to relieve the pain and symptoms associated with migraines. In fact, studies have even shown that the use of medical marijuana can potentially eliminate migraines in some patients. Research and existing evidence indicates that medical marijuana is a potentially effective option for migraines.
Clinical Studies On Cannabis Use For Headache
The schedule 1 classification of marijuana in 1970 has made rigorous clinical studies on the treatment efficacy of this substance difficult. Currently, there are no placebo-controlled clinical studies examining the use of cannabis for headache; nevertheless, there have been a number of other studies published that give insight into its therapeutic efficacy ., However, care should be taken when interpreting the findings from these studies. With one exception, these studies did not include a control group, and given that the placebo effect can be altered by the context of treatment, it is reasonable to expect a significant placebo response given the pre-existing public popularity and notoriety of cannabis. Moreover, self-reports and case studies may have a bias toward immediate improvement without awareness of possible dependence, rebound, or withdrawal responses, which are important concerns in headache treatment. In fact, studies show that headache can be induced in 23.2% patients undergoing cannabis withdrawal.
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The Controversy History And Politics Of Medicinal Cannabis
The use of cannabis has evolved dramatically. In ancient times cannabis was used medically with roots in Western and Central Asia. It has been documented throughout Hindi literature, and 5,000 years ago Greek physicians used it for various aliments. In China, physicians used it for childbirth and joint pains.
Dr. William Brooke OShaughnessy introduced medicinal cannabis to the Western world in 1839. Based on his experiences in India as a professor and physician, he advocated for its use in pain relief and muscle relaxants. From around the mid 1800s to the early 1900s many prominent physicians prescribed cannabis. This included Sir William Osler, the father of modern medicine.
These physicians used medicinal cannabis in both the prevention;and acute;treatment of headache. In 1845 cannabis preparations were listed on the US dispensary. It was produced by large pharmaceutical manufacturers many of whom still exist today including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Park Davis, and Eli Lilly.
Cannabis experienced a resurgence during the anti-establishment era of the 1960s and 70s in the US with its recreational use of marijuana. This counterculture image created a lasting impression that fuels much of todays stigma associated with marijuana use. This is despite the overwhelmingly long and legitimate medical history of cannabis that existed for centuries prior.
Medical groups and journals who have advocated for this transition include, amongst many others:
Image: dried cannabis flower buds
How Cannabis Can Help With Migraines
For those who regularly experience migraines, life carries unique challenges. Seemingly harmless sensory stimuli, like bright lights, strong aromas, or loud noises, can trigger unbearable pain. Stress, neck tension, and even jet lag can set a crippling migraine in motion too. This intense pain can be accompanied by a loss of sensation, nausea, or alarming visual changes. The disruption associated with chronic migraines can be so constant it can even erode ones sense of self.;
Although drugs commonly prescribed for the prevention and treatment of migraines help some individuals, they dont offer relief for all migraineurs. Similar to many heavy-hitting medications, a host of unwanted side effects may ensue with use. However, evidence is accumulating that cannabis may be an effective treatment for migraines and chronic headaches.;
A November 2019 study published in the Journal of Pain reported that cannabis could reduce migraine and headache severity by 50%, and although tolerance can increase, cannabis use does not exacerbate headaches or migraines over time. Concentrates appeared to offer more significant relief than flower.;
So now we know cannabis can ease migraine symptoms, what are the most effective ways to harness its benefits?
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What Are The Benefits
The most obvious benefit of using THC for migraines is the pain relief aspect of it all. Cannabiss strong anti-inflammatory properties work beautifully in the brain, providing varying levels of relief to your headaches. Pair it with your typical headache treatment regimen, and you may discover a significant difference in your everyday headaches.;;
Along with the plants ability to lower inflammation, cannabis is 100% all-natural. That in and of itself is incredibly attractive to so many consumers especially those who have been through manufactured medication after medication. The plants risk factor is quite low, and even those who experience poor results are not left in any significant danger. Especially when viewing third-party lab-test results, you know exactly whats in the product youre consuming, verifying its pure and high-quality.;
Medical marijuana is also seriously versatile, making it excellent for so many different patients. Whether youre interested in smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, topicals, or even just CBD, theres a product out there for you.;
Studies On Medical Marijuana For Treating Migraines
Migraine sufferers have been treating their condition with medical marijuana for thousands of years. However, only in recent decades have cannabis researchers begun to understand how marijuana reduces pain and nausea and other symptoms, such as dizziness and blurred vision, which are sometimes associated with migraines.;
Although there is ample anecdotal evidence that is, reports from people who claim marijuana reduces their headaches and nausea little by little, the scientific evidence is beginning to mount as well.;
In 2001, Dr. Ethan Russo examined modern-day research as well as historical records mentioning the use of marijuana to treat migraines going back thousands of years. Dr. Russo concluded: Based on the above review, it is convincingly the case that medical marijuana deserves formal scientific scrutiny for migraine treatment. That was just the beginning
A decade and a half later, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reported that there was conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.;
There have been several studies and surveys into the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana in the treatment of migraines over the past two decades. Here are just a few:
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When Do You Dose If You Feel A Migraine Coming
Although the science that supports using cannabis for migraine treatment continues to grow, there still isnt much information regarding how to dose and when. Luckily there are experienced individuals that have been sharing their experiences to help us all along the way.
I use cannabis both as a prophylactic, to prevent migraines by reducing stress and relaxing muscles, and as a rescue remedy once migraine hits, to reduce intense pain and nausea, Boston Marathon survivor Lynn Crisci was quoted as saying.
Dr. Debra Kimless, MD, who is Chief Medical Officer at Pure Green;said The patients I have treated using cannabis enjoy tremendous success in reducing and eliminating the acute onset of their migraine symptoms, especially if they can dose when they first experience symptoms,.
Evidence shows that cannabis can work in both preventative treatment and reduction of symptoms.
What Is The Most Effective Delivery Method
Most studies involving cannabis for treatment of migraines are based on consuming cannabis orally and by inhalation.
Though more research comparing methods is needed, we can theorize from the current research that oral cannabis use may be sufficient and should be attempted first to avoid smoking in certain patients, states Polston. However, some patients may find inhalation useful for more rapid pain reduction as the onset of effects is faster.The complexity of migraines means that patient variability may lead to various methods being successful, but in a patient or symptom-dependent manner, mentioned Polston.
For Dr. Kimless, she her patients have found dosing tinctures under the tongue to be successful. Most of my patients prefer to use a sublingual delivery method; it is fast, effective, and discreet, she said.
Lynn Crisci prefers vaping to dose her cannabis. I prefer vaporizing cannabis oil, preferably in a vape pen, Lynn said. Vape pens allow me to microdose and control exactly how much medicine I am ingesting, while avoiding inhaling smoke into my lungs.
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Evidence That Cannabis Can Exacerbate Headaches
However, the waters become muddied by claims that cannabis can also trigger or exacerbate headaches. The 2020 Journal of Pain study also found that in 2.4% of headache cases and 3.1% of migraine cases, cannabis exacerbated headache symptoms.
The 2017 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal also found that cannabis can lead to worsening headache symptoms or even trigger episodes. The authors surmised that factors such as timing, frequency of use, administration method, and dosage might be influential. They also pointed out certain cannabinoids and terpenes may ease headache pain, while others might exhibit opposing effects.
Headaches have also been associated with weed hangovers. Excessive consumption of cannabis sometimes results in what’s colloquially known as a weed hangover the following day. Brain fog, groggy feelings, and headaches are commonly identified elements of the hangover.;
Withdrawal after chronic cannabis use may also spur a headache. In a study of 469 frequent cannabis smokers published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2010, 23.2% experienced headaches due to cannabis withdrawal.;
According to Mazanet, sensitivity to certain cultivars may also incite headaches. Some people are sensitive to THC strains that might cause them to experience anxiety, and that would not be a good thing for someone who had a headache to begin with, says Mazanet. People who know they are sensitive might want to try a hybrid product or one that contains CBD as well as THC.;;
Cannabinoids For Treatment Of Pain
The term cannabis may be confusing because there are many chemotypes of the Cannabis plant specifically related to 9-tetrahydrocannabinol content. THC, a partial agonist at cannabinoid 1 and 2 receptors , is the primary antinociceptive compound in cannabis, reputed to have opioid-sparing effects.9 The pain-relieving effects are primarily caused by THC agonist activity on binding to CB1, involved in pain processing in the central and peripheral nervous systems.10Cannabis plants contain many other cannabinoids and chemical classes. For example, there is much interest in cannabidiol , a nonintoxicating cannabinoid, with unsubstantiated claims by industry that can be misleading.
The primary drawback of THC is the psychoactive effects that can affect cognitive function in a dose-dependent manner. Cognitive effects include decreased working memory and executive function . However, dosing of THC at subintoxicating doses, in combination with CBD and a gradual up-titration may help to decrease these side effects.7 In fact, we are learning that less is more when it comes to dosing THC, meaning that lower doses of THC are likely more effective for pain and that higher doses may actually be hyperalgesic.11
Cannabis and Migraine
Cannabis and Other Painful Neurologic Conditions
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The Role Of The Endocannabinoid System In Migraine
According to Dr. Jim Polston, who holds a PhD in neuroscience and is the Chief Science Officer at Helius Therapeutics, cannabis works on migraines via the endocannabinoid system.
There is mounting evidence that the endocannabinoid system can directly reduce migraine pain when activated by naturally produced cannabinoids or medical cannabis taken by patients, said Polston. Cannabis can help to reduce inflammation in the protective dura mater tissue covering the brain and minimize the release of pro-inflammatory substances, both of which contribute to the onset of a migraine.;
Polston also points out that one cause of chronic migraines is anandamide deficiency. Anandamide is one of two cannabinoids naturally produced in the brain and is associated with reduced inflammation and activation of pain centers in the brain, he explained.
How Might Cannabis Work On The Body To Ease Headaches
The body’s serotonin system is a critical player in headaches and migraines. Low or fluctuating levels of serotonin are associated with headaches and migraines. Serotonin is also implicated in the body’s endocannabinoid system. Anandamide, one of the two main endocannabinoids found in the body, potentiates serotonergic receptors. Low levels of anandamide can also cause headaches and migraines. In fact, researchers theorize that migraine is one of several symptoms caused by Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency syndrome.;
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Migraine Sufferers Say Cannabis Brings More Relief Than Standard Treatments According To Recent Study
Migraine sufferers who have used both cannabis and prescription treatments say that cannabis works … better at bringing on relief
Migraine headaches are a fairly common condition, but for those who suffer from them, they can make life extremely difficult. With symptoms like throbbing headaches, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to sound and light, and even changes to vision like flashes of light or blind spots, when a migraine hits it can be difficult to engage with everyday life. In fact, migraines are so debilitating they are the second leading cause of disability for those younger than 50.;
Unfortunately, migraines can also be difficult to treat. While multiple prescription medications exist for migraines, they arent always effective for many of the migraine sufferers who try them. This has left many looking for alternative treatments for migraines.;
But a new study may give migraine sufferers a reason to hope that cannabis could be a helpful alternative for treating these intense headaches. According to the studys results, migraine sufferers who have used both cannabis and prescription treatments for their migraines say that cannabis works better at bringing on relief.;
Your Guide To Research Risks And How To Get Started
Medical cannabis for Migraine has received increasing attention in recent years, but the drugs relationship to pain dates back thousands of years. The loosening of cannabis laws finally made research a bit easier. Hence, scientists wasted no time exploring marijuanas potential for treating several conditions Migraine being only one of them.
Still, our knowledge is far from complete. If youre looking to try medical marijuana for Migraine, there are a few things you need to know.
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How Does Pot Ease Pain
Inside your brain and other parts of your body, you have a network of cannabinoid receptors. These are tiny loops of protein that affect how you feel pain.
Cannabinoids may also help with nausea, anxiety, muscle spasms, or other health problems.
THC is the cannabinoid in marijuana that gets most of the attention. Itâs what makes you feel high or relaxed. But another product made from cannabis called cannabidiol doesnât make you feel intoxicated and may help ease pain. Several states have made it legal for CBD to be used for medical reasons.
Does It Work For Migraines
Thereâs not a lot of research on this. In a study at the University of Colorado, 121 people who got regular migraine headaches used marijuana daily to prevent attacks. About 40% of them said the number of migraine headaches they got each month was cut in half.
The people used different types of marijuana, but they mostly inhaled it to ease a migraine in progress and found that it did help stop the pain. Edible products didnât seem to work as well.
The people who inhaled or smoked marijuana also said it was easier to control the amount of the drug they took in, and they had fewer negative reactions.
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