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Cannabis and CBD for Headaches

A person who suffers from headaches has pain or discomfort under the scalp or front of the eye or from the head or neck. Although headaches can occur occasionally or frequently, according to the World Health Organization, it still constitutes the most frequent nervous system disorder, which affects at least half the adult population once a year.

Muscle tension is the leading cause of headaches. Fever, head injury, viral infections, sinusitis, and migraines are also common causes of headaches. Headaches can be a reaction of the body to emotional stress, sadness, sleep or depression too much or too little. Upon physical stress, vomiting, eye stress or sex, some people get a headache. Headaches can be caused by inflammation of the structures surrounding or influencing the activity of the brain. They may include colds or flu, fever, head/neck muscle rigidity, dental or jaw pain, head-and-neck trauma, symptoms of sinuses, brain bleeding and infections such as encephalitis. Toxins, for example, too much alcohol, smoking or allergy-based or spoiled food can also cause headaches. Headaches could be the first indication of carbon monoxide or other environmental poisons, caused by abuse or withdrawal of substance. General care for a mild headache includes rest, stress relief, cold compresses, ear and head massages, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and NSAIDs. Prevention of headache includes good habits like healthy foods and alcohol and cigarettes. Headache Prevention Eliminate external stressors and try to practice regular sleep schedules as much as possible. Medications for migraine headaches and narcotic pain medications may be included in additional treatment for headaches.

What is a Headache?

There are many different types of headaches, and there may be different causes and symptoms. Despite the fact that most are short-lived and never a problem. A common complaint is headaches. Most people will experience a headache from time to time, according to the World Health Organization. Although sometimes they can be painful and debilitating, the rest can be treated with simple painkillers and will leave in a few hours. Yet repeated attacks or certain forms of headaches may be a symptom of something more severe.

Headaches can range from very painful to annoying. People may experience pain in the back of the head and upper neck or behind the eyes, throbbing, squeezing or constant or intermittent. Many people feel tension or tightness in the temples. They feel like a poke in the eye, a stabbing in the brain, or a band of pressure around the head. Severe headaches can cause nausea and vomiting. The headache usually occurs alone but may coexist with other symptoms, which can be important clues to the underlying cause of a headache. Symptoms that may occur with headaches include blurry vision, confusion, walking or speaking difficulties, excessive sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, neck pain, stiffness of the neck, and increased sensitivity to light or noise.

In some cases, immediate medical treatment can involve a headache. If you experience any of the following alongside your headache, seek immediate medical care:

  • stiff neck
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • any fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
  • rash
  • the worst headache you’ve ever had
  • slurred speech
  • paralysis in any part of your body or visual loss

Below are the various types and definitions of headaches:

Tension Headaches – The stress is still experienced by the majority of people. However, some people have stress headaches almost every day, which are regarded as chronic. Pressure or muscular stress on both sides of the head or on the back of the necks are common symptoms of tension headaches. The pain is often constant, not abrupt or punchy. Some people say stress headaches are forced around their heads by a band.

Hormone Headaches – In the case of males and females, hormones play a role in the reaction to headaches. Females can, however, suffer as well as menstrual migraines from hormone headaches. Such migraines can start before or during a woman’s period. Symptoms include sharp, one-side throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting, and light, sound, and even touch sensitivity.

Cluster Headaches – Headaches in clusters affect men more often than women. These are extremely intense, very frequent headaches that last from 30 to 45 minutes; in one day, a person may have many. They usually come on without notice, unexpectedly catching people. The pain is piercing and is usually located around the eye on one side of the head. Teary eyes on the affected side and sinus congestion are also reported by people. Over a period of time, headaches will recur, almost always on the same side, and a headache-free period of varying length will follow.

Migraines Versus Headaches

Due to the intensity of the pain and the overall effect they have on the body, migraines are a form of headache that is often placed in a class by itself. For some individuals, the signs of migraine include auras, hallucinations that appear before the hits of pain. The auras can be visible or cause motor or verbal disruptions (see lines or spots). It is estimated that there are migraines in 36 million people in the United States. Many, however, do not have auras migraines. Migraine pain is normally one-sided, usually throbbing and scratching, but it can affect both sides. Patients also show sensitivity during migraine attacks to light and noisy noises as well as nausea. Typically, a migraine attack will last between 4 and 72 hours. Migraines can last for a few days, though.

Primary vs. Secondary Headaches

Headaches may be primary or secondary.

A primary headache is caused by pain or a disorder from the head itself, such as a migraine or tension headache. While a secondary headache comes from outside the head, such as a flu-related headache or as a side effect of hormonal fluctuations in the body.

Symptoms of Headaches

There are many forms of headaches, and there may be different symptoms. Below are a person’s most common symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • tenderness of the scalp
  • tightness sensation in the head
  • vertigo
  • stroke
  • Nausea
  • pain in the eyes when looking into bright lights (photophobia)
  • dizziness

How Cannabis Can Help Relieve the Symptoms of Headaches

Recently, Cannabidiol took the U.S. by surprise. The active ingredient found in cannabis, or marijuana, plant, commonly known as CBD, is becoming widely accessible via online retailers, with pain benefits and inflammation reduction. And they have acknowledged those suffering from migraines.

In an effort to understand the benefits and risks of using CBD migraine oil, researchers talked to Dr. Stephen Silberstein, Director of the Headache Center at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and said that “Unlike THC, another widely known cannabis plant derivative, CBD oil has no psychoactive properties or effects. It works locally, and even if it is taken orally, it will not produce intoxication,”

There is no scientific evidence or research on CBD as an effective treatment for migraines — largely because it has not been formally studied. However, some patients with migraine-associated joint and muscle pain may still have a viable topical option. “If you have a lot of neck pain or soreness, it is perfectly reasonable to use CBD oil. It may even prevent nausea and vomiting,” Dr. Silberstein says.

Medical Cannabis Treatment for Headaches

According to a new study led by Carrie Cuttler, professor of psychology at Washington State University, inhaled cannabis decreases the perceived severity of headaches and migraines by almost 50 percent, regardless of THC and CBD potency Despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal in 33 out of 50 states in the U.S., there is not much research on its treatment success, and even less on specific strains and doses. The study by Cuttler, recently published in the Journal of Pain, is the first to use real-time data to assess the effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of headaches and migraines.

According to study results, inhaled cannabis reduced headache severity by 47.3 percent and migraine severity by 49.6 percent. Differences by gender were detected in the results, but on a very small scale—only 1.1 percent and 1.8 percent—limiting the practical application of the knowledge. Nonetheless, the authors of the study found that headache exacerbation was reported by more women than men, while headache reduction was reported by more men than women after cannabis use.

In the study results, the researchers also considered the effect of various strains and doses of cannabis. Within the Strainprint app, users are encouraged to enter the cannabis strain they are about to use by selecting from a list of more than 1,000 strains sold by licensed Canadian medical cannabis distributors and cannabis concentrates. For each of these varieties, the  THC and CBD content are prepopulated in the device and was collected through analyses performed by one of the licensed dealers of Health Canada.

Surprisingly, there was no significant difference in recorded pain reduction between cannabis strains that were higher or lower in THC and CBD rates, the two most common cannabinoids, the researchers noted.   This means that the hundreds of other cannabinoids in cannabis are actually playing a much more prevalent therapeutic role than previously thought. In addition, the use of cannabis concentrates, such as CBD oil, for patients in the study, t the pain levels were associated with significantly greater reductions. Cuttler does not believe this is due to dose, however, as there was an obvious lack of dose effects.   More research is needed in both of these areas as further findings could provide more information for medical cannabis patients to guide their selection of cannabis.


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Data Last Updated 03/16/2020