How Does Marijuana Help with Headaches?
Marijuana has been used as a form of medicinal relief for thousands of years. Its benefits have proven to be successful at treating a wide variety of ailments, neurological disorders, and diseases whose symptoms prevent the affected person from going about their normal day-to-day activities. Medical marijuana use is more commonly being recognized and accepted throughout the world, with people most commonly hearing of marijuana’s medicinal properties being used to relieve pain. In this article, we will focus our attention on how marijuana use helps to treat headache pain, but let’s first recognize how exactly marijuana is able to ease pain in the first place.
What is Pain, Anyway?
Pain is felt when the nerve fibers in the body send signals through the spinal chord to the brain to indicate that something is going wrong. The pain is considered the main defense mechanism of the body to prevent further injury when any form of tissue damage occurs. The experience of pain is completely unique per person and there are different ways to feel and describe pain. If you’ve ever found yourself trying to explain pain to a doctor, you know how difficult it can be to convey exactly what you’re feeling. Additionally, it can be very difficult to pinpoint a source of pain, making it even harder to treat properly.
In some cases, pain is referred to as a psychological phenomenon. This means that the more a person focuses on the pain that they are experiencing, the more severe that pain feels. Symptoms can be toned down in this case by finding a distraction. Have you ever felt pain, such as stubbing your toe, and pinched your arm to make the pain in your foot less-severe? If not, you should try it next time. For some reason, it’s almost as if you can relocate some of the pain that you’re feeling in your body to a different area.
How Does Marijuana Relieve Pain?
The compounds in the cannabis plant are what help with the treatment of pain, diseases, and other ailments once introduced into the body. The two main compounds are THC and CBD. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the most common cannabinoid in the marijuana plant. It is the compound that produces psychoactive effects and makes the user feel “high” when picked up by the neurotransmitters in the brain. It also plays a big role in pain relief, increasing appetite, and reducing nausea. The second main compound in the cannabis plant is CBD which is short for cannabidiol. CBD doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects like THC but is also great for pain management, reducing inflammation, and providing mental health benefits.
How Does Marijuana Help Relieve Headache Pain
Headaches are one of the most common types of medical complaints. They tend to affect everyone at some point, regardless of age, race, and gender. In fact, almost half of the worldwide population experiences a headache in any given year.
It can also be really difficult to figure out why you’re experiencing a headache in the first place. A Twitter user said it perfectly:
Typically, headaches are caused by overactivity of structures in the head that are pain-sensitive. This involves the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves in the head and neck. Headaches may also stem from changes in the chemical activity of the brain.
When marijuana is consumed, the parts of your brain affiliated with motivation and reward are more active. The brain starts to release reward-driven neurotransmitters, giving you a sense of euphoria. THC and CBD are able to suppress pain through a few different mechanisms like reducing inflammation, providing you with a bit of relief. Additionally, the “high” that comes from THC makes it easier for you to get distracted, thus eliminating that psychological phenomenon as previously mentioned.
There are many different methods of consumption for treating pain. The most common forms are smoking the herb itself, consuming pills, extracts, liquids, tinctures, applying topicals and patches, and vaporizing the herb or isolated liquid.
Migraines are much more intense than your average headache. The pain they produce is generally on the moderate to severe side and they tend to come with many other symptoms such as nausea, seeing spots or flashing lights, sensitivity to light or sound, vomiting, and temporary vision loss. Some people experience migraine headaches so severe that they seek out emergency medical assistance. Simply put: migraines are no joke. Medical marijuana can help.
It Really Works
In 2016, a study was conducted that evaluated 121 adults who experienced migraines and used medical marijuana to try and relieve their symptoms. The study found that, on average, those who suffered from migraines had their migraine frequency decrease from 10.4 migraines per month to 4.6 migraines per month due to the use of medical marijuana. A second study in 2017 found that, of those who were given a regulated dose of medical marijuana, 43.5% saw a reduction in pain intensity.
Marijuana vs Pain Medications: Which is Better?
I bet you’re wondering why someone would choose medical marijuana over pain medications when Tylenol and Advil tend to do the trick. Sometimes, traditional pain medications aren’t enough, and medical marijuana proves to be a much healthier and safer alternative. There are a few points to back up this claim.
First, marijuana isn’t addictive like pain meds. The world is currently experiencing an opioid epidemic, where 21% to 29% of those who are prescribed opioids for pain tend to misuse them. This can lead to an accidental overdose and even death. A study proved that the use of cannabis was affiliated with a 64% decrease in opiate medication use in patients who suffered from chronic pain. Even if you’re consuming an over the counter medication like Tylenol, there’s still a risk of potential overdose. Additionally, cannabis doesn’t come along with any of the dangerous side effects that pain meds can bring. The chronic use of some pain medications can be bad for your internal organs and lead to brain damage, kidney damage, liver damage, and damage to the lining of your stomach.
When an individual is experiencing moderate to severe headache pain, such as a migraine, sometimes traditional pain medications simply can’t provide necessary pain relief without the risk of overdosing. In this case, marijuana is the much safer option.
The results speak for themselves. Marijuana has proven to be a solid treatment for the pain relief of regular and migraine headaches. Some of you may be hesitant to try medical marijuana for fear of getting “high” but don’t worry, you can certainly opt for a CBD-only marijuana alternative. There are many CBD-only products available on the market that can help relieve headache symptoms such as vaporizers, tinctures (liquid extracts) for food, lotions to be applied to the skin (forehead) and isolate powders that can be mixed into foods and drinks.
If you’re looking to try marijuana for medicinal purposes for the first time, be sure to talk to your doctor first. With so many options out there, your doctor will be able to help you figure out the proper dosage along with which method of consumption will be most beneficial for your specific needs. Your doctor may even be able to recommend specific strains of marijuana that are better for pain relief (i.e. those containing higher levels of the CBD compound.) If your doctor doesn’t have an answer for you about the best strains, marijuana professionals who work at dispensaries will certainly be able to help.
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Check out our wide selection of flower, concentrates, edibles, and vape pens. If you’re having trouble deciding or have questions about any of our marijuana products, hit us up and we’d be happy to lend a hand.