How Medical Marijuana Works For Headaches | cannabisMD

Why Medical Marijuana Treats Your Headache Symptom

Why medical cannabis can treat the symptoms of a headache

Got a headache? You’re not the only one. Only at least 17% of the U.S. population did not suffer from a headache in the last 12 months. It’s an age-old condition that causes many a missed school or work day.

Of all the adults who have had a headache, 53% found relief from conventional medicine. Still, it’s not the best way to relieve a headache symptom.

The best treatment occurs naturally. But the masses are only just experiencing it because it’s been illegal for so long.

What is it? It’s none other than marijuana, which scientists have proven repeatedly to relieve pain. You may have heard of its use against cancer. However, it can also treat non-threatening conditions such as headaches.

Overview of Headaches

More than 9 in 10 adults will experience a headache at least once in their lives. Most of them will have headaches that come and go. But some will have chronic headaches, which come daily and last for months.

Tension headaches are the most common type among children and adults. That’s just one of the 150 types! Others include caffeine, hormone, overexertion, overdosing, and head injuries.

Headaches bring with them other symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Sensitivity to noise or light

They’re typical and don’t warrant a doctor visit. However, we do recommend you visit your doctor if you have your headache symptom includes:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Trouble with speech
  • Weakness or loss of balance
  • Changes in vision

You should also definitely go to the doctor if you experience headaches after a blow to the head.

Headaches can trigger more serious conditions too, such as a stroke or epileptic seizure. Those who suffer from these conditions also risk developing anxiety or depression. Any changes in the pattern of attacks are also a cause of worry.

Physicians prescribe pain relievers and triptans as headache symptom treatments. It also helps to learn individual headache triggers. Stress management and relaxation techniques can also help keep the head pain at bay.

However, the most effective natural remedy against headaches may be marijuana.

Why Marijuana is Effective Against Headache

The chemical compound in marijuana responsible for the “high” is the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It activates through our endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system spans our entire body and regulates a number of functions. It plays a huge role in maintaining the balance within our body.

The ECS produces cannabinoids that bind to its receptors. After activation, the ECS modulates healing, the sleep-wake cycle, and brain communications.

Cannabinoids from outside sources include THC and CBD. They help the ECS relieve pain and inflammation when they bind to the receptors.

THC binding to CB2 inhibits the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines coming from the cells of the immune system. However, CB1 is the receptor with a high affinity for THC. As CB1 is abundant in the central nervous system, their binding causes relaxation and euphoria.

These actions make marijuana an effective headache symptom treatment and general pain reliever. It also treats other symptoms, such as muscle aches and high blood pressure. As the ECS regulate our sleep-wake cycle, THC can also help adjust it to become normal again.

With marijuana’s healing effects, people now use it for more than treating headaches. Patients with herpes, ADHD, IBD, and even cancer find relief or full remission from marijuana.

But as we all know, THC comes with the side effect of being “high.” Scientists are still in the process of altering THC to omit this side effect. But the cannabinoid CBD coming from hemp already has most of THC’s effects without the “high.”

Best Strains for Treating Headache

The two most common species of the cannabis genus are the Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. The third is the Cannabis ruderalis. Breeders sometimes use it for auto-flowering strains.

The strains are either pure indica, pure sativa, or a hybrid of the three. There are almost 800 cannabis strains today. But the most effective ones in battling headache are:

Sweet and Sour Widow

Sweet and Sour Widow is an indica-dominant hybrid with a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC. At that ratio, it’s common to experience a mild high at most. But most who take it will maintain a clear head.

This strain has relaxation plus anti-inflammation effects that suit patients with headaches.

Hawaiian Dream

Hawaiian Dream is a sativa strain with CBD levels almost twice that of THC. People use it for relieving pain, anxiety, and inflammation, making it perfect for headache symptom treatment and general pain relief.

Because it has higher CBD content, you can enjoy its healing effects without a foggy head.


Harlequin is a sativa-dominant strain with a unique 5:2 CBD to THC ratio. Because of this attribute, the strain is effective for people dealing with headaches.

It has calming and relaxation effects. Still, those who take it can stay alert without experiencing a psychoactive high.

Sour Tsunami

Sour Tsunami is a sativa-dominant hybrid with a high concentration of CBD at about 10-11%. Its THC content is about 10% or lower.

This strain’s main use is for medicinal applications. Many use this strain to relieve pain and inflammation from headaches and migraines. However, at a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC, it may have mild psychoactive side effects.


ACDC is a sativa-dominant strain with CBD levels as high as 19%. Its THC content is at 0.42-1.2%, resulting in a 20:1 ratio of CBD to THC, ideal for treating pain, anxiety, and epilepsy.

This strain has no psychoactive effects on the brain whatsoever.

How to Take Marijuana for Headache Treatment

Patients can consume cannabis for headache symptom relief one of three ways:

  • Oral
  • Inhalation
  • Topical

Many take marijuana orally. You can choose from THC or CBD-infused edibles, tinctures, beverages, and ingestible oils.

Topicals are any product you can apply directly to your skin. To treat your headache, apply it to the area where you experience pain. It works because it relaxes the tissue and improves the circulation in the area.

Many prefer to use a topical product because it doesn’t break the blood-brain barrier. Hence, it has no psychoactive effects.

However, inhalation remains the most effective headache symptom treatment. Inhalation techniques relieve pain from migraines almost immediately, according to studies. Patients can smoke, vape, or dab to inhale marijuana.

Marijuana vs Prescription Medication

Prescription medication seems effective for headache symptom treatment. Why take marijuana at all?

Simple – cannabis doesn’t have undesirable side effects. The only side effect may be getting high, but you can simply choose the strain that doesn’t have this effect and avoid it.

OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin may have minimal side effects. However, prolonged usage can lead to ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. They’re also not that effective at relieving pain from severe migraines.

Triptans, which constrict blood vessels, may cause nausea, dry mouth, hot flashes, and chest pain. And while they may treat your migraine, they may cause other headaches.

Cannabis is natural and it’s nearly impossible to overdose on it. It treats your headache and its symptoms without causing more harm.

Furthermore, a recent study confirmed that the right dosage of THC-CBD is better at providing pain relief. It’s also better at reducing migraines. The research proves marijuana poses fewer risks.

Legality of Marijuana in the U.S.A.

Cannabis is legal for medical use in 29 states plus Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Seventeen other states have laws on cannabis that limit the THC content.

You’ll likely need a doctor’s prescription to get access to medical marijuana, easy if you have severe or chronic headaches. But obtaining strains to treat occasional headaches is harder.

Only 9 states and Washington, DC allow the recreational use of marijuana, meaning you won’t need a doctor’s note to buy cannabis products as long as you’re over 21.

Cannabis Treats More Than Just a Headache Symptom

Because of its pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties, cannabis has medical uses beyond headache symptom treatment. Through trial and error, people have found it effective for treating a variety of mental problems and diseases.

Editorial Staff

At cannabisMD we aim to provide you with all the information and knowledge you need to take the next step in your personal cannabis journey!

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