Migraines are one of the most common complaints from pain patients. In fact, according to Statistics Canada it is estimated that approximately 14% of the world’s population will suffer from migraines at some point in their life. In 2011 it was estimated that 8.3% of Canadians were diagnosed with migraines. That works out to approximately 2.7 million Canadians suffering from migraines in that year alone.

Migraines can be debilitating. They can come on without warning and in some cases, migraines can last for days at a time. Common symptoms of a migraine are severe head pain, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, light sensitivity, sensitivity to loud noises, and an inability to focus or concentrate.

Many migraine sufferers rely on over the counter medications to help ease the symptoms and allow them to function again. While over the counter medications may work for some, others require prescription medications that are specifically designed to treat a sudden migraine.

While medications for migraine headaches are readily available, the do not always provide complete relief from the symptoms of a migraine. Many people unfortunately are left to ride out the symptoms of the migraine with rest and time.

Research that has been provided over the years suggests that medicinal cannabis may help to calm the symptoms of a migraine. Some studies have suggested that when used at the appropriate time, medicinal cannabis may even work to prevent the migraine from occurring altogether.

There is a specific network of receptors located in the brain that are sensitive to the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis. These cannabinoids interact with the receptors within the brain and ultimately change the way the receptors function and as a result, they are able to have an effect on pain and can ease the symptoms associated with a migraine.

A study conducted in Colorado and published in 2016 took a closer look into the effects of cannabis on migraine sufferers. In the study, 121 participants who had migraines as their primary diagnosis were offered medicinal cannabis to treat their migraines. The participants were offered this treatment between 2010 and 2014. The study found that the frequency of migraines had dropped for the majority of patients who had been using medicinal cannabis daily to treat or prevent their migraines. 11% of participants noted negative side effects from using medicinal cannabis, the most common being sleepiness or drowsiness.

Everyday more comprehensive studies are being done around the globe on the effects and the potential medical benefits of cannabis on migraine symptoms. While the recent studies have shown positive effects, more studies are needed to get a full comprehensive idea of the potential risks and benefits of medicinal cannabis for migraine sufferers.

Talk to your primary care physician if you feel that medicinal cannabis may benefit your condition. Medicinal cannabis is not suited for everyone. Speak with your doctor before starting any new medications.