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Migraines and Medicinal Cannabis

Migraines are debilitating headaches that affect millions of people worldwide. These intense headaches often come with a range of symptoms, including severe pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. For many migraine sufferers, finding effective treatments can be challenging. However, an increasing body of research suggests that medicinal cannabis may hold promise in alleviated the symptoms of migraines.

Migraine Awareness Month, observed annually in June, serves as a critical opportunity to shed light on the impact of migraines and raise awareness.

Understanding Migraines and Conventional Treatments

Migraines are complex neurological disorders characterized by recurring headaches that can last for hours or even days. They can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, productivity, and overall well-being. Conventional treatments for migraines often involve over-the-counter pain medications, prescription drugs, lifestyle modifications, and avoidance of triggers. However, these approaches may not always provide satisfactory relief or can have adverse side effects.

Cannabinoids and Migraine Relief

The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, with two main ones THC and CBD. Both THC and CBD have shown potential in addressing migraines, although their mechanisms of action differ.

• THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating/psychotropic component of cannabis, has been found to have pain-relieving properties. It can potentially help alleviate migraine-related pain by interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.

• CBD: Cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, is known for its potential analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It may offer relief from migraines by modulating pain perception, reducing inflammation, and promoting relaxation. CBD is also believed to have anti-nausea effects, which can be beneficial for migraine sufferers who experience nausea and vomiting during attacks.

• Balanced CBD:THC Effects: Some studies suggest that the combination of THC and CBD may have a synergistic effect, potentially enhancing the therapeutic benefits for migraine relief. This combination may offer a balance between pain reduction and minimizing any psychotropic side effects.

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Considerations and Precautions

While cannabis shows promise in managing migraines, it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable healthcare professional before considering medical cannabis for migraines. They can provide guidance on dosage, product selection, potential drug interactions, and ensure it is safe with your overall health condition.

• Methods of consumption: THC and CBD have different effects depending on whether they are used to treat acute migraine attacks, reduce migraine frequency, or both.

Inhalation of dried cannabis with a vaporization device has a fast-acting effect that usually begins to take effect in 3–10 minutes and lasts for 2–4 hours. Due to its fast onset of action, patients report using this method for acute migraine attacks.

Oral ingestion of cannabis oil or softgels take longer to work but typically last for 8-12 hours. Patients report using this method to avoid migraines and to reduce their frequency and intensity.

• Product selection: Different cannabis cultivars and products may have varying levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, which can influence their effects. Cultivars and products higher in CBD and lower in THC may be more suitable for individuals seeking migraine relief without significant psychotropic effects.

• Individual responses: The effects of medicinal cannabis can vary from person to person. It is important to start with low doses and gradually titrate to find the optimal dosage that provides relief while minimizing any unwanted side effects.

While there is potential for cannabis as a migraine treatment, more research is required to determine its efficacy, safety, and best application. Please consult with your healthcare practitioner if you’re thinking about trying medicinal cannabis as a migraine alternative treatment.

Need help getting a medicinal cannabis treatment plan for migraines?

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Bell, A. D., MacCallum, C. A., Margolese, S., Walsh, Z., Wright, P., Daeninck, P. J., Mandarino, E., Lacasse, G., Jagpaul Kaur Deol, Lauren de Freitas, Michelle St Pierre, Belle-Isle, L., Gagnon, M., Bevan, S., Sanchez, T., Arlt, S., Monahan-Ellison, M., O’Hara, J., Boivin, M., & Costiniuk, C. T. (2023). Clinical Practice Guidelines for Cannabis and Cannabinoid-Based Medicines in the Management of Chronic Pain and Co-Occurring Conditions.
Rhyne, D. N., Anderson, S. L., Gedde, M., & Borgelt, L. M. (2016). Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population. Pharmacotherapy, 36(5), 505–510.
Russo, E. B. (2016). Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 1(1), 154–165.

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Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada
Every year, countless lives are forever changed by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These injuries can occur suddenly, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. In Canada, the month of June is dedicated to raising awareness about brain injuries and the impact they have on individuals, families, and communities. Brain Injury Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the need for education, support, and prevention strategies to mitigate the devastating consequences of these injuries. Brain injuries are complex and debilitating conditions that can have a profound impact on a person’s physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. TBIs have a wide range of causes, including motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports-related injuries, workplace accidents, and assaults. The challenges can interfere with one's ability to function in daily life, in relationships, at work, or in social situations. The burden extends beyond the individual to their loved ones who support and care for them. Both the survivor and their family members may experience greater stress and isolation as a result of the significant physical, mental, and financial toll. The Potential of Medicinal Cannabis in Brain Injury Recovery Pain, insomnia, and anxiety are three interrelated symptoms of brain injuries known as the "pain triad," and medicinal cannabis could treat all three symptoms simultaneously without the negative side effects associated with some medications. Often, a combination of CBD and THC is needed to manage the symptoms; during the day, CBD has anti-inflammatory and anxiety-relieving properties without intoxication, and at bedtime, a low dose of THC eases pain and promotes sleep. 1.     Neuroprotective properties: Preclinical studies have suggested that cannabinoids, particularly CBD, possess neuroprotective properties, which means they may help protect brain cells from further damage and promote their survival. 2.     Anti-inflammatory effects: Brain injuries often lead to inflammation, which can exacerbate the damage and hinder the recovery process and can unfortunately sometimes lead to certain types of Alzheimer’s. Cannabinoids have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, potentially reducing neuroinflammation and facilitating the healing process. 3.     Pain management: Chronic pain is a common symptom associated with brain injuries. Medicinal cannabis has been widely acknowledged for its pain-relieving properties and has shown promise in managing various conditions, including neuropathic pain often experienced by individuals with brain injuries. 4.     Emotional stress management: Many individuals with brain injuries experience mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and irritability. Some studies suggest that certain cannabinoids, notably THC and CBD, may provide potential relief for these symptoms. 5.     Sleep aid: Brain injuries can disrupt the normal sleep-wake cycle, leading to various sleep disturbances. Cannabinoids (such as CBD, THC and CBN) may have both sleep-promoting and wakefulness-inducing properties. Did you know that many Canadian insurance providers cover the use of medicinal cannabis to treat chronic neuropathic pain? Visit our Guide to Medical Cannabis Reimbursement. While the potential for medicinal cannabis in brain injury recovery is an exciting area of research, more scientific evidence is needed to establish effectiveness, safety, and optimal utilization. Individuals considering medicinal cannabis as a supplementary therapy should consult with their healthcare provider. Need help getting a medicinal cannabis treatment plan for a brain injury? Book an appointment here. References: Aychman, M. M., Goldman, D. L., & Kaplan, J. S. (2023). Cannabidiol’s neuroprotective properties and potential treatment of traumatic brain injuries. Frontiers in Neurology, 14. Retrieved from Lins, B.R., Anyaegbu, C.C., Hellewell, S.C., Papini, M., McGonigle, T., et al. (2023). Cannabinoids in traumatic brain injury and related neuropathologies: preclinical and clinical research on endogenous, plant-derived, and synthetic compounds. Journal of Inflammation, 20, 77, 1-21. Retrieved from,management%20of%20traumatic%20brain%20injury. Mechoulam, R. (2002). Cannabinoids and brain injury: therapeutic implications. Trends in Molecular Medicine, 8(2), 58–61. Schurman, L.D., & Lichtman, A.H. (2017). Endocannabinoids: a promising impact for traumatic brain injury. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8, 69. Retrieved from Scuderi, C., Steardo, L., & Esposito, G. (2013). Cannabidiol Promotes Amyloid Precursor Protein Ubiquitination and Reduction of Beta Amyloid Expression in SHSY5YAPP+Cells Through PPARγ Involvement. Phytotherapy Research, 28(7), 1007–1013.
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What is the difference between Medicinal and Recreational cannabis?
Canadians have access to both medicinal and recreational cannabis products, and while they may come from the same plant, it's essential to understand the distinctions between the two. According to Canadian surveys of people who take cannabis for medicinal purposes: • Almost 1 in 3 reports taking it for over 10 years • Nearly 1 in 2 reports taking it to reduce the use of other medications However, almost 1 in 2 individuals do not have a medical authorization from a healthcare provider so they purchase their cannabis from a recreation store (such as online or dispensary). Healthcare providers may not authorize the use of medicinal cannabis for several reasons, including: • 34% say they have concerns about lack of evidence • 36% reports unwillingness to discuss cannabis • 50% reports lack of knowledge about medicinal cannabis Why is this a concern? People living with serious health conditions (and sometimes life-threatening ones) are pushed to self-medicate without any medical supervision. This increases the risk of ineffective symptom management, incorrect dosing, and adverse effects. Cannabis as a medicine requires the same consultation, screening, and monitoring as any other medication – from a trained medical professional! Book an appointment with a Health Care Practitioner here: Book An Appointment References: Balneaves, L. G., Brown, A., Green, M., Prosk, E., Rapin, L., Monahan-Ellison, M., McMillan, E., Zaid, J., Dworkind, M., & Watling, C. Z. (2023). Medical Cannabis Access and Experiences in Canada. Medical Cannabis Access Survey Summary Report. University of Manitoba, McGill University, Sante Cannabis, Medical Cannabis Canada, & SheCann. Retrieved from: Clarke, H., & Fitzcharles, M. (2023). The evolving culture of medical cannabis in Canada for the management of chronic pain. 14. Costiniuk, C. T., MacCallum, C. A., Boivin, M., Rueda, S., Lacasse, G., Walsh, Z., Daeninck, P. J., Margolese, S., Mandarino, E., Jagpaul Kaur Deol, Sanchez, T., & Bell, A. D. (2023). Why a distinct medical stream is necessary to support patients using cannabis for medical purposes. 5(1), 25–25.