Headache Prevention with Cannabis
Whether it is recurrent migraine headaches or tension headaches, medical cannabis can be a powerful tool to help with both headache prevention and headache relief. The trick is having multiple tools in your toolbox for varying symptoms.
All headaches are different in character and onset, and the triggers causing the headaches can range from hormones, dehydration, food sensitivities, neck and shoulder pain, to unknown genetic factors. Often recurrent headache sufferers wake with an aggravation or the feeling of a headache coming on. A great preventative option is to take a low-dose edible, preferably made with an Indica strain, nightly at bedtime or an hour before bedtime. Start with a dose of 5mg. An edible will take 30-90 minutes to take effect, but the desired effect will last for 6-8 hours. The reason this can be an effective prevention for headaches is because of the vasodilation and relaxation that occurs during the therapeutic window of the edible. Many headaches, especially tension headaches, are caused by vasoconstriction of the vessels in the brain. By providing the body, especially the vessels in the brain, with 6-8 hours of relaxed dilation a reduction in the number of headaches may occur over time. Patients I have seen benefit the most from this strategy are those that wake from sleep with headaches or have an onset of headache pain that happens earlier in the day.
Not all headaches are caused by vasoconstriction, and in some cases vasodilation may worsen an active migraine. It is important to remember cannabis is a botanical medicine that reacts differently from individual to individual. For migraine sufferers, the conventional medicine approach to migraine prevention are medications like Sumatriptan that require a daily dose even when a migraine may occur just a few times a month. I hear from many patients how frustrating it is to take a toxic medication everyday when they only have headaches sporadically. If you are looking for a natural option that may reduce the frequency of your headaches, this prevention protocol is worth a try. The only side effect you may experience with a low dose (5mg) edible at night is improved sleep!