top of page

Using Cannabis to Prevent & Treat Migraines | Health

There are headaches and then there are migraines.

A migraine can be described like this: imagine your head being so full that all you want to do is let the pressure out or better yet, remove your head from your body to get some relief. The constant throbbing pain, ice-pick like or dull coupled with the inability to keep the eyes open due to sensitivity of light is uncomfortable to say the least. Add nausea and vomiting to this pain and it is impossible to work or to take care of anyone else, let alone take care of yourself. All you want to do is sleep, but you can’t because your mind is full of thoughts, and the outside world seems “too much,” with all its’ sounds, smells and light.

The migraine may be “triggered” from stress, emotional upset, lack of sleep, being dehydrated, eating certain foods, over activity, neck tension and environmental factors.

Women tend to have more migraines than men. Fluctuations in hormone levels and changes in the menstrual cycle can also lead to a migraine.

When a migraine hits, there is usually a day or two of the migraine pain followed by a few days of getting the appetite and sleep back with a possible lingering headache. It is common to also have trouble walking, thinking, forming a sentence and speaking. Many days of work, school and life can be missed when someone has migraines, so preventing migraines and knowing how to treat them is paramount.

For about 20% of people who get migraines, certain foods can be the trigger:

Foods That Cause Migraines:

  1. Aged cheese (swiss, feta, mozzarella, brie, blue cheese, cheddar)

  2. Chocolate

  3. Alcohol (red wine especially due to the sulfites, whiskey, beer, champagne)

  4. Processed meats

  5. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

  6. Certain fruits and vegetables (avocado, citrus, onions, banana)

  7. Fermented foods (soy sauce, sauerkraut)

  8. Caffeine

  9. Artificial sweeteners

A hot dog with sauerkraut or a chocolate covered strawberry can both lead to a migraine in those sensitive to migraine trigger foods. The presence of tyramine in the above foods is the cause of the migraine. Tyramine is found naturally in foods but it can change the blood flow in the blood vessels in the brain, causing an increase in pressure leading to migraine pain.

Keeping a migraine journal is a good way to keep track of foods eaten and if there is any correlation with migraines. The migraine may begin immediately or up to a day after eating the foods or drinks.

If a person gets a migraine and goes to the Emergency Room, then they may receive what’s called a “migraine cocktail.” It is a combination of several drugs given in the form of an injection to help with the nausea and pain. Some people report poor reactions from the injection and how it makes them feel.

Some people are prescribed migraine medicine but these can have poor side effects, with one side effect being headaches. Receiving Botox injections in the neck or head is a form of treatment for migraines but is an invasive procedure.

Cannabis can help prevent a migraine by keeping the body (and mind) relaxed. CBD and THC together can be used in the form of a tincture or a spray used in the mouth for more immediate relief. Cannabis can induce sleep which can help to curb the pain and heal from the migraine. Rubbing a topical THC on the neck where there is tension or on the head can also relieve muscle tightness and pain. Many MMJ patients report less migraines overall when using MMJ on a regular basis. Cannabis can help with migraines by reducing inflammation, relieving pain and the nausea and vomiting associated with migraines.

Cannabis helps migraine pain by working via the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within the body. “There is mounting evidence that the endocannabinoid system can directly reduce migraine pain when activated by naturally produced cannabinoids or medical cannabis taken by patients,” stated Dr. Jim Polston, who holds a PhD in neuroscience and researches Cannabis at Helius Therapeutics in Auckland, New Zealand.

As a Naturopathic Physician, these principles are the foundation of naturopathic medicine:

  1. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.

  2. Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

  3. First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:

  4. Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;

  5. Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and

  6. Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.

  7. Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.

  8. Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum): Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.

  9. Prevention (Praevenir): Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.

Treat a migraine using Naturopathic principles:

  1. Remove the obstacle to healing. If a person continues to eat the same foods that cause a migraine, then removing these foods from the diet may lead to a healing of migraines or less of them.

  2. If a person is continuously in a stressful situation whether it be a relationship or a job, and if that stress is the reason for the migraine, then the obstacle to healing is the job or the relationship/situation. Change that and the migraines may cease.

  3. What is the cause of the migraine? Is it from high blood pressure, stress, neck tension, exposure to sounds, smells (perfumes/colognes) and fluorescent lighting? Is the migraine from a more serious condition involving the brain? Seeing a neurologist may be needed.

  4. A combination of the herbs such as Feverfew and Lavender in the form of tincture of a capsule can help prevent migraines; taking magnesium to therapeutic level can also help.

  5. Look at other factors in a person’s life such as sleep, thought patterns, reoccurring stressors, diet, water consumption, etc.

  6. Prevent or minimize any migraine triggers whether it be food, a thought, a relationship, a situation, or stimulus from the environment.

Kimberly Landino

Dr. Kimberly Landino has been practicing Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona since 2001. She certifies patients for their MMJ card at All Greens Clinic in Sun City, AZ. Click here for more from Kimberly Landino.

Subscribe to get exclusive updates

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page