Cannabis For Headaches
The good news if you’re a sufferer of occasional or chronic tension headaches is that cannabis can help put those torture-chamber episodes behind you.
Tension headaches are the most common form of headache, occurring in about three-quarters of the general population, according to the American Migraine Foundation. They can range from the occasional mild episode headaches to chronic attacks.
But how do you know if that’s why your noggin is throbbing?
There are four basic types of headaches – tension, cluster, migraine and sinus, according to Medlineplus.gov, an arm of the National Institutes of Health. Tension headaches often most closely resemble migraines but are typically more of a steady pain and don’t cause visual disturbances, nausea or vomiting. Physical activity also often aggravates migraine pain, but it doesn’t appear to make tension headaches worse.
If you’re not sure what’s afflicting you, consult a medical professional.
Scientists don’t really know what causes tension headaches. They believe that they “occur when neck and scalp muscles become tense, or contract,” as Medlineplus.gov notes, but they also acknowledge that they can be triggered by physical or emotional stress; alcohol use; caffeine (too much or not enough if you’re a regular consumer); colds; the flu; sinus infection; dental problems such as jaw-clenching or teeth grinding; eye strain; excessive smoking; fatigue; or overexertion.
Research also indicates that women are slightly more likely to suffer tension headaches and that the episodes can last anywhere from hours to days. It’s also believed that people with a heightened sensitivity to pain are particularly susceptible and may also have other symptoms such as increased muscle tenderness.
More encouraging from the treatment end is that there are multiple approaches that have been shown to help. Regular exercise and techniques such as biofeedback and relaxation therapy appear to alleviate stress and thereby help combat tension headaches.
Cannabis Anti Inflammatory Effects
While aspirin and other anti-inflammatory NSAIDs that have serious side effects are often recommended by doctors, sufferers may want to explore the natural benefits of cannabis for inflammation before going down the pharmaceutical road.
Cannabis has been used since ancient times as a treatment for headaches, dating at least to the Assyrian Empire thousands of years B.C.
And as recently as the late 1800s, no lesser an authority than William Gowers — known today as one of the founders of modern neurology — published an influential textbook that highly recommended the use of marijuana to treat acute headaches.
The shift to considering cannabis as an illicit drug in the early 20th century put an end to medical applications.
It also inhibited scientific research on its positive effects, as noted by researchers with the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, noted in a review of the scientific literature published in April 2017:
“Although clinical trials of cannabis for neuropathic pain have shown promising results, there has been limited research on its use, specifically for headache disorders.”
Nabilone vs Ibuprophen
In the most rigorous study to date, researchers compared nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid that mimics tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), to ibuprofen in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 2009.
“Although both substances showed improvement from baseline, nabilone was significantly more effective than ibuprofen in reducing pain intensity, analgesic intake and medication dependence, as well as in improving quality of life,” they concluded.
Medical Marijuana For Headaches +43%
There also is plenty of anecdotal evidence that cannabis can help fight headache pain. A survey of nine medical marijuana clinics in California found that 2.7 percent of medical marijuana cards were issued by physicians for treatment of headaches and that 40.7 percent of the patients self-reported that cannabis had therapeutic benefits for headaches and migraines.
If you decide to see if cannabis can help relieve your headache pain, some experimentation will likely be required to find the strain and right application method that works best for you.
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