The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of medical marijuana and related compounds,
including cannabinoids. Links to third party websites do not constitute an
endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana Inc. and none should
Migraines are a type of intense throbbing and pulsating headache that
commonly cause nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. While
migraines and their debilitating symptoms affect 10% of the worldís
population, studies have shown marijuana is effective at inhibiting the
system that causes migraine pain and therefore offers relief.
Overview of Migraines
A migraine is a type of headache that is characterized by pulsing or
throbbing in an isolated area of the head.
The pain can be so intense that it causes nausea, vomiting and sensitivity
to light and sound.
The International Headache Society distinguishes a migraine by the intensity
of its pain and the frequency of attacks (at least five, lasting 4 to 72
hours if untreated).
Itís not uncommon for those who suffer from migraines to first experience
auras, which can include visual disturbances like flashes of light, the
seeing of zig-zag lines, and vision loss. Migraines generally begin during
childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood, with women suffering from
migraines three times more often than men.
While the pathophysiology of migraines is still not fully understood,
research suggests theyíre the result of fundamental neurological
abnormalities caused by genetic mutations in the brain.
This fluctuation in neuronal activity likely activates the trigeminovascular
system, which includes both the nerve and vascular system in the meninges,
and the associated inflammatory response causes pain.
Genetics are also likely involved in the cause of migraines.
Migraines are currently incurable and therefore the treatment focus is on
preventing the attacks and relieving the symptoms once the attacks occur.
The efforts to prevent migraines can include medications, stress management,
exercise and nutritional adjustments, hydrating adequately, establishing
consistent sleep schedules, and avoiding known behaviors that trigger
attacks. Once a migraine hits, focus turns to the administration of pain
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Migraines
Cannabis has been used to treat migraines for centuries. Between the years
of 1874 and 1942, it was among the most prominent remedy used by physicians[6,10].
Research suggests that cannabisí effectiveness for migraine relief can be
attributed to the cannabinoids contained in cannabis, including cannabidiol
(CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC activate the CB1 and CB2
receptors of the bodyís endocannabinoid system, which in turn inhibits
responses of the trigeminovascular system and restricts the inflammation
that causes migraine pain[1,2,4].
A January 2016 study found medical marijuana to be effective at decreasing
the frequency of migraine headaches. In a first-of-its-kind study, because
of previous federal regulations, the researchers found that 103 of 121 of
participants diagnosed with migraines saw a decrease in migraine frequency.
The average migraine frequency reduced from 10.4 a month to 4.6 per month.
Further, studies suggest that cannabis is effective at providing analgesia
effects caused by chronic neuropathic pain conditions that are otherwise
resistant to other pain relief treatments.
The findings of one study even suggest that a dysfunction of the
endocannabinoid system may contribute to the development of migraines.
Researchers then came to a conclusion that the activation of the CB1 and CB2
receptors would correct this dysfunction and be useful in treating migraine
Because of the effectiveness of cannabinoids on migraines, there continues
to be prominent marijuana use by migraine patients outside of physician
recommendations and in locations where medical cannabis use continues to be
In 2015, the Brazilian government, otherwise known for having strict
legislation against cannabis, announced
it would allow for legal importation of Real Scientific Hemp OilTM,
a CBD hemp oil product from HempMeds
for the treatment of epilepsy, Parkinsonís
disease, and chronic pain, which includes migraine headaches.
Through Brazilís medical marijuana program, 100 percent of costs associated
with RSHOTM hemp
oil products are covered by the Brazilian government.
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Migraines
Currently just California and Illinois have
specifically approved medical marijuana for the treatment of migraines.
However, other states allow medical marijuana to treat nausea or chronic
pain. These states include: Alaska (nausea,
chronic pain), Arizona (nausea,
chronic pain), Arkansas (nausea,
intractable pain) Colorado (nausea,
chronic pain), Delaware (nausea,
chronic pain), Hawaii (nausea,
chronic pain), Maine (nausea,
chronic pain), Maryland (nausea,
chronic pain), Michigan (nausea,
chronic pain), Minnesota (intractable
pain), Montana (severe
nausea, severe pain), Nevada (severe
nausea, pain), New
severe pain), New
Mexico (chronic pain), North
Dakota (nausea, severe pain), Ohio (chronic
pain, severe pain, intractable pain), Oregon (nausea,
chronic pain), Pennsylvania (chronic
pain, intractable pain), Rhode
chronic pain), Vermont (severe
pain, severe nausea), and Washington (nausea,
In addition, other states allow medical marijuana for the treatment of
migraines, but use must be first approved and accommodated with a
recommendation by a physician. These states include: Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection)
and Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patientís physician. In Washington
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Recent Studies on Cannabisí effect on Migraines
Medical marijuana reduced frequency of migraines in 103 of 121
Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult
A review of studies examining cannabisí effect on migraine pain suggests
that marijuana can play a therapeutic role in the treatment of
Comprehensive Review of Medicinal Marijuana, Cannabinoids, and
Therapeutic Implications in Medicine and Headache: What a Long Strange
Trip Itís Been.
Marijuana-like medicine caused rats with experimentally-induced
migraines to experience less pain than rats that didnít receive
Activation of CB2 receptors as a potential therapeutic target for
migraine: evaluation in an animal model.
1. Akerman, S., Holland, P.R., Lasalandra, M.P. and Goadsby, P.J. (2013,
September). Endocannabinoids in the brainstem modulate dural
trigeminovascular nociceptive traffic via CB1 and ďtriptanĒ receptors:
implications in migraine. Journal
of Neuroscience, 33(37), 14869-77.
2. Baron, E.P. (2015, June). Comprehensive Review of Medicinal Marijuana,
Cannabinoids, and Therapeutic Implications in Medicine and Headache: What a
Long Strange Trip Itís Been. Headache,
3. Boychuk, D.G., Goddard, G., Mauro, G. and Orellana, M.F. (2015, Winter).
The effectiveness of cannabinoids in the management of chronic nonmalignant
neuropathic pain: a systematic review. Journal
of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache, 29(1), 7-14.
4. Greco, R., Mangione, A.S., Sandrini, G., Nappi, G. and Tassorelli, C.
(2014, March). Activation of CB2 receptors as a potential therapeutic target
for migraine: evaluation in an animal model. The
Journal of Headache and Pain, 15, 14.
5. Greco, R., Mangione, A.S., Sandrini, G., Maccarrone, M., Nappi, G. and
Tassorelli, C. (2011). Effects of anandamide in migraine: data from an
animal model. The
Journal of Headache and Pain, 12(2), 177-83.
6. McGeeney, B.E. (2013). Cannabinoids and hallucinogens for headache.
Headache, 53(3), 447-58.
7. Migraine (2013, June 4). Mayo
Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/basics/definition/con-20026358.
8. NINDS Migraine Information Page. (n.d.) National
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/migraine/migraine.htm.
9. Rhyne, D.N., Anderson, S.L., Gedde, M., and Borgelt, L.M. (2016, January
9). Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult
doi: 10.1002/phar.1673. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26749285.
10. Russo, E.B. (2008, February). Cannabinoids in the management of
difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics
and Clinical Risk Management, 4(1), 245-259.
11. Russo, E.B. (1998). Cannabis for migraine treatment: the once and future
prescription? An historical and scientific review. Pain,
12. Russo, E.B. (2001). Hemp for Headache: An In-Depth Historical and
Scientific Review of Cannabis in Migraine Treatment. Journal
of Cannabis Therapeutics, 1(2), Retrieved from
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