What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a neurological disorder that is typically described as an intense headache. It disproportionately affects women, as roughly 85% of sufferers are female. Migraines are the third most common illness in the world, with roughly one in five Australians suffering from a migraine at some point in their life.
What Causes Migraines?
The exact cause of migraines is still not known, however in many cases, irregular brain function changes nerve signals, affecting blood vessels and the chemical disposition in the brain. There are a number of factors that can trigger the onset of migraines, from environment to diet. These include:
- Bright lights
- Flickering lights or motion sensitivity
- Intense odours (such as perfume, paint or smoke)
- Skipping or missing meals
- Loud noises
- Severe weather
- Certain medications (such as contraceptives)
- Fatigue or lack of sleep
- Hormonal changes (including period)
- Citrus fruits
- Processed meats
- Alcohol (More commonly red wine or beer)
What are Migraine Symptoms?
Migraines can cause you to feel a range of unpleasant feelings that manifest in temporary physical issues. Some of these may begin up to a couple of days before the onset of the migraine itself and include:
Symptoms of migraines include:
- Pulsating headache
- Sensitivity to light
- Seeing an ‘aura’
- Food cravings
- Difficulty speaking
- Pins and needles
- Little energy
- Stiff neck
Medical Cannabis & Migraines
Emerging research has found that medical cannabis may be a useful treatment for migraines.
A study in Pharmacotherapy showed that cannabis use decreased the frequency of migraines by over half (10 per month down to 4) in roughly 40% of patients.
A study in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research showed that chronic users of cannabis developed rebound migraine attacks when ceasing treatment. This experience was similar to patients who stopped taking other migraine medication.
Two studies from Neuropsychopharmacology suggest that chronic migraine sufferers have reduced levels of endocannabinoids in their system. The first study showed a link between reduced levels of anandamide in their cerebrospinal fluid and chronic migraines. The second study showed that decreased endocannabinoid function and levels were associated with chronic migraines and medication overuse headaches
Always consult your doctor before taking any kind of medication, including for migraines. You should not discontinue treatment with any other treatment unless directed by your doctor.