I Eliminated My Migraines With Medical Cannabis
Migraines Are Serious Business
Approximately 30 million Americans suffer from some type of migraine headaches. Over 2-3 million are chronic sufferers. Migraines can be very debilitating and impact the way you live if they occur frequently or on some type of a regular basis. Migraines are common, but affect more women than men. 3x’s more. These headaches can leave you exhausted and frail, lasting days at a time. One of the biggest things to remember with migraines is that many times the associated symptoms can be even more debilitating and impairing than the migraine pain itself.
You may be looking into many alternatives for treatment. Especially when you’ve already taken the beta-blockers, pain pills, triptans, anti-seizure medications, NSAIDS, migraine injections, and still cannot find relief.
There are many types of migraines, and so many triggers for them to flare up. The most common is the “no aura” Common migraine. Basilar, ocular/retinal, menstrual, hemiplegic, abdominal, vestibular, and chronic migraines are some additional most common types that many sufferers deal with on a reoccurring basis. Each type has its own batch of commonly associated symptoms.
I personally suffered from a vestibular type of menstrual migraine. The headaches began about 20 years ago, before I had my children. They continued to occur for years, every month, and often I would get “bonus” migraine that would be a bit off of schedule and unexpectedly take me down for a few days as well. Usually 2-4 days. About 60% of women who suffer from migraines report headaches during their menstrual cycle. Even if other migraines were reported at different times of the month, they reported more severe symptoms during the hormonal fluctuations during their periods.
One of my biggest weapons in controlling my migraine headaches was to keep a calendar. This lets you have a better idea of what you’re up against. Note when onset symptoms are coming on, headache duration, and location. Note what you may have or haven’t eaten, drank, or done physically prior to your headache. Once you keep a calendar for a few months, you will see if there is any pattern or relationship to when and how your migraines occur, and how you might be able to plan in advance to prevent them.
But not by taking a naproxen preventative for five days through your cycle like my doctor initially recommended. All of the meds I was prescribed over the years and tried for relief of my debilitating migraines didn’t work. The downside is that many of these meds came with a bucket full of side effects. The next appointment my obgyn recommended cannabis edibles prior to my migraines if at all possible. She told me that many women were reporting having success treating, and even eliminating their menstrual migraines all together. I live in Michigan, where you can legally obtain, possess, and use medical cannabis if you’re a card holder, or are 21 or older. (I use legally very loosely, as there are many innocent people still going to jail for this miraculous plant.) She wished me luck and gave me an Imitrex injection refill just in case I needed it.
Being a medical cannabis cardholder, I went to a provisioning center and found some cannabutter. I chose to prepare my own edibles that were still tasty, but not as sweet as many of the edible products for sale on the market now. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the milligram dosage was. This was when medical cannabis first began in the state of Michigan. There weren’t testing facilities available for me to test my goods. I just knew that migraines were taking control of my life. I had exhausted all of the common and not so common treatments for various types of migraines, and this was an option that I was really hoping would work for me. I did a bit of research on the topic and found out about the endocannabinoid system. The why and how’s to why women were having success treating their migraines. Being in the dental/medical field for years, it made perfect sense to me. I would tackle my migraines by ingesting cannabis.
I had already been keeping a calendar of symptoms and migraines for years. So, the next month I began treating myself with cannabis in hopes of preventing, or at least making the symptoms of the headache less horrific. The first month was a bit of a guessing game. My obgyn and I figured a few days prior to my regular migraines I would ingest an edible just before bedtime, each night. I started before bedtime because my migraines would usually wake me up with the onset nausea, vomiting, and pain in the middle of the night. And, just in case the cannabis edible hit me a bit harder than anticipated. Always start small. Smaller than recommend initially. Everyone is different and tolerance levels vary greatly. Better to work your way up in increments until a tolerance is developed. I did great and slept very well. The first month of treatment gave me relief from the vomiting and the blacking out.
Impressed, I decided to start 4 days prior the next month and ate a bigger portion of the edible than the month prior as well. Boy, did I wake up with the worst case of cotton mouth! It felt like my mouth was glued shut. Hahaha. But I didn’t have any nausea. No pre-migraine lights, or sensitivities. Most importantly, no migraine. Unbelievable. I do recommend a nice glass of water at your bedside. That will help take care of any dry cotton mouth you may need to deal with from your edible. A small price to pay. I did get a small “regular” headache for a couple of hours, but that too, went away. Yay! Now I was super excited and ready to never deal with migraines again. But I knew it could be a complete coincidence. Up until now, nothing had even helped my symptoms. My family and I were prepared for the worst. I was ready to get knocked off of my feet at any time.
The third month of treatment was the most amazing month I had experienced in years. I ate about the same amount of edibles at this point, and had also started obtaining pre-made edibles from newly found provisioning centers as well. My sleepy headed feeling that I had initially experienced was gone, and so was my migraine! I did not wake up in the night to vomiting, sweats, or intense pain. It was surreal. I was hopeful, but also expected a migraine to come out of no where and take me out. The next morning I remember making the note on my calendar NO MIGRAINE! I made it through an entire “migraine weekend” without getting my normal migraine. I was more than excited with my results, and was looking forward to giving my obgyn the great news. In 3 months time I reduced, and then completely prevented my migraines by digesting cannabis edibles. I continued on this path for some time. After a couple of migraine free years, I decided to reduce my edible dosage to eating them 2 days prior to when my normal headaches and cycle would be. I remained migraine free.
There is nothing sweeter than when your doctor office calls to ask how you have been because you haven’t been in or used your prescriptions recently. I responded that I was doing very well, and was using cannabis infused foods to prevent my migraines. I was migraine free. Me, who had suffered for over a decade of migraines. Missing out on weddings, graduations, funerals, showers, parties, school functions, work, you name it. I had suffered in a curled up ball of agony for years. Blackouts, cyclonic vomiting, rashes, blinking lights…. All under control by realizing we as humans, have endocannabinoid systems (ECS). Simply by eating foods infused with cannabis. I personally needed cannabinoids. Cannabis was working for me and still does today.
I prefer to infuse things like garlic bread, french toast, or yummy pumpkin bread in the comfort of my own home. I recommend making and using your own canna butter whenever possible. These days infused edibles are available in many locations if you’re in a medical or recreational state, making it simple to get lab tested edibles in a variety of strains, milligrams, and types. There are also many different products and ways to medicate now, making it easier to find the right fit for your specific treatment and individual needs. Like cannabis oil capsules, and tinctures. Try different medicinals of your preference and note what works best for you.
There have been a few times over the years when I either forgot about eating edibles or oil capsules, was in a non-medical state, or just didn’t have the product/donation at the time to eat my dosage. The first time I forgot, I did get a bit of a headache. But not my normal migraine. Other times I had a full blown reoccurrence. I realized that it was really not worth the chance to be irresponsible. I have tried my best to ingest some shape or form of cannabis every month to this day. I am now years out from having migraines on a regular basis.
Always pay attention to your triggers. Try to avoid controllable triggers at all times. It could be anything, but many popular triggers include: stress, poor diet, caffeine, scents, bright lights, lack of sleep, weather changes, anxiety, etc. Everyone is different and there are many different types of migraines as I stated earlier. It’s important to get your sleep and eat well to have a fighting chance to control these debilitating headaches.
I do believe that all of us need cannabinoids, some of us more than others. Especially sufferers of auto-immune diseases, fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Cannabis is a known anti-inflammatory and neuroprotectant, so it makes complete sense that ingesting it prior to headaches could lessen or eliminate the symptoms of a migraine attack. I will say that personally, I could not smoke cannabis during a migraine. I did try once, and I ended up vomiting. Migraines can have that effect on a person. So consider yourself forewarned. I would stick to ingesting cannabis when it comes to migraine treatment or prevention.
Cannabis works for me, and so many others across the country. I can’t promise it will work for your migraines and associated symptoms, but if you’ve been dealing with them, I would definitely give it a try if possible. Believe me, the side effects of cannabis medicinals are nothing like the side effects associated with the common migraine drugs like Topamax, Imitrex, or Toradol. Which can reduce the frequency initially in some cases, but not usually eliminate the migraines. In addition to not being long lasting symptoms, the associated side effects from cannabis medicinals are far more healthy. Like helping with my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, lowering my blood pressure, and letting me achieve a good nights sleep.
Before cannabis, my doctors were sure that I was having TIA’s, or transient ischemic attacks. I had sleep studies, med changes, and second opinions. I was starting to think of the worst, and even began to worry about having a stroke at my young age. I had to have windows covered, lights off, no sound, no contact, a bucket by my bed…..or just sleep on the bathroom floor at the toilet. Misery. I couldn’t be more thankful for cannabis. It literally gave me life back. I hope it can help you too.
Good Things To Remember
Many new patients tell me that they don’t want the “high” feeling. In my personal experience, the “medicine head” feeling, sleepiness, or “high” was a very short lived side effect. Just like any other new medications, you would want to be in the privacy of your own home to see how it may affect you personally. Don’t eat an infused product before driving, going to work, or anything else you may need to be alert and aware for until you know how they can effect you. Always medicate safely and responsibly.
Patients often message me saying they didn’t “feel anything” after a half an hour went by, so they ate more of their infused edible. Now they’re either passing out or freaking out. Oops! This can result in rapid sleep onset, various symptoms of getting wasted, nausea, and even feeling like you’re tripping right out. Over medicating is no fun. So when you’re told to only eat a small dose or a portion of your edible, LISTEN! I always give this advise and most often patients are impatient and don’t follow my directions. You can always increase your dosage as your body gets acclimated. The result is a positive experience as you medicate instead of having a unpleasant time over medicating, many times resulting in patients getting scared off from utilizing this wonderful, natural medicine.
If you’ve had success treating your migraines with medical cannabis, feel free to share your input. The more we share, the more we learn.
Wishing you good health and wellness in all of your days.
*I live in Michigan, which is a Medical and Recreational Marijuana state. I am a licensed medical marijuana card holder. Please check and follow your states local laws and regulations when it comes to possessing and consuming medical cannabis.