Headaches, and headache disorders like migraines, are among the most common disorders of the nervous system and nearly half of all adults in the world have had a headache at least once within the last year. Research estimates some 5.2 million emergency room visits annually due to headaches.
Migraines and other headache disorders are mild, dull, and distracting at best. At worst, they are completely debilitating. Most people with migraines can’t work or function normally, and at least half of sufferers require bed rest during an attack. Migraine Headaches are the 7th highest cause of disability worldwide, and severe and persistent migraines have been found to be as disabling as quadriplegia, dementia, and active psychosis.
Headaches and associated conditions have been categorized into various disorders. The most common headache disorder being Migraine headaches. There is also tension-type headache, cluster headache, and medication overuse headache. Headaches can be severe, cause substantial loss of quality of life, and impose a financial burden due to health care costs and disability.
It didn’t take humans long to figure out that a bump on the head meant pain was soon to follow. Since, we’ve expanded our understanding of how headaches happen, even without injury. Primary headaches are caused by overactivity or problems in the specialized cells located in the head that controls pain perception. Alcohol, processed foods, alterations to sleeping patterns, poor posture, stress, and lack of appetite are all associated with developing primary headaches, like cluster and tension headaches.
Secondary headaches are a symptom of a disease or medical condition triggering pain receptors in the head. The causes and conditions are numerous. The flu, meningitis, hypertension, glaucoma, infectious and inflammatory diseases, tumors, dehydration, and MSG can all contribute to headaches.
Most with daily headaches turn to over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol and ibuprofen. However, consumers of these drugs should be aware that they lose effectiveness in long-term use and can be addictive. They can also increase the risk of heart failure and are known to cause ulcers. NSAIDs are even related to a serious condition in children that affects the internal organs called Reye’s Syndrome.
For the most common headache type, migraine, triptans are the treatment of choice for most physicians. A WebMD article recently published findings of a study on people with recurring migraine headaches. Researchers found that 2 out of 3 people delayed taking prescribed drugs due to concerns about adverse reactions. Patients also reported that when they didn’t take prescription migraine drugs, their headaches returned stronger and longer.
Triptans can induce sleepiness and fatigue, cognitive impairment, and trouble functioning. Also included in its effects are dizziness, muscle weakness, chest pressure, and warm sensation, suggesting that these drugs are dangerous for people with high risk of heart conditions.
Dr. Roger Cady, headache specialist is quoted saying, “Even the best medications are only effective about half the time.” Results from other studies support the statement. A study on middle-aged women suffering chronic migraines found that migraine medications only relieve pain in twenty to forty percent of those who take them.
The American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society currently recommend two types of antiepileptic drugs and two beta-blockers for adult migraine prevention. However, there are severe adverse events associated with these types of antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Read more about that in our article on epilepsy or depression.
Cannabis has been used for centuries as a remedy for a headache and pain problems. Author of The Use of Cannabis for Headache Disorders, Bryson Lochte, wrote an extensive review of cannabis use for headache treatment. In the paper, the author cites various preclinical and scientific research, concluding that cannabis is likely to emerge as a potential treatment for headache disorders, even though the FDA and federal government continue its prohibition.
Medical marijuana may be able to stop a cascade of processes in the pathogenesis of headaches, preventing them from occurring. Interestingly, the report informs how triptans, the most commonly prescribed drug for the most common type of headache, works by activating endocannabinoids receptors that affect neurons in the periaqueductal medulla. Cannabis, in the body, works similarly to normal headache medications, except it doesn’t have such detrimental and dangerous side effects. Research also suggests that it may work even better than traditional pharmaceuticals.
Cannabis is able to treat various causes and symptoms of acute and chronic pain, nausea, and other conditions associated with headaches due to its unique ability to activate our own homeostatic regulatory systems. Headaches can stem from a multitude of factors and stresses, and marijuana will affect individuals differently with different conditions. Consult with a physician and medical marijuana professional about using cannabis to treat headache disorders and follow the links below to strains of medical marijuana that have been reported to help with headache pain causes and symptoms.
· [[13 Dawgs]]
· [[3 Kings]]
· [[8 Ball Kush]]
· [[Alaskan Ice]]
· [[Alien Reunion]]
· [[Atomic Goat]]
· [[Berry White]]
· [[Black Haze]]
· [[Black Mamba]]
· [[Blue Dream]]
· [[Blue Ivy]]
· [[Blue Nightmare]]
· [[Blueberry headband]]
· [[Blueberry Silvertip]]