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Headaches are something that we all have to put up with from time to time. To experience a headache is certainly nothing out of the ordinary. They can strike at any time and are a huge inconvenience when they do. Most of us are fortunate enough to only suffer from headaches every now and again. There are lots of people, however, who suffer from chronic headaches. For them, headaches are a regular part of life and managing their pain can seem like an endless struggle.
The World Health Organization estimates that over half of all adults globally suffer from a headache disorder. This makes headache disorders one of the most common conditions there is today.
There are many different types of headaches too. In fact there are approximately 200 different types! The sheer number of varieties can make diagnosis a long and arduous process. Some are much more serious than others. They can be debilitating conditions for those living with them. For these people, regular over the counter pain medications are rarely strong enough to dull the pain. It’s no surprise then that people are looking to medical cannabis for a more effective alternative.
Unfortunately, there has been little research into the uses of medical cannabis. The legality issues and the persistent suspicion and distrust of the drug have hampered efforts to understand it better. Thankfully, things are moving forward, however slowly it may seem. While nobody can categorically claim without doubt that medical cannabis is a great treatment for headaches, there is no arguing with the evidence that suggests it could be.
Some sources estimate the number of headache types rests at 200, while others claim that there are 150 different types. Either way, it’s probably a much bigger number than you suspected. The different types are categorized into two groups; primary and secondary.
Primary headaches are headaches which aren’t caused by an underlying condition. They themselves are the condition. Secondary headaches are headaches which are caused by something else. They can be caused by head trauma, diseases, or a whole range of otherwise invisible problems.
While the number of different kinds of headaches is enormous, most people who suffer from headache disorders will suffer from the following five types; Migraines, cluster headaches, tension type headaches, sinus headaches and hormone headaches. So let’s learn a little more about each of these common types of headache disorder.
Migraines are one of the most common headache types. Migraines can last hours or days. There are 7 different types of migraines. Migraines can cause nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, numbness and tingling in the body, aura, extremely mood swings, binge eating or a total loss of appetite, an intense throbbing pain near the temples or on one or both sides of the head.
Cluster headaches are not as common as migraines. A cluster headache attack involves frequent, short bursts of excruciating pain. The pain is localized to the area behind one eye, although the pain can radiate to other areas. This eye will usually become very red, sore, puffy and teary. The corresponding nostril can also become swollen and runny.
Also known as tension type headaches or stress headaches, the pain associated with this headache is often compared to the feeling of a clamp squeezing the skull. These are the most common head pain experienced and can be either episodic (less than 15 times per month) or chronic (more often that 15 times).
Sinus headaches are a very common condition. The symptoms are very watery and puffy eyes, a runny nose, pain that’s focused around the face and forehead and a persistent cough. These symptoms are also very common for migraines, so many people assume they have a sinus headache when actually they are suffering from a migraine. These headaches are usually caused by a sinus infection.
You may have guessed that hormone headaches are associated with the periodic hormonal shifts experienced by women. These shifts occur throughout puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. The changes in hormone levels bring on these headaches which can cause terrible pain and discomfort.
As you can see, the varieties of headache are extensive. However some of the symptoms can overlap significantly, so it’s not always easy to figure out which type of headache you have. Without a proper diagnosis you’ll find it very difficult to treat your condition effectively. Keeping a record of your symptoms on your smartphone is a great way to log what you notice when a headache comes on. A journal such as this can highlight patterns emerging overtime and really improve your chances of a successful diagnosis.
The medication for headaches that are currently available are often of very little effect. These generic pain medications might take the edge off your pain, but are unlikely to offer you real relief. In addition to their ineffectiveness, many contain harsh and harmful chemicals which lots of people don’t want to be pumping into their bodies on a regular basis. This is especially relevant if you suffer from a chronic headache condition. You’ve got to consider not only what pain relievers will be most effective, but also which will do minimal harm to your body in the process.
This is why thousands of people have turned to natural remedies, like medical cannabis. Medical cannabis has grown in popularity. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a sensation online. As you can expect, this in turn has led to the creation and distribution of an awful lot of misinformation. You can find countless videos online fo people claiming that medical marijuana solved every problem they’ve ever had, but there’s little or no scientific evidence to back any of those claims up.
Don’t get me wrong, the very limited understanding we do have about medical cannabis is absolutely encouraging. The plant shows a huge amount of promise in the treatment of some of the most heinous diseases there is, including multiple sclerosis, alzheimer’s disease, parkinson’s disease and autism. But it’s important to not get ahead of ourselves just yet. The illegality of cannabis in many states has made it very difficult for researchers to study to date. The studies which have been conducted haven’t met the usual standards required for medical research. It would be irresponsible to draw any hard and fast conclusion from them, expect to say that things look very promising indeed, so far.
Particularly promising is CBD, one of over 100 compounds found in medical cannabis. These compounds are known as cannabinoids, and CBD is the one which has attracted most interest from researchers to date. CBD contains all of the healing properties believed to be found in medical cannabis, without creating the one which causes the ‘high’ effect that so many people want to avoid. This is why it’s seen as such an ideal option for medical use.
There are a number of reasons why CBD could be used to treat headache disorders in particular. The first is its ability to relieve pain. For centuries, cannabis has been used for this purpose. The anecdotal evidence that suggests it is a safe, yet powerful treatment for chronic pain is staggering. And thankfully there is some science to back it up.
Scientists recently discovered something new in the human body; the endocannabinoid system. This is a system is comprised of receptors scattered throughout the body. The system is believed to be heavily linked with our immune systems and nervous systems. In particular, the endocannabinoid system is thought to have a lot of influence over our skin, our moods, and how we feel pain.
Without going into the science of it all, researcher believe that CBD boosts our endocannabinoid systems much like any other supplement works. This has an effect on the receptors that are scattered throughout the body, and reduces the amount of pain we feel.
The second reason is based on the potential of CBD to act as a potent mood stabilizer. This means that it can minimise irritability, anger, sadness, frustration, and other extreme moods. This is great news for people suffering with migraine and hormonal headaches in particular, as extreme moods are a common symptom for them. These moods can have a big impact on their working lives, their relationships, their family and social lives. The moods themselves can be utterly exhausting and draining for the patients. So, the prospect of balancing them as well as reducing pain is a very exciting one.
It’s really not hard to see why so many people are getting their hopes up about using medical cannabis as a treatment for headaches, is it? Chronic headache disorders can be such a debilitating condition. Patients are often left feeling utterly hopeless as a result of there being no actual cure or effective pain medication. The idea of having to struggle on with the condition for the rest of their lives can be devastating for many. So why wouldn’t they be thrilled to hear all of the hype online about how medical cannabis can ensure they never have another headache again?
Unfortunately, it’s vital that people read or watch everything they see online with a critical eye. Remember that nothing is conclusively proven. There are no hard and fast truths about medical cannabis just yet, and while many people have already begun using it to no ill effects, that is a risk. Cannabis remains illegal in many states across the US, and most of The Western World. So, the quality of illegally sold cannabis will not be good and could easily do more harm than good.
Our advice to anyone who’s desperately hunting for a safe and effective treatment for their headache? Do your research, and then do more. Always talk to your doctor before considering using any treatment that he or she hasn’t prescribed. And don’t break the law.