Can Cannabis Help with Headache Pain?

Can Cannabis Help with Headache Pain?


Pain consistently ranks at the top of the list of conditions people cite for using medical cannabis. It is on the state list of qualifying conditions in Utah, according to The state recently approved medical cannabis for cute pain to the list as well. So what kinds of pain can cannabis treat? Can it help with headache pain?

Limited studies suggest that cannabis is an effective treatment for neuropathic pain. There is also some evidence that it is effective to treat cancer pain. As for headaches, the evidence is not as compelling. Nonetheless, it is out there.

An article published by The Fresh Toast lists a number of studies indicating headache relief from cannabis. One of the cited studies specifically mentions migraine relief. That makes sense. Migraine is not just a headache. It is an underlying condition that manifests itself in headache pain, along with other symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light.

Numerous Potential Mechanisms

Because we lack large-scale clinical studies, it is hard to say exactly how cannabis might relieve headache pain – if it does at all. But there are several potential mechanisms that line up with what we already know about cannabis. The first is its ability to influence pain receptors.

The human endocannabinoid system regulates a lot of bodily functions. It is involved in regulating pain perception. So it’s entirely possible that cannabis modifies pain perception by binding to certain cannabinoid receptors to block pain signals.

Other potential mechanisms include:

  • Reducing Inflammation

Limited evidence points to cannabis’ ability to reduce inflammation. Such an ability probably would not have any effect on migraine, but it could help alleviate other types of headaches for which inflammation is a contributing factor.

  • Reducing Anxiety

We do know that cannabis helps relieve anxiety in some people. That would indicate it could help relieve headache pain related to tension headaches, cluster headaches, and perhaps even migraine.
  • Pain Masking

It is not unheard of for medical cannabis patients to say the drug doesn’t eliminate their pain. Rather, it takes the edge off. This could be explained by THC’s pain-masking abilities. When you are intoxicated, pain doesn’t seem so severe.

There may be other mechanisms medical science hasn’t thought of yet. The bottom line is that we don’t truly know how cannabis relieves pain. It goes back to the same old problem of not having enough research to provide the answers.

It Never Hurts to Ask

Chronic headache sufferers can find themselves living in a virtual hell. Some types of headaches are so painful as to be completely debilitating. So what’s a patient to do? In states where medical cannabis is legal, it never hurts to ask your doctor about the possibility of taking it.

Using Utah as an example, patients who believe they qualify for medical cannabis due to chronic or acute pain need to see a qualified medical provider or any doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or podiatrist with prescribing authority. Any one of them can recommend cannabis to treat chronic pain.

A medical provider’s recommendation would allow the patient to obtain a medical cannabis card. Possessing a valid card entitles the patient to visit any state licensed medical cannabis pharmacy to purchase medical products.

The various states have different rules controlling how medical cannabis is dispensed. The important thing to know is that cannabis may help relieve your headache pain. If using it is legally allowed in your state, it is at least worth checking out. The worst thing that could happen is that you try it and discover it doesn’t work. You have lost nothing but a few dollars and a little bit of time.