A migraine is a recurrent throbbing or pounding feeling ranging from moderate to severe intensity. Usually felt on just one side of the head, it can occur anywhere on the head, neck or face and is often accompanied by vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. One of the most common symptoms is nausea, which worsens with activity to the point of being disabling. In many respects, migraines are much like alcohol-related hangovers.
Migraine pain in the face is sometimes mistaken for a sinus headache; or in the neck, mistaken for arthritis or muscle spasm. Migraines may also be accompanied by the sinus-like symptoms of watery eyes and nasal congestion; most people who think they have a sinus headache in fact are having a migraine.
In up to 25% of patients, the migraine headache pain may be preceded by visual disturbances such as flashing lights, zigzags or blind spots. Many people experience confusion, difficulty speaking, vertigo, numbness and other stroke-like neurological symptoms.
How Cannabis Can Help Relieve Symptoms
Marijuana might be one alternative treatment for migraine relief. Some research shows that it may help ease migraine symptoms or possibly keep them from starting. In a presentation to the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in 2017, Italian researchers provided additional evidence on the use of cannabis for both prevention and acute treatment of migraine.
The researchers first studied the proper dose of cannabis. A group of 48 people with chronic migraine were given oral doses of medical marijuana with varying levels of THC and CBD. Investigators found that with an oral dose of 200mg, acute pain dropped by 55%. In phase two of the research, 79 chronic migraine sufferers were given either a daily dose of marijuana or amitriptyline (a common antidepressant used as a treatment for migraine). The participants were also able to use 200mg of marijuana for acute attacks.
After three months, those who received marijuana had a 40.4% reduction in migraine attacks compared to 40.1% of those who received the antidepressant. Researchers also found that the medical marijuana used for acute treatment reduced pain intensity by 43.5%. More importantly, cannabis is safer than opiates, being nearly impossible to overdose and far less addictive.