A Healing Toolbox for Migraine Relief
Kait Fowlie is a writer, tarot reader and reiki practitioner located in Parkdale, Toronto. Her work is about connecting people to ideas and rituals that empower them to be their own healer!
…and that includes the optional use of, you guessed it - cannabis!
How did you first get into cannabis for wellness?
My journey with cannabis really started about 10 years ago, around the time I moved to the city. I got a job in the kitchen at the Hot Box Cafe and was really just introduced to this whole world. There was such a passionate, collaborative, mission-driven energy rumbling below the surface here. I felt deeply at home there.
Fast forward a few years later, when I started freelance writing. Women’s wellness with a focus on local community was always the sort of niche I gravitated toward. I’ve always been fascinated by women who create community around wellness - like, yoga teachers and juice bar owners, etc. As the years went on, this interest in a sort of bohemian, community-focused approach to wellness led me to find more and more wellness brands that revolve around cannabis. These people have come up from the underground and really are, to me, thought leaders and trailblazers.
Just a year or so back I was connected with Lorilynn, the co-founder of Weedbox, and it felt like a natural fit. I get to dive into researching this topic that really stands at the crossroads of everything I’m interested in now. Deep wellness (or maybe, the intersection of spirituality and wellness, if you like), community events and parties and people gathering, and empowered self-healing.
I also run a full moon ritual (a mix of reiki healing, restorative yoga, astrology-chat and intention-setting) at The Quiet Company with Elevated Asana, another female-led organization built on passion and reverence for this plant. I also write for HelloMD, a fantastic resource for people looking for medical information about cannabis. I also love to support local, women-led cannabis organizations wherever and however I can.
What are the benefits/science around using cannabis for migraines?
Yes! I am so happy you asked me this because good goddess, migraines are awful. I’ve had chronic migraines ever since I was a toddler.
Studies have shown that cannabis can significantly reduce migraine symptoms. This particular study gave a group of participants cannabis (most patients used more than one form, most used it daily for prevention), for a 4 year period - and found that the average number of migraines decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 per month. Overall, 85% of participants reported fewer migraines, and 11.6% reported that cannabis stopped their migraines entirely.
When it comes to THC vs. CBD for migraines, a mix of both of them have proven to be effective for prevention. This 2017 study found that the combination of both used daily for prevention was actually more effective than antidepressant amitriptyline, which is commonly used to treat migraines - 43% more effective!
CBD and THC both have anti-inflammatory properties, so they can both reduce pain, and THC is also effective for quelling nausea, which a lot of migraineurs deal with. If you want to keep a clearer head though, CBD-heavy strains can help ease pain symptoms without the psychoactive effects - so keep that in mind.
Best application(s) for migraine relief?
Inhalation is really the fastest and most predictable way to use cannabis for migraine relief. This, as opposed to ingesting an edible of some kind - which just takes too long to take effect, and can be a little more unpredictable. I also like topicals, too, for localized pain relief. I use a lotion with CBD on on my temples, neck and shoulders when I have a migraine and it tends to help. Also, I find having hot baths when I get migraines helps, so a CBD oil-infused bath bomb is a real game-changer to have on hand.
Other tips for migraine relief?
Cannabis is just one tool in our healing toolbox.
There is no one be-all end all solution for long-term migraine relief (that I know of - and I’ve been to many neurologists over the years!) For me, when I don’t drink enough water, it can be a trigger. Staying hydrated is big, for so many aspects of health. Sleep hygiene is another important one too (making sure I have a nightly ritual that I feel confident about). When I don’t sleep well too many nights in a row, it can be a trigger.
Ultimately, though, too much stress over a long period of time can really cause a build-up-to-crash kind of situation which eventually culminates in a migraine followed by an epic crash. To avoid this, I think about it like, there’s a certain number of factors, or triggers, that the body can manage at one time. If I’m dehydrated, haven’t slept well, and start stressing about some change on the horizon, then my strength is really compromised and I know I’m at a higher risk for a migraine. Consistent self-care is so important.
Want more from Kait? You can read her writing on weedbox.io and HelloMD, and she also posts everything she writes at kaitfowlie.com, where she also has an online store for my reiki and tarot services. You can follow her on IG at @kait_fowlie.