Anyone who has suffered through a migraine will tell you that the pain can be debilitating and disabling.

The causes of migraines are still not completely understood, but there are factors that can trigger an on-set attack. Changes in hormone levels, stress and disrupted sleep patterns have all been known to initiate unpleasant headaches and an array of symptoms.

Here in Calgary, sudden barometric pressure changes are constantly in the forecast. With chinooks always looming, locals are often looking for effective ways to ease the pain.

How migraines present will vary from person to person, but common symptoms include throbbing pain (usually on one side of the head), sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, auras, and vomiting. The combination of these painful symptoms often prevent migraine sufferers from partaking in routine daily activities. The condition itself is ranked by the World Health Organization as the 6th highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability.

According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 8.3% of Canadians (2.7 million people) reported that they had been diagnosed with migraine. This number may be even greater as some individuals don’t always seek help when they experience pain, therefore never receiving a formal diagnosis.

These alarming numbers show how prevalent these painful attacks have become, and those frustrated at their headaches are seeking out more effective ways to manage their condition.

Dealing with the pain

Since migraine attacks can last from hours to days, finding ways to manage the pain is important for patients to improve their quality of life.

Many people reach for over-the-counter pain relievers as a first response to migraine pain. Others opt for more alternative treatments including vitamin supplements, proper hydration and improved sleep to help reduce the duration and severity of an attack.

But what if there was an effective, natural treatment that has been scientifically proven to reduce the pain and frequency of migraines, with minimal adverse side effects?

Medical Cannabis:  From an ancient migraine treatment to today’s focus of study

A growing number of people are seeking headache relief through an ancient migraine remedy; cannabis. Dating as far back as 4th century BCE, cannabis has been recorded as an effective treatment in “Diseases of the Head” in Ayurvedic preparations of the plant in India. Other ancient cultures relied on its powerful healing properties, with evidence of cannabis use in Greece, Assyria and China.

migraine as disability

Eventually, cannabis became a popular treatment for migraines in Western cultures. It was prescribed by physicians often during the 1800’s. Unfortunately, it’s popularity quickly waned after it became classified as an illegal substance in the late 1930’s.

Luckily, since the discovery of the the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the early 1990’s, a renewed interest in the healing properties of medical cannabis has emerged.

What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how can it help with migraines?

For centuries, cannabis was used to treat a variety of different maladies. Healers did not fully understand why the plant was so effective, but they witnessed the positive benefits firsthand. The role cannabis played in ancient medicine made it a very intriguing subject for modern scientists, and the biological effects of the drug are now more understood with the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Even though the ECS earned its name from the plant that led to its discovery (cannabis) our bodies are already home to various endocannabinoids. These neurotransmitters and their receptors play an important role in regulating a variety of physiological processes including pain-sensation, appetite and mood.

With the discovery of this powerful biological system, researchers have been conducting a variety studies involving both animal and human subjects to determine the impact the ECS has within the body.

Due to the popularity of cannabis for the treatment of pain throughout history, there appears to be significant scientific interest in learning more about its potential to manage painful, chronic conditions (including migraines).

Research in cannabis and migraines

A recent study from the University of Colorado taking place between 2010 to 2014 demonstrated that medical marijuana was effective in reducing the frequency of migraines in a study sample of 121 adults.

Additionally, there is now exciting research emerging that suggests endocannabinoid deficiencies may play a role in certain chronic conditions, including migraines. This study suggests that treating these chronic conditions with cannabinoid as medicine is a promising therapeutic tool.

Studies have found that when the ECS is activated, there is a reduction in both the physiological and inflammatory components of pain that are involved in migraine attacks.

With the benefits of taking medical cannabis becoming well-known, we are excited to offer our patients with the opportunity to safely explore this effective treatment option – especially if they have not responded well to other migraine treatments.

Seeking migraine relief in Calgary

The best way to know if medical cannabis can help keep your migraines at bay is to come in for a medical consult with a physician at one of our clinics here in Calgary.

Appointments for Alberta residents are free and covered by the Alberta Health Services. Prior to your medical consultation with one of our licensed physicians, you will be educated on how medical cannabis works in our body and how it reacts to our endocannabinoid system.

During your education session with a Cann-Expert, you will learn:

  1. The main differences between an Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strain. Benefits of THC, CBD, and Balanced strains.
  2. Our unique Endocannabinoid Systems  (ECS).
  3. Timing of inhalation vs ingestion.

At the time of your consultation, the doctor will review you medical history and ensure that medical cannabis will not conflict with any medications you’re currently taking. He or she will then prescribe the best medical cannabis treatment plan for you. Our team will guide you in selecting a license producer as well the registration.

Ask for medical cannabis for migraines- it can improve your quality of life

Our caring team of educators and physicians can help you navigate the many migraine relief options out there. They have already helped countless of patients suffering with migraines.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us – we are happy to discuss your symptoms and possible solutions, including medical cannabis.