The Cannabis Cure For Headaches
You may already know that Cannabis has been recognized throughout human history as a safe & effective treatment for headaches. But even if you already know that Cannabis is a remarkable treatment for many kinds of headaches, I’ve been reading a research paper on this topic that is worth a bit of study no matter how familiar you are with medical Cannabis.
This research study, published in a peer-reviewed medical journal and authored by prominent Southern California physicians and psychiatrists, gets around the US government’s deliberate failure to fund studies that might show Cannabis is an effective natural medicine by examining the ancient & past historical record in detail, as well as by looking at credible contemporary reports and analyses.
It is written in easily understood, layman’s language and cites historical sources like Assyrian manuscripts dating around 2000 BC, the ancient Greek physician Dioscorides, the 9th Century Arabic medical encyclopedia “Al-Aq-rabadhin Al-Saghir”, and Persian medical texts from the 10th through the 17th Centuries. Most relevant to today’s environment, the researchers also cite clinical literature showing wide-spread medical use of Cannabis for headaches in the 1800’s in Europe and America.
This research study focuses on the four main types of headache: migraines, tension-type headaches, cluster headaches, and medication-overuse headaches. The authors find that headache is a major public health concern, with enormous individual and social costs estimated at $14.4 billion annually, due mainly to decreased quality of life, decreased productivity and crippling disability. Each year, nearly 50% of the US population experiences major headaches, including migraine (10%), tension-type headache (38%), and chronic daily headache (3%).
Women are 200-300% more likely than men to experience migraine and 125% more likely to experience tension-type headache, which may explain to some degree why the government could care less about headache research. As most people know, any disease that affects mainly women and minorities typically gets the shaft from our government unless strong advocacy forces the issue.
Some of the most powerful evidence for the effectiveness of Cannabis in treating and curing headaches of all kinds comes from clinical publications in 19th Century America and Europe. According to the authors “Clinical publications between 1839 and 1937 provide valuable insights into the most effective practices, challenges, and benefits during an era when cannabis was commonly used to treat headache.”
They continue, “Historical sources indicate that cannabis was used as an effective prophylactic and abortive treatment for headache disorders. Although dosing varied among physicians, most prescribed alcohol extractions of the drug in the range of ¼ to ½ grain (16–32 mg). This dose was likely chosen to minimize the effects of intoxication while also providing effective therapeutic relief. Other providers suggested that doses should be progressively increased until modest effects of intoxication were felt. For prophylactic treatment, these doses were usually administered two to three times daily for weeks or even months. Acute treatment often involved higher doses taken as needed and, in some cases, smoked cannabis was recommended.”
As so often happens, non-medical people suffering from a disease are way ahead of the doctors in seeking out treatments and cures, and the millions of Americans and Europeans who suffer from headaches today are no exception. Even though the usefulness of Cannabis for treating headaches has been well-established for centuries, and even though the US government makes it a crime to treat yourself with Cannabis, millions of people have been risking jail (before the growing success of the Cannabis legalization movement) to use Cannabis as a medicine, and they already know that it works even in the absence of official “proof”.
The authors discuss how both doctors and patients are already “proving” that Cannabis works in states where it is now legal. For example, in a passage on the current state of Cannabis treatment in California, the authors note that:
“Many individuals are currently using cannabis for the treatment of migraine and headache with positive results. In a survey of nine California clinics … 40.7% patients self-reported that cannabis had therapeutic benefits for headaches and migraines. In another California survey of 7525 patients, 8.43% of patients reported that they were using medical cannabis to treat migraines. Another survey of 1430 patients found that 9% of patients were using medical cannabis to treat migraines.”
The authors further report that “One retrospective study described 121 patients who received cannabis for migraine treatment, among whom 85.1% of these patients reported a reduction in migraine frequency. The mean number of migraines at the initial visit was 10.4, falling to 4.6 at follow-up visits after cannabis treatment. Moreover, 11.6% of the patients found that, when smoked, cannabis could effectively arrest the generation of a migraine.”
In today’s environment there are plenty of choices of strains of Cannabis that are well-known to be specifically helpful for relief of headache, regardless of the absence of clinical research. In Cannabis-legal states you can depend on the team comprised of a trusted medical professional and your local medical Cannabis dispensary to provide you with good information on your treatment options.
In states where Cannabis is not yet legal, patients who have to resort to the “black market” can inform themselves on what to look for through on-line resources like https://leafly.com, a trustworthy provider of both medical and recreational strain information. Then it’s a matter of buying from someone who can be trusted to sell you exactly what they claim they are selling you, to ensure that you are getting a headache-specific Cannabis strain.
Fortunately, many of the most common “black market” strains are known to be therapeutic for headache, although online Cannabis advice-givers seem to focus almost exclusively on Migraines and ignore making recommendations for tension headaches, cluster headaches, and medication-overuse headaches.
Among the commonly available strains that are also widely recommended for Migraines are Northern Lights, OG Kush, Blue Dream, Lemon Kush, and several low-THC, high-CBD strains that are not as universally available including Charlotte’s Web, CBD, Harlequin and Remedy. Always seek the most reliable source for your medical Cannabis, and stay aware of the fact that growers of the same strain vary widely in their attention to healthful growing practices. The OG Kush that one Dispensary offers will not be the same that others offer, and one Dispensary’s bud may be responsibly grown while the grower for another Dispensary may be a chem-head. Especially if you’re vaporizing flower to deal with headache – the best way, I’ve found – it pays to avoid Cannabis that may have pesticide residues and stick with dependable sources.
“Mom couldn’t sleep more than a couple of hours and then she would just lie awake until I came in to get her up in the morning. She would always be exhausted. When Medical Marijuana became legal in our state I asked her doctor if she would prescribe it for Mom for sleeping. The doctor said that she could prescribe Medical Marijuana for pain but not for sleeping, so we agreed that it might help Mom’s arthritis. I filled out the paperwork and got approved and then went to the dispensary and bought the first prescription. The young woman there talked with me about dosage and recommended a Vaporizer for Mom rather than her smoking the Marijuana. She showed me how it worked and how easy it was to control the dose by the size of what I put in the Vaporizer.
Mom now inhales just once or twice from the Vaporizer at bedtime and then falls asleep reading! Before her Medical Marijuana she hadn’t read a book in years. Now she reads and then sleeps for five or six hours. And also, we now light up the vaporizer again before her lunch, which she now actually eats and then she takes a two-hour nap! Medical Marijuana has been a blessing for her. And it really does help with her arthritis pain too.”
Kathy (Washington) in a Panaceachronicles.com comment
If Cannabis Flowers did nothing else but help people get a good night’s sleep or a restful afternoon nap then the fact that it is helpful in so many other ways almost wouldn’t matter. But the fact is that, for most older people, pure, natural Cannabis flowers are the only sleep-aid they will ever need. The bonus is that these natural little beauties are not addictive like so many pharmaceuticals and don’t cause collateral damage to your brain or body like almost all pharmaceuticals.
Where most prescription and OTC sleeping pills operate by knocking you out without even a hint of subtlety, and leave you with brain fog and a nasty headache, not to mention organ and neurological damage with long-term use, you can tailor your Cannabis flower sleep medicine to give you exactly the kind of sleep you’re looking for without paying for that relief with ugly side-effects afterwards.
Since there are over 800 recognized strains of Cannabis, and since each strain has its own treating & healing properties, let’s begin by discussing the best kinds of Cannabis for promoting sleep.
In one sense this is an easy task. Almost any landrace or hybrid Kush, a family of Cannabis strains that originates in the mountains of Central Asia, has strong sleep-inducing properties. Commonly available Kush strains include Hindu Kush, OG Kush, Purple Afghani and Purple Kush.
Some strains based on Kush genetics without “Kush” in their names also have the sleep-aid properties of pure Kush strains including AK-47 and White Widow. A little research at a credible website such as leafly.com will give you all the information you need, and if there is a dispensary in your area that you trust you’ll probably be able to get good advice on the spot.
With a number of excellent choices available, if you are using a medical Cannabis dispensary as your source then choosing which Cannabis strain is right for you, or the older person you are caring for is simply a matter of what is available in your area. In states that allow medical Cannabis sales through dispensaries your challenge is going to be finding the most helpful, knowledgeable dispensary and then working with them to determine which of the strains they carry will work best in your individual situation.
When discussing Medical Marijuana with any advisor for use as a sleep aid remember that it is important to take into account whether you are taking any pharmaceuticals for any other medical conditions. If you are fortunate enough to live in a legal state and have a doctor who is knowledgeable then you can get advice from them, but the reality is that Cannabis conflicts with very few pharmaceuticals. However, if for example you have Diabetes then you will want to choose a strain that does not promote the “Munchies” which could easily lead to a blood sugar overload.
This is just one example of the kind of common-sense precaution that anyone using Cannabis for any reason needs to take. Others include precautions that asthmatics need to keep in mind when thinking about inhaled vs ingested Cannabis, issues that a person challenged with obesity might face if the Cannabis strain that they choose for sleep instead makes them want to raid the fridge, and potential hazards from falling that an elderly person might face unless they are all tucked in before their Cannabis sleep aid starts to come on strong, or if they have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and are still half-asleep. Any such issues can be resolved by taking a thoughtful approach to the use of Cannabis as a sleep aid, and by asking knowledgeable people for advice on potential issues before beginning.
In states that allow patients to contract with growers for their medical Cannabis supply you won’t be limited to what a dispensary has in stock as a sleep aid choice, since a responsible medical Cannabis grower will have access to seed stock for virtually any strain you feel is best, and of course a good grower will also understand the properties of each strain and be able to make knowledgeable recommendations.
Finally, if you are in a position to grow a personal legal crop of medical Cannabis for you or for your patient you will be able to choose from among dozens of first-rate Cannabis seed suppliers, and you’ll be even more certain of the provenance of the strain you are growing. These are people who have been in the trenches of the “War On Drugs”, and who have dedicated their lives to making authentic, pure Cannabis seeds available to growers worldwide despite the terrible risks. Now that Cannabis is finally coming into its own as a natural medicine these seed producers have come out into the open and as long as you live in a Cannabis-legal state you’ll be able to buy your seeds from any of them online.
Are We Talking Naptime or Nighttime?
Normal sleep patterns vary so much that there’s no general prescription the best use of Cannabis therapy for an individual who is experiencing a short-term or long-term disruption of their sleep. Fortunately, plenty of people have talked online about their experiences with Cannabis as a sleep-aid.
It’s important to keep in mind that a person with sleep problems might not need a Cannabis strain that will essentially knock them out, and some of the “couchlock” strains of Cannabis Indica can do just that. But a given individual may benefit more from a Cannabis Sativa strain that simply relaxes them and helps them enjoy reading a little before falling asleep, and might reject the more compelling hammer of Indica at bedtime. Because Cannabis lets a person choose from among different pathways to sleep it’s important not to throw away this advantage by simply assuming that everyone needs a strong Cannabis Indica for sleep.
One pathway to sleep that many seniors enjoy is a daytime nap, and yet many people who suffer from conditions that create pain and discomfort have a hard time getting any rest during the day, much less at night. So in some sense the ability to nap peacefully may simply depend upon relief from the conditions of body and mind that are interfering with that daytime rest.
This leads to a consideration of what strain or strains of Cannabis are already being ingested, if any, to treat any of the person’s other health issues besides sleep and rest? If Cannabis is not already being used to treat any other conditions, then the choice of strain or strains and the method and timing of use in promoting daytime and nighttime sleep become less problematic.
But if a heavy strain is already being used, say for pain, and the person is still having a problem with sleep, the problem may be that the heavy Cannabis strain being used to help control the pain has lost some of its sleep-promoting effect in the process. This may mean that the pathway to sleep is blocked, and if it is, then the relaxation & meditation pathway to sleep may still be opened by the use of a mentally stimulating Sativa strain. If the environment is right and if the person is able to relax in bed or a comfortable reclining chair doing something they enjoy like reading or watching a movie, then a little Sativa flower in a cup of infused tea or in a vaporizer can send a person onto that longed-for pathway to sleep, perchance to dream, with just a light touch of the sacred blossom even if they are also taking a heavy-duty strain for pain.
Another important consideration is whether or not to smoke Cannabis as a way to enjoy its sleep benefits. For Seniors who don’t mind, or who enjoy smoking, this is a good choice for shorter dozes like an afternoon nap, or as a way to get back to sleep in the middle of the night. The sleep that comes with smoking a nice pipe of Kush will last at least several hours, but not much longer, and there is very little residual mind cotton. However, for a Senior who for whatever reason doesn’t want to smoke, which for many Seniors is a good decision, vapor devices offer a great alternative.
There are several big differences between smoking Cannabis bud and using a Vapor device.
First, since the vapor device doesn’t combust the THC in the bud, it takes fewer puffs to get the desired result. Which also means that if you are buying Cannabis, your usage is less expensive and if you grow your own or a friend grows it for you, you use less per session.
Second, also because there is no combustion, there are no nasty combustion byproducts. In spite of all the positive aspects of Cannabis use, Cannabis buds are still organic plant material and when you combust any plant material – Cannabis flower or firewood – you get hundreds of chemical compounds in the smoke, many of them harmful and even carcinogenic, along with particles that lodge in the tiny air sacs in the lungs.
A third benefit is that with pure vapor you get more of the great tastes of the terpenes and oils in the Cannabis bud and almost none of the “gag and cough” components. Not that you can’t overdo it with a Vapor pipe too – the secret is to take small, light draws and to figure out from experience how much you need to get a good sleep and not to exceed that amount.
The final option for Seniors is ingestible Cannabis in just about any food or beverage form that you can imagine from gummy bears to classic brownies to infused teas. The advantage of ingesting Cannabis for sleep is that the effects last much longer than inhaled Cannabis. The effects take longer to come on, and when you wake up they take longer to wear off, but ingested Cannabis is definitely the solution for a Senior who wants a long night’s deep sleep. It is important to note that with ingested Cannabis dosage control is important because unlike smoking, you won’t know that you have taken too much until it’s too late to stop. This means that Seniors using ingested Cannabis as a sleep aid should be very particular about anything they buy, making sure that it is produced by a reputable company with solid dosage controls in place. Buying Cannabis edibles from local entrepreneurs can be just fine, or it can be a disaster in terms of dosage control.
Other than buying reputable Cannabis edibles, the other option is to make them yourself, and if you are buying your Cannabis from a good dispensary they ought to be able to tell you the concentration of THC per gram in the buds you are buying, as well as offering you everything you need in the way of scales, thermometers etc. to make your culinary efforts a success.
My wife and I both prefer to use Cannabis edibles as our sleep aid, and we also prefer to cook them ourselves because we can be certain of what ingredients are in the edible as well as how much THC there is in a given dose. Not all Seniors would want to go to this much trouble, which is why taking precautions is necessary if a Senior is using a commercial product, or even a batch of Alice B. Toklas brownies baked for them by a well-meaning friend.
Speaking of making edibles for yourself or a friend, although there are a lot of choices in Cannabis cookbooks these days I like to think that the recipes and extract techniques that my wife and I invented for my 1981 book “Marijuana Foods”, which was the first book written specifically for people who wanted to use edible Cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, still offer some of the easiest and most delicious ways to cook with and ingest the divine flower. You can find the hardcopy version of Marijuana Foods on Amazon.
With all sensible precautions taken, and all important choices made thoughtfully, Seniors who have access to high quality Cannabis can simply forget about any sleep issues they may have been having, and can toss those poison pills hawked by Pig Pharma where they belong – in the trash.