Under-the-Counter Migraine Remedies

       

Migraine headaches can be tough to treat. If your pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light or noise don’t get better with over-the-counter or even prescription drugs, is there another option?

       

Marijuana might be one under-the-counter remedy for migraine relief. Some research shows that it may help ease migraine symptoms or possibly keep them from starting. But most studies haven't found solid proof of that.

       

And in some states, it isn’t legal to buy, grow, own, or use marijuana, even for medical reasons. Make sure you find out about your state’s laws before trying it.

     

How Does Pot Ease Pain?

Marijuana is another name for cannabis, a bushy plant that’s used to make paper, rope, and other products.      

Inside your brain and other parts of your body, you have a network of cannabinoid receptors. These are tiny loops of protein that affect how you feel pain.

Marijuana has natural compounds called cannabinoids. When you use it, these cannabinoids go into your body and look for the receptors. They change how the receptors work, and they can calm down pain signals.     

Cannabinoids may also help with nausea, anxiety, muscle spasms, or other health problems. 

THC is the cannabinoid in marijuana that gets most of the attention. It’s what makes you feel high or relaxed. But another product made from cannabis called cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t make you feel intoxicated and may help ease pain. Several states have made it legal for CBD to be used for medical reasons.

     

Does It Work for Migraines?

There’s not a lot of research on this. In a study at the University of Colorado, 121 people who got regular migraine headaches used marijuana daily to prevent attacks. About 40% of them said the number of migraine headaches they got each month was cut in half.

The people used different types of marijuana, but they mostly inhaled it to ease a migraine in progress and found that it did help stop the pain. Edible products didn’t seem to work as well.

The people who inhaled or smoked marijuana also said it was easier to control the amount of the drug they took in, and they had fewer negative reactions.

     

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What Are the Risks?

If you smoke or eat marijuana, it can make you feel dizzy, weak, confused, sleepy, or moody. And smoking it on a regular basis could harm your heart and lung health over time. Short-term use doesn’t seem to be bad for your general health.

     

Legal Issues

Marijuana is legal for medical use in more than half the states in the U.S. But each state has different laws about how you can buy it or how much you can have. In several states, it’s still illegal to have it even if you have a medical problem that it could treat.

If you have a job, it’s a good idea to know your employer’s rules around drug testing and use, even if it’s legal for medical use in your state. Tests can tell if you have marijuana in your system. And it can stay there up to 30 days after you've used it.

     

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Lawrence C. Newman, MD on August 16, 2017

Sources

   

SOURCES:

   

National Headache Foundation: “Migraine.”

   

Baron, EP. Headache. June 2015.

   

University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health: “Medical Marijuana for the Treatment of Migraine Headaches: An Evidence Review.”

   

National Conference of State Legislatures: “State Medical Marijuana Laws.”

   

Manzanares, J. Current Neuropharmacology. July 2006.

   

Benbadis, S. Expert Reviews of Neurotherapeutics. Published online Nov. 2014.

   

Project CBD.org: “What Is CBD?”

   

Rhyne, D. Pharmacotherapy. Jan. 2016.

   

Americans for Safe Access: “Guide to Using Medical Cannabis.”

   

Degenhardt, L and Hall, WD. Canadian Medical Association Journal. June 2008.

   

National Association of Attorneys General: “The Effects of Marijuana Legalization on Employment Law.”

   

National Institute on Drug Abuse: “The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol.”

   

State of Oregon: “Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana in the Workplace.”

 

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