Migraines are a chronic condition for many people, and the pain can be so severe that they frequently become debilitating. If you’ve ever suffered from a migraine, you know how painful they can be, and they’re also typically accompanied by a slew of other uncomfortable to downright miserable symptoms such as nausea and light sensitivity.

Migraines are not just difficult to deal with, but they’re also hard to treat. There are some different prescription medicines that aim to help people with migraines, but they’re often ineffective, or they have their own symptoms that aren’t much more pleasant than the migraine itself.

That’s why people are increasingly looking at marijuana and migraines. Is there anything to it? Does marijuana help or cause migraines? Below is more information about this type of severe headache as well as specific information about marijuana and migraines.

Article at a Glance:

  • Migraines are extreme headaches with sensory symptoms that can be difficult to treat.
  • Limited research has been done about the connection of marijuana and migraines.
  • Some migraine sufferers have hope that with further research, marijuana may be able to help them.
  • However, marijuana comes with its own adverse effects, which means that self-medication without standardized dosing is not advised.

What Is a Migraine?

A migraine isn’t just a headache. It’s a severe headache with extreme pain that also often includes sensory symptoms like blind spots or seeing flashes of light before it happens. People may also experience tingling in their extremities, light and sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting before or during a migraine.

A migraine is usually located on one side of the head, and these headaches affect tens of millions of Americans.

Some of the symptoms of a migraine include pain that’s often only on one side as was mentioned, more pain when straining or being physically active, feeling sick and vomiting, and the inability to do the things you normally do because of the pain. Some people may be so sensitive to light during a migraine that they have to stay in a quiet, dark room and people may also have symptoms like sweating, changes in temperature and diarrhea.

Something called an aura often warns people they are about to get a migraine. An aura is a change in perception that can include feeling confused, seeing strange lights, zig-zags in the visual field, blind spots in the visual field, problems speaking or stiffness.

There’s not a cure for migraines, and most medications that are prescribed are intended to mitigate symptoms, but they might not work at all for some people. There are certain things people can do regarding their lifestyle that may help, such as avoiding certain trigger foods and making sure to drink plenty of water, but even when making these changes, they may still experience migraines. Medicines are grouped into classifications based on whether they’re preventative or they treat a migraine that’s already started.

The exact cause of migraines isn’t known, but it’s thought to be linked to abnormalities in brain activity that changes nerve signals, blood flow and chemical levels in the brain temporarily.

So what about marijuana and migraines? Does marijuana help or cause migraines?

Does Marijuana Help or Cause Migraines?

Migraine sufferers are often on the lookout for treatment options because people with chronic migraines will often lose time at work, time with their family and general time from their life as a result of the pain and side effects. One option that’s been explored is marijuana, so what should be known about marijuana and migraines?

Does marijuana help or cause migraines?

There has been a limited amount of research recently showing that marijuana and migraines may have a beneficial relationship with one another. There have been antidotal reports about migraine sufferers using marijuana, but it’s only recently that this has been backed up by research.

There was one study in particularly at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and participants with migraines were treated with medical marijuana for a period of four years. The study found that their migraines were significantly reduced for the most part. The study also looked at the effects of using marijuana in different ways, for example, smoking versus eating it. Based on that study the most beneficial way to use marijuana to help migraines is inhaling it.

The researchers said their findings were significant, and they believe it could be a jumping off point to move toward states legalizing marijuana to treat migraines.

While there are promising results when looking at marijuana and migraines, researchers are quick to point out that there can be negative effects of marijuana as well. Even when medical marijuana has benefits, it may also have adverse effects that should be carefully weighed.

While there’s a lot of research that still needs to be done on marijuana and migraines, it’s believed that the cannabidiol or CBD from marijuana may be one of the key components that alleviates pain. CBD also doesn’t make a person feel high because it’s another chemical in marijuana, THC, that’s responsible for that.

Summing Up—Marijuana and Migraines

So, does marijuana help or cause migraines?

Based on research coming out recently it seems that with marijuana and migraines, the drug might actually be able to help, at least somewhat. With this being said, the research on marijuana and migraines in its very early stages and most of what we know about it at this point is based on antidotal evidence, but there does seem to be positive information on the horizon.

Despite the potential positive links between marijuana and migraines, marijuana isn’t without adverse effects, and these are things people should be aware of. You also shouldn’t try to self-medicate your migraines using marijuana because there’s no standardized dosing or regulation, so you don’t know what you might actually be using if you do this.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.