From the Editor: More Than a Headache
Migraines are extraordinarily common and deeply misunderstood by those who’ve never had one. Anyone who’s experienced a migraine will agree: It’s not just a headache. It can bring a person to their knees or cause them to curl up for days in a darkened room, shutting out all sound and light, suffering from nausea and excruciating head pain. It might be preceded by an aura or other visual disturbances, cause vomiting, and be accompanied by an intolerance for light and sound—just for starters.
Migraines can last for a few hours to a few days and may be occasional or recurrent, striking several times a month. They afflict nearly 40 million Americans and strike women three times more than men. As contributor Mark Coggins reports in this issue’s feature on the condition, migraine is the second most disabling disease in the world, costing the nation approximately $78 billion each year and preventing individuals from carrying out their activities of daily living, thriving in their careers, and performing the duties of parenthood.
It’s not clear what causes migraine, but research points to genetics, environment, and imbalances in brain chemicals.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications and drugs designed to help prevent migraine or reduce its severity are often ineffective and may cause side effects. It’s little wonder patients look elsewhere for relief, including to cannabis. But does it help?
Coggins reviews the science, and while he acknowledges a dearth of large clinical studies, he finds evidence for cannabis use, suggesting not only that it may offer relief for pain, but also ease nausea.
We want to hear from you. Have you worked with patients using cannabis for migraine relief? Get in touch and share your experience.
— Kate Jackson