Migraine is a complex neurochemical disorder most commonly characterized as severe headaches typically lasting from two hours to a few days. There are no tests, such as blood tests, that could tell if someone is having a migraine and the diagnoses is biased on a clinical pattern.
Migraines have typically 4 phases;
1. The Prodrome phase occurs hours or days before the onset of the migraine
2. The Aura phase, which happens right before the headache
3. The Pain phase is when the headache and other symptoms occur
4. The Postdrome phase happens after the end of the attack with some symptoms persisting for some days
Not all patients experience all of these phases.
What most patients experience is a strong headache which is often predominant on one side of the brain. It is often associated with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, double vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells. Other symptoms include not being able to make sentences, irritability, depression and fatigue.
We still know very little about the causes of migraines but there is a strong genetic factor and mixed also with environmental factors.
It has been proven that people who suffer from migranes have lower levels of anandamide in their blood. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that has binding affinity to CB1 and CB2 receptors similar to THC.
This further suggests that that people who experience migranes have an endocannabinoid deficincy.
Cannabis has been used as an effective treatment form migranes for centuries. The first mention in the literature dates back to 4000 years ago from Acadian and Sumerian texts.
In the period from 1840 to 1940 preparations from cannabis were used for a wide variety of disease and one of the most frequent uses was for migraines.
Dr William Osler, who is considered the father of modern medicine and wrote the first textbook on internal medicine in the late 1890’s. In all three editions of that textbook said that Cannabis was the most effective treatment for treating migraine headaches.
In 1942, Morris Fishbein, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, said he thought that Cannabis was the best treatment for migraine headaches.
For a complete history of use of cannabis for the treatment of migraines, there is a link to Dr. Ethan Russo’s great article “Hemp for Headache: An In-Depth Historical and Scientific Review of Cannabis in Migraine Treatment” in the “Studies” section.
This statement summarizes the effects of cannabis on migraine:
“The unique attributes of cannabis to affect serotonergic, dopaminergic, opioid, anti-inflammatory, and NMDA mechanisms of migraine, both acutely and prophylactically, have rendered it a proposed “ideal drug” for its treatment.”(Russo, 2008)
As both THC and CBD have an important role in the treatmernt of migraines a good starting point would be a strain that has a 1:1 ratio between this two cannabinoids.
It is also very important that you smell the strains that you are going to use and choose the one that has the best smell to you. This is your body’s way of telling you that that particular strain will be most beneficial for you.
As an example, the patient in this video describes the various methods of cannabis applications that she finds to relive her symptoms and when talking about vaporisation, she vaporizes the strain that has the best smell for her.
There are several methods of taking the cannabis; vaporisation, topicals, tinctures and extracts. Smoking is not recommended for patients, as it produces a lot of toxic by-products that are carcinogenic and irritate the lungs. A better alternative is using a vaporiser, which has the same benefits, without the unhealthy side effects.