Does Weed Help with Headaches? - Royal Apothecary

phone-ing Weed at Your Fingertips! Experience the Ease of Ordering Cannabis with Our iOS App!

Does Weed Help with Headaches?


This article provides an overview of using cannabis, commonly known as weed or marijuana, for headache and migraine relief. The purpose is to explore the potential benefits, risks, proper usage, and legal considerations around cannabis as a headache treatment option. 

Headaches and migraines can be extremely debilitating and negatively impact quality of life for many people. Finding an effective treatment is crucial, but sometimes over-the-counter medications are not strong enough and prescription options come with side effects. This has led some headache sufferers to turn to cannabis for relief.

The article will cover different types of headaches, how cannabis may help alleviate pain and inflammation, anecdotal reports of effectiveness, and findings from scientific research. Potential risks like side effects and interactions with other medications will also be examined. 

Choosing the right cannabis strain, dosage, and consumption method is key to using it responsibly for headaches. Complementary natural remedies that can be combined with cannabis will also be explored. Finally, legal restrictions, future research directions, and recommendations from medical experts will provide important context.

The goal is to objectively analyze the evidence on cannabis for headaches, so those considering this treatment option can make informed decisions and use it effectively. While cannabis shows promise for some, it also carries risks and is not right for everyone.

Types of Headaches

Headaches come in many forms, with the main types being migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Each has distinct causes and symptoms:


Migraines are moderate to severe headaches that are often pounding or pulsing and affect one side of the head. They can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Other migraine symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, certain foods, hormonal changes and more.

Tension Headaches  

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and cause a constant, dull aching pain on both sides of the head. They may feel like a tight band is being wrapped around the head. Stress, poor posture, and muscle tension often contribute to tension headaches.<

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are excruciating headaches that occur in clusters or cycles, often at the same times of year. The pain is intense, piercing or burning, and located on one side near the eye or temple. Cluster headaches involve restlessness, reddening of the eye, and runny nose on the affected side.

How Cannabis May Alleviate Headache Pain

Cannabis contains active compounds called cannabinoids that may help relieve headache pain through several mechanisms. 

One way cannabis may help is through its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is believed to play a role in some types of headaches like migraines. THC and CBD, two major cannabinoids in cannabis, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body. By reducing inflammation around nerves and blood vessels in the head, cannabis could potentially decrease headache pain and other symptoms.

Additionally, cannabis is known for its pain-relieving qualities. Cannabinoids like THC act on receptors in the brain and body to help reduce sensations of pain. This is why cannabis is often used for conditions involving chronic pain. For those suffering from frequent tension headaches or migraine attacks, cannabis could offer much-needed pain relief by acting directly in the brain.

The exact mechanisms by which cannabis alleviates headache pain are still being researched. But it likely involves a combination of anti-inflammatory effects, pain modulation through the endocannabinoid system, and interaction with serotonin receptors. More studies are needed, but existing research and anecdotal reports suggest cannabis can be an effective option for headache management for some people. Determining the right strains, dosages, and method of consumption may take trial and error. But the potential benefits make cannabis worth consideration for those looking for headache relief.

Anecdotal Evidence vs Scientific Research

Personal Accounts

Many people who suffer from chronic headaches and migraines have reported success using cannabis for pain relief. Personal accounts on online forums and social media groups describe dramatic reductions in headache frequency, severity and duration from incorporating cannabis into their treatment plans. 

Patients report trying various strains and methods of consumption to find what provides optimal relief for them individually. For some, a few puffs of a cannabis vape pen can stop a migraine in its tracks. Others use CBD oils daily to prevent headaches from developing at all. Edibles, tinctures, topicals and more are all cited by migraine patients as effective options.

The most common theme in anecdotal reports is being able to reduce reliance on pharmaceuticals, especially painkillers that can have significant side effects or risk of dependence. Cannabis is viewed as a safer alternative by many. However, personal accounts are not scientifically rigorous evidence. Controlled studies are needed to truly evaluate efficacy.

Scientific Research

Early clinical research on cannabis for headaches shows promising results, but large scale studies are still limited. Small trials have found reductions in migraine frequency after daily use of CBD and THC oils. Analysis of survey data also shows people who use cannabis report fewer migraine episodes than non-users.

However, placebo-controlled trials are considered the gold standard and have not been conducted yet. Researchers call for more rigorous studies to better understand optimal strains, dosing, delivery methods and to confirm cannabis’ effectiveness compared to existing treatments. The limited data makes physicians hesitant to recommend cannabis for headaches presently.

More research is underway, but full legalization would accelerate the progress. Until large randomized controlled trials are completed, the scientific evidence for cannabis’ headache relief potential remains preliminary. Both personal accounts and initial research suggest it may be an effective option, but more work is needed to provide conclusive answers.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Using cannabis to treat headaches does come with some potential risks and side effects to be aware of. Some of the possible adverse effects of cannabis use include:

– Impaired coordination and motor skills

– Difficulty concentrating 

– Short-term memory problems

– Increased heart rate

– Anxiety or paranoia

– Dizziness

– Nausea

– Dry mouth

Additionally, cannabis can interact with other medications used for headache treatment. For example, combining cannabis with sedative medications like benzodiazepines can amplify drowsiness and motor impairment. Using cannabis along with blood thinners or NSAIDs may increase the risk of bruising or bleeding. 

Those with a personal or family history of psychosis or substance abuse disorders may be at higher risk for adverse effects from cannabis. It’s important to use caution with edibles, concentrates, or highly potent strains as they can increase the chances of negative side effects when dosages are not properly managed.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid using cannabis as it may impact infant development. Also, those with heart conditions, low blood pressure, or low blood sugar should use cannabis carefully due to possible cardiovascular effects.  

Overall, cannabis does carry some risks like any medicinal substance. Working closely with a doctor and using proper dosing can help reduce the likelihood of adverse effects. Those considering cannabis for headaches should carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks.

Choosing the Right Strain and Consumption Method

When using cannabis to treat headaches, carefully selecting the proper strain and method of consumption can make a big difference in effectiveness. Here are some key considerations:


Certain cannabis strains may work better than others for headache relief based on their cannabinoid profile. Strains high in CBD tend to be preferred as CBD is known for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Some examples include:

– Harlequin – a sativa-dominant strain with a 5:2 ratio of CBD to THC. Provides clear-headed pain relief.

– ACDC – a high-CBD strain with a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio. May reduce inflammation that contributes to headaches. 

– Cannatonic – a hybrid with a low THC ratio and high CBD content. Known for relaxing muscle spasms and tension.

Indica strains are also commonly used for headaches as they provide full-body relaxation. Strains like Northern Lights and Granddaddy Purple may relieve headache symptoms. 

Sativa strains with some CBD can provide pain relief without heavy sedation. Examples are Sour Tsunami and Pennywise.

Consumption Methods 

How cannabis is consumed can impact its effects. Common options include:

– Smoking/vaping – Provides rapid relief but shorter duration. Allows easy titration of dosage.

– Edibles – Slower onset but longer lasting effects. Dosage is harder to control.

– Oils/tinctures – Are absorbed under the tongue for quick relief. Easy to measure doses.

– Topicals – Applied to temples and forehead for localized relief. Do not cause a high.

The best approach is to start with a low dose of CBD from a trusted source and adjust as needed. Combining methods like oils for quick relief plus edibles for maintenance can be effective. Monitor effects and keep a headache diary to optimize your approach over time.

Complementary Treatments for Headaches

When using cannabis to treat headaches, it’s important to start with low doses. Cannabis is a powerful substance, and consuming too much can lead to unwanted side effects like dizziness, anxiety, or paranoia. It’s best to start with just a few milligrams of THC or CBD and increase slowly over time. 

The appropriate dosage can vary greatly depending on your body chemistry, the particular strain, and method of consumption. Edibles generally have a more potent and long-lasting effect compared to smoking or vaping. When trying cannabis for the first time, it’s wise to start with as little as 2-5mg of THC or CBD and wait at least two hours before increasing your dose. 

Some people are more sensitive to cannabis than others. If you have little experience with marijuana, it’s safest to start very low and increase incrementally. Consuming cannabis with high levels of THC on an empty stomach can increase its effects, so having food in your system can help moderate dosing. 

It’s also important to pay attention to any adverse reactions and avoid consuming more if you experience dizziness, rapid heart rate, or other concerning symptoms. Keep track of the strains and dosages that provide relief so you can replicate the results.

Before using cannabis for headaches, consult your healthcare provider, especially if you take prescription medications. They can help determine appropriate strains and dosages based on your medical history and risk factors. Doctors can also monitor you for potential drug interactions or side effects. Being open and honest about your cannabis use will allow your doctor to give the best recommendations.

Following the “start low, go slow” rule and closely monitoring your response to different cannabis products will help you find the sweet spot for effectively treating headaches without overdoing it. Moderation and patience are key when using cannabis for medical purposes.

Proper Dosage

In addition to cannabis, there are several other natural and alternative remedies that can provide headache relief or be used in conjunction with cannabis therapy. Some of the most popular complementary options include:

– Feverfew – This herb has been used for centuries to treat headaches. It contains compounds that are thought to reduce inflammation and constrict blood vessels. Feverfew is typically taken daily as a preventive measure.

– Butterbur – Derived from a shrub, butterbur contains petasins that block inflammatory pathways involved in migraines. It has been shown in studies to reduce headache frequency. Butterbur supplements should be taken with meals. 

– Magnesium – Magnesium deficiency is linked to headaches and migraines. Supplementing with magnesium daily, particularly magnesium oxide or citrate forms, can help prevent headaches in some people.

– Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) – Riboflavin is essential for energy production in the brain and nerve cells. Taking 400 mg per day has been found effective at preventing migraines.

– Ginger – Ginger root contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. Consuming ginger tea, extracts, or supplements may help alleviate headache symptoms.

– Peppermint oil – Peppermint oil applied topically to the temples and forehead has a cooling effect that can relieve headache pain for some sufferers. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

– Acupuncture – Acupuncture involves placing thin needles into specific points on the body. This traditional Chinese medicine practice may help prevent and treat headaches.

– Massage – Massage therapy, especially on the neck, shoulders, and head, can reduce headache frequency and muscle tension that contributes to headaches.

– Yoga and meditation – These mind-body practices reduce stress, increase relaxation, and enhance pain coping mechanisms for those with chronic headaches.

Legal Considerations

The legality and accessibility of cannabis varies widely depending on where you live. In the United States, the laws regarding cannabis are complex and rapidly changing. At the federal level, cannabis remains illegal as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, many states have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. 

For medical cannabis, 33 states plus Washington D.C. have comprehensive medical marijuana programs. An additional 13 states allow limited access to low-THC/high-CBD products. Only a handful of states still completely prohibit cannabis.

For recreational use, cannabis is legal in 18 states, 2 territories, and DC. Several other states have decriminalized small amounts of cannabis possession. Some cities and counties also have local cannabis laws that differ from their state.

Internationally, countries with legal or partially legal cannabis access include Canada, Uruguay, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Spain, and many more. However, most nations continue an overall prohibition of cannabis. Travelers should research local laws before crossing borders with any cannabis products.

If you’re considering cannabis for headaches, the first step is looking into your local laws. In regions where medical or recreational cannabis is legal, adults can consult with dispensaries and healthcare providers for safe access and dosing guidance. Where cannabis remains illegal, individuals should carefully weigh the legal risks and benefits of potential cannabis use. Laws are rapidly evolving, so staying updated on the legal landscape is crucial.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *