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Weed: Your New Headache Medicine?

Weed headache medicine
Written by Sarah Friedman

You’ve got a bunch of options you can take when your head flares up, whether its just a minor headache or a full-blown migraine. Now, a new study points to yet another option, which highlights a possibly major use of the cannabis plant. That’s right, it looks like weed might be the new go-to headache treatment to have in your medicine cabinet.

Did you ever consider taking some weed as your headache medicine when the pain flares up? Well, maybe you should! We are a cannabis and psychedelics news platform which specializes in covering the biggest and most important stories of today. We put out the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter to keep readers informed, and to provide access to a host of cool deals on tons of products including vapes, smoking devices, edibles, other cannabis paraphernalia, and cannabinoid compounds like the ever-popular Delta 8 & HHC. Check out our ‘best of’ lists for details, and please purchase the products you feel most comfortable using.

What a headache!

Headaches are one of those incredibly common things that we can all expect to suffer from here or there. For some people it’s a nearly every day occurrence, while others only get a real headache once or twice a year. For some it’s a mind-splittingly painful experience, complete with migraine symptoms, and for some it’s a dull little pain that might qualify as irritating, more than debilitating.

What is a headache? Though this sounds like a simple question, with a simple answer, like, ‘when my head hurts’; the reality is that there are many different things that cause headaches, and different ways to experience them. According to the WHO, approximately half of adults will have at least one standard run-of-the-mill headache within a year.

On the other hand, a ‘headache disorder’ is characterized by the recurrence of headaches, and is one of the more common nervous system issues to experience. Along with recurrence of symptoms, these disorders are also judged by how much of a burden the pain is, if it’s enough to cause disability, if its damaging to life quality, and if it comes with a financial cost.

Weed migraine treatment
Weed migraine treatment

We often hear another word come up when dealing with headaches; migraines. A migraine headache is a type of headache wherein the user experiences a throbbing sensation, and only (or generally only) on one side of the head. These headaches often come with feelings of general sickness, and can cause a sensitivity to light and/or sound. Migraines have another symptom that separates them from other more standard headaches. They often come with what’s called an ‘aura’, which involves symptoms right before and during, with the most well-known being a flashing light in the sufferer’s periphery vision.

Of the 50% of adults expected to get a headache in a year, about 30% of these cases will be for a migraine headache. As much as 1.7-4% of the world’s population experiences headaches as often as 15 days or more in a single month. In fact, headaches are one of those things that affect everyone, everywhere, of pretty much every ethnicity, race, or any other dividing factor you can think of.

Since headaches are such a prevalent issue, its not surprising that there is a huge selection on the market for non-prescription painkillers. Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen…, and the list goes on. Some headache sufferers find relief in standard painkillers, while others have symptoms unaffected by such medications. For some people, there really isn’t anything in the non-prescription world that helps.

What about weed as your new headache medicine?

So we’ve got a problem that nearly everyone suffers from at least sometimes, and which a pretty large chunk of the population suffer from frequently. We have a host of pain medications, but a frequent deficit in how well they cure symptoms. We also have an awful and growing issue associated with the use of stronger pain medications like opioids, making them a fundamentally bad option for this type of problem.

And finally, we have cannabis, which is the new darling of the medical world, and which offers tons of answers outside the pharmaceutical space, for a growing number of ailments. Whereas previous research shows its useful for headaches, new research helps confirm the plant as a possible new go-to headache medicine treatment.

Earlier this year, the study, Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Migraine in Adults: A Review of the Evidence, was published. This study did not involve a specific user group, but instead took data from 12 different publications. In order to do this, researchers searched through the following platforms: PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Web of Science.

Headache medicine
Headache medicine

Altogether, 1,980 respondents were a part of the investigation. Unlike some research that pull from other studies to show (or, attempt to show) connections between data points, this study only used previous studies that were specifically looking into the exact same subject matter. In fact, all studies were about medical marijuana and migraines, in adults at least 18 years of age.

The results of the study didn’t show cannabis as an overall cure for migraine ailments, but it did show weed helped reduce symptoms when used as a headache medicine. Using medical cannabis greatly reduced nausea and vomiting which often accompany such headaches. It also brought down the length of time migraines lasted, when looking after the first 30 days; as well as the frequency such headaches came on within a month.

According to study results, cannabis showed to be 51% better at reducing migraines than non-cannabis medicines. And though it wasn’t a cure-all, the cannabis actually did end the headaches in as many as11.6% cases, along with reducing frequency.

This is not to say that there were no adverse effects associated. The cannabis did at times lead to what are called medication overuse headaches (MOH). On the plus side, these were generally mild, though they did occur in about 43.75% of the patients who were administered cannabis through oral preparations. This could indicate that a different delivery method might cut down on this problem.

Why this matters?

A couple decades ago, no one was bent out of shape over the idea of a growing number of people getting addicted to – and subsequently overdosing on – pain pills. Because we didn’t deal with the kind of pain pills capable of doing that. In the last couple decades, synthetic opioids grew in popularity, leading to a massive issue of addiction and death, all in the name of curing pain.

Usually something like an opioid isn’t prescribed for a headache issue, and that’s good because when considering how prevalent headaches are, the idea of doling out such strong medications could lead to some horrifying results. We already have enough of an issue with these medications being prescribed for chronic pain. But this isn’t to say they couldn’t be used for headaches in the future, and this is where it gets scary.

Weed medicine
Weed medicine

A few decades ago, opioids weren’t used for any of the issues they’re used for today. And the original uses when they did come out, weren’t as expansive as today. There’s nothing saying that doctors can’t start prescribing opioids for headaches, and if opioids ever become big for this, it could be incredibly detrimental for society.

Headaches can persist, though, and that’s a problem. The more of an issue there is, the more of an answer people want. And it’s best if that answer doesn’t cause more problems. In fact, its best if that answer doesn’t come with the detractions of basic medications like Tylenol or Advil, like toxicity and stomach issues. It’s best if something is offered to the population that won’t get people addicted.

Cannabis is currently investigated and used for a myriad of issues, and it seems that stopping that headache, is just the next in line.


Can you imagine an ad with a guy clutching his head in pain, and then smoking a joint and looking relieved? Imagine the tagline, ‘weed, it’s you new headache medicine’ right underneath the guy. Right now, these ads are for acetaminophen, or some kind of ibuprofen, and come with the image of a little round pill. Maybe this will stay as it is, and maybe it will change. Maybe in a couple years, that little round pill will be a weed vape cartridge, and it will be socially acceptable to give a little toke, when the pain flares up.

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About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.