Monday, July 25, 2011

Marijuana as a Treatment for Headache Disorders

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A fair number of people who live with migraine disease and other headache disorders swear by the use of marijuana as a preventive and treatment. Though it's only legal as a medical treatment in a few US states, some people feel it is helpful enough to risk purchasing it illegally. But does it really help? If so, how?

Very few studies have been done on the use of marijuana for treatment of headache disorders. However, researchers speculate marijuana may help some migraine sufferers by targeting areas of the brain thought to be involved in the development of migraine attacks. In one anonymous survey approximately 72% of migraine patients using marijuana reported they were very satisfied with its therapeutic benefits. However, about 30% of patients experienced moderate to severe side effects.

A research study published in a 2009 edition of the medical journal Headache observed the effect of marijuana on the attacks of a patient with cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are defined by the International Headache Society ICHD-II classification as a primary headache disorder characterized by severe, one-sided pain occurring once every other day up to as many as eight or more times a day. The patient had failed multiple preventive and treatment medications, but achieved relief through recreational marijuana use. When tested on a medication called dronabinal (synthesized THC available by prescription) he achieved similar results.

The modern popular view of marijuana is as a purely recreational drug, and it is currently legally classified as having no therapeutic benefit under federal law. However, it has been used therapeutically for more then 2,000 years, and we know enough from patient experiences to warrant a great deal more research into potential uses for patients suffering with various forms of pain, nausea and other symptoms.

Do you live in a state that legally allows medicinal use of marijuana? Have you tried it? Does it help you? Would you try it if you were legally allowed to do so?

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.