Marijuana and migraine

So I have this friend. She has never been experimental when it comes to recreational drugs; in fact, her friends sometimes laugh at how utterly naïve she can be when talk turns to the crazy nights people had in college. The first time she tried smoking marijuana, she fell asleep within ten minutes and didn’t try again for years.

But my friend has a chronic pain condition and migraine disease, and she has read some research studies on the use of cannabis to help with chronic pain, nausea, and migraine. So she started experimenting with pot again.

Here’s the thing, though: my friend isn’t entirely sure if the pot is helping or not doing much at all. She says that sometimes when the migraine headache is particularly bad, having some pot will take the edge off. But there have also been times when she wonders if smoking or ingesting marijuana actually made her head congestion stuffier and her head pain a little worse.

I’ve talked to her at length about this, but since she’s not ever taken before and after notes with each pot session, it’s hard for either of us to know if it’s affecting her or not. And medical research is scant at best, at least in the grand scheme of research. It’s hard to come by funding to support independent studies on marijuana since the drug is illegal in most of the country, and what studies there are tend to conflict with one another.

Do you have any experiencing using marijuana for migraine? Like many of you, I would be willing to explore the option were it presented to me with the encouragement/blessing from my doctor. What do you think? Have you had any positive or negative experiences using marijuana or other non-prescribed drugs to treat your migraine?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (38)
  • Migraine
    5 years ago

    I am detailing my success with medical marijuana here if anyone is interested. I am having great success so far! http://migrainelifemm.blogspot.ca/?m=1

  • Mary
    5 years ago

    I’ve smoked marijuana for over 20 years and it has changed my migraine life! I am able to continue doing basic things in life, like housework when I smoke. I would be stuck laying in bed without it and nothing would get done. Because of marijuana, I can go out and do things with my family that I would otherwise be home, hiding from the world due to my pain and sluggishness. Marijuana helps me get up and go on with life. I first realized that it helped my always nauseas stomach, within minutes I feel completely better and can eat a normal meal. I also believe that it takes away a lot of the pain, although doesn’t completely relieve it. What the pot does for the pain is, as most people say, takes the edge off the pain and makes you forget about the pain. That’s the kind of memory loss I want! Once I smoke, I can eat and once I eat, I can take the migraine medication (Treximet) that makes my migraine go away completely. If I couldn’t smoke, I couldn’t take my medication because it causes nausea and stomach pain so I cannot take Treximet on an empty stomach. I have tried tons of medications through the years, and although the Treximet has these side effects it is the only drug currently on the market that ends my migraine. I hope and pray that marijuana will be made legal in the entire U.S.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    smrtipants,
    Thanks for sharing your story about how marijuana helps your Migraines. I personally am just starting to read more about it and consider it as a possibility for me. I live in a state that allows it for medicinal uses but I’ve never really used it before. It’s good to hear positive things about it!
    -Katie

  • Mairead
    5 years ago

    Smoking marijuana regularly when I was younger significantly reduced the number of migraine days I had a month. I do not smoke anymore simply because it is illegal here, but I wish it were legal. It is the only thing I’ve found that prevents and treats the pain associated with migraine effectively. Also, when used acutely, the migraine doesn’t come back when the effects of the drug where off.
    This is only with Indicas though. Sativas will make my migraines worse or bring one on if I did not have one to begin with.

  • Kurt Donley
    6 years ago

    A very close friend of mine suffers from chronic migraines, several times a week and takes a lot of medications to reduce the frequency, duration, affect, etc… She weaned herself of her daily meds, which no longer seemed to be doing anything other than making her fuzzy.
    We went to Amsterdam and she tried Indicas daily for a week (which is the recommended type – Sativas can make things worse).
    Not only did she not have a migraine while we were there, she didn’t even get a tinge of a headache. This lasted a good two weeks after we got back, then things slowly went back to normal. In the 19th century cannabis was the primary means of treatment for migraines and researchers thought it to be Cannabis’ best use.
    As a note while the cannabis had a deleterious effect on me, her not so much…

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing that information with us, Kurt.

    Using marijuana for any medication condition is still controversial. There are as you’ve seen people who benefit from it.

    Nancy

  • mpana
    7 years ago

    I’ve been using medical marijuana for a little over a year now. Nothing has helped me more in the past three years of my daily headache. It has helped me cut down immensely on the number of severe migraines I get and treats my pain extremely well. I can even go grocery shopping every now and again w/out disastrous aftereffects (if I medicate before and well afterwards). However, it will cause more pain (and nausea) if I’m too far into a migraine attack… an odd effect since it cures pain until that tipping point. I’m blessed to be in a state that just implemented the policy of legal medical marijuana… my doctor recommended it to me (otherwise I would not have thought to ask about it).

  • tucker
    7 years ago

    I’ve never tried it but just the other night some friends suggested I should b/c I’ve lost so much weight from nausea/vomiting in the past 2 years. Even my family doc said I should be on mystery diagnosis since all the specialists can’t find a real problem. Maybe the answer comes from the good doctor at the “corner drugstore”….. (Anyone ever see the episode of Two and 1/2 men when Charlie couldn’t sleep?) Hey, maybe it would fix the chronic migraines and pain too (pain that is attributed to all my bones on the mattress – whatever)

  • sc_21116e2e43f58fd87c3b9d40ac61ec12
    7 years ago

    I have never smoked pot in my life and don’t plan on it. Pot, however, wouldn’t work for me. The smell of it is actually a trigger for me and it causes serious migraines.

  • Angela
    7 years ago

    Yes I find if I am having a bad migraine day it will take the edge off. However I am at the same time wondering if because Marijuana is a plant if it affects people with allergies. Some times I do feel as if when I am smoking it may cause a mild headache. Is it a fluke?

  • Fiona Fletcher
    7 years ago

    Tried it, and sad to say it didn’t help at all with the pain, but I believe what research there is says it works best for chronic pain conditions, not the acute severe pain of migraine. Although have to admit, I didn’t actually care quite that much about the pain as I usually do :p

  • dshermjr
    7 years ago

    PS. Just remember it will dehydrate you, so drink plenty of water

  • dshermjr
    7 years ago

    I suffer from migraines almost daily and I hate putting anything foreign in my body, but unfortunately my pain is a reality and all I can say is that it really does work. I have taken over 20-25 different medications, Attempting to find balance this drug helps reduce pain, eye pressure, anxiety, spasms, and nausea. It also helps curb the side effects of other medication. I am blessed to be in a legal county & I recommend all pain sufferers to try it. Nobody complains when I come home from the hospital full of morphine but Im a dope head if I try cannibus. There is a stigma to everything we do, and if it helps why not?

  • dshermjr
    7 years ago

    To the Migraine Girl, I have found that a really strong sativa is too intense on the head. Try a heavy indica when you wanna sleep or relax or a hybrid (Sat+Ind) 50/50, if you’re not sure just ask if its Sativa or Indica dominate.

  • 7 years ago

    Although I have never tried medicinal (Legal) marijuana, I agree that pot worked best to reduce stress and eliminate nausea however, there are many different kinds and strengths of marijuana. I used to use marijuana as a preventative/prophylactic and for nausea. I can definitely remember using marijuana when I had a very bad migraine and having it become intensely worse and pushing me over the edge and having to go to the ER, although this might have happened anyway. Because it is illegal where I live, I have not smoked or ingested marijuana in about 6 years. I have a relative who gets this prescribed in a western state where medical marijuana is legal and it really works for their pain condition, although not a migraine pain, chronic pain nonetheless. I think marijuana should be made available as medicine to people who need it and should not be illegal.

  • Catherine Friemel Kennedy
    7 years ago

    Oh I would LOVE to try and see if it helps. I just have no connections to get the marijuana.

  • Jill Parsons
    7 years ago

    Weed Wars on National Geographic Channel is very informative. There are many migraine sufferers that swear by marijuana for pain alleviation.

  • disko
    7 years ago

    With medical cannabis now illegal again in Michigan, its risky to try. Having said that, it is criminal in and of itself, that this weed can’t be used by people in pain to get relief.

  • aspenmarks
    7 years ago

    I’ve had mostly success using pot. I ingested and smoked, but for nausea smoke is best. I had to use it last night with vicodin and my daily amitriptalin and trazadone. It really does take the edge off the pain. There are differences in types of pot, the kinds that wake you up and the kinds that make you sleepy and varying kinds in between. The nausea is my biggest challenge, I have to also use a suppository. I’d like to also hear of other non-prescribed Rx’s too.

  • Patrick Q. Mewes
    7 years ago

    I take Marinol (synthetic THC) for my migraines and chronic headaches. It is the only medication that has ever made a difference in my headaches. It relaxes me as well and I don’t have the anxiety about the pain like I used to. Since I don’t live in a medical marijuana state, and I don’t like to smoke because of my asthma, Marinol is perfect for me. Check with your neurologist (and your insurance company – this stuff can be really expensive without drug benefits) if you want to give it a try. Get the 2.5 or 5mg pills so you can experiment with the dosage.

  • Chad Whyte
    7 years ago

    The general concensus in the migraine world is that it could lead to medication overuse headache. Not to mention a recent study about chronic use causing memory problems.

  • mpana
    7 years ago

    Hi Chad, I’ve never heard about the suspicion of marijuana contributing to overuse headache. If you get any links, mind posting one or two? Thanks!

  • Sharon Gilman Moulton
    7 years ago

    It definitely helps with the nausea and sometimes I do find that although it doesn’t necessarily help the pain, it relaxes me and does make it easier to deal with. I have been using it for years for my migraines and will continue to do so.

  • Sherry Blair
    7 years ago

    if it was legal I would use it for nausea but if you have a TRUE migraine weed is NOT going to help.

  • Mairead
    5 years ago

    I have used marijuana to treat a “true” migraine and it made my pain and all of my symptoms go away. However, sativas make the head pain worse. Indicas are the ones you want to use for migraine.

  • Lynne Schultz
    7 years ago

    I only ever tried marijauna one time when I felt a migraine coming on. Not only did it stop the migraine but relaxed me enough that I didn’t stress about it returning. I think in some cases it can be helpful, and honestly I would use it if it were legal.

  • DiAnn Boehm
    7 years ago

    When John is hurting really bad…sometimes I wonder if it WOULD help…nothing else does.

  • Lynne Schultz
    7 years ago

    I would probably use it anyway if I had a source i could trust to get it from. There is no way that it could be a harmful to me as some of the other things I’ve had to take for it over the years 🙁

  • Sandy Laskey
    7 years ago

    it helps with the nausea for sure not so much the pain.

  • Kari Rogers
    7 years ago

    It works! Lol!!

  • Tracy N Hughes
    7 years ago

    I’ve never smoked anything (or even held a lit cigarette) and I wouldn’t even contemplate starting smoking anything no matter how bad my migraines got. I wouldn’t condemn anyone for trying it though, it’s just not for me…

  • Donna White
    7 years ago

    i have a friend who smokes it coz she suffers with spondylosis and it eases the pain better than any meds coz it relaxes the muscles better – but unless ur in that situation u’d never know what to do when prescribed drugs don’t work – i can’t stand the smell of it x

  • Tracy N Hughes
    7 years ago

    I take supplements that are supposed to help and I think they do to an extent. I’ve come off my medication and the migraines I’ve had aren’t any different to when I was on meds. I just have fewer other things to deal with now!

  • Keith Bishop
    7 years ago

    If the doctor doesn’t prescribe it, I won’t touch it! I have been told to try herbal remedies, but my doctor said you can’t be sure how they will rreact with my prescription drugs, as tests haven’t been done on illegals!

  • Colin Smylie
    7 years ago

    A little trip to Holland for you then 🙂

  • Tracy N Hughes
    7 years ago

    Kitty Atwood I would try if it also wasn’t illegal over here lol Class B drug :-/ http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/emotional_health/addictions/cannabis.shtml

  • Kitty Atwood
    7 years ago

    you can always eat it.

  • steph
    7 years ago

    It’s the only medicine I’ve tried (and I’ve run the gamut) that’s helped me be somewhat functional with my chronic migraines. Knocks the pain down, knocks my stress down, and keeps me moving on all but my very worst days.

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