We’ve likely all heard of some of the side effects that are possible when smoking weed. What is less talked about, however, are some of the “milder” symptoms that occur from periodic cannabis consumption.
While there is little out-and-out evidence currently available on the matter, many cannabis users report headaches after smoking weed. Is it possible for the two to be connected in a physiological sense?
In this article, we take a look at the facts in order to try and answer this question. Can cannabis cause headaches, or are other factors at play? Here is all you need to know and more.
The Weed Hangover
If you have ever been guilty of smoking a little more than you should have, you will probably understand exactly what we mean by the term ‘weed hangover.’ For those who are less in the know, let us explain.
Most of us have been there; a quiet night in with a few drinks turns into an over-indulgent party full of fun, pot, and far too much alcohol. You wake up the next day feeling like death rolled over, with a terrible headache after smoking weed and worse, an intense nausea from the alcohol.
Sound familiar? Well, there are many cannabis users out there that claim marijuana can do the same thing in terms of resulting in a wicked headache.
While not scientifically proven, many weed enthusiasts report telltale symptoms of a hangover the day after a heavy smoking session. And yes – along with things like fatigue, dry eyes, brain fog, and nausea, severe headaches are another common side effect that one might experience after a heavy night.
We now know from years of research that cannabis is a non-toxic plant. Unlike alcohol, which can be extremely dangerous (and even lethal in high doses), there has never been a reported case of overdose or death by consuming cannabis.
With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that these mythical weed hangovers are no match for the well-known hangover we get from drinking too much alcohol. The symptoms of a weed hangover are often so diluted in comparison, they are easy to overlook.
But, is it possible that weed DOES, in fact, cause a migraine? Or to a less severe extent, does it make physiological sense to get a headache after weed?
Weed Headaches: The Myth Behind Cannabis and Dehydration
A quick Internet search into cannabis and headaches will bring up a long list of claims from cannabis users and those who disagree with the bud, stating it is a dehydrating substance.
It is indeed a well-known fact that one of the critical causes of headaches is dehydration. Along with a variety of harmful side effects, you can expect a whopping headache if you neglect to drink water.
While science has not disproved the claims that cannabis dehydrates the body, neither is there a single scientific study that supports such a claim. Many people attribute dry mouth, or ‘cotton mouth’ to dehydration, however this is not true. Studies have shown that actually, it is all to do with saliva and the way that cannabis interacts with the body – namely the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
So with the dehydration myth busted, what else is there to explore when it comes to marijuana and headaches, also known as a weed headache?
The Facts About Cannabis and Headaches
Among the misinformed claims that cannabis can bring about a killer headache, are the many studies done on marijuana as an effective treatment for headaches and migraines.
A study published as recently as 2016 showed that across 121 adult migraine sufferers, almost 40% reported positive effects from marijuana use. Here are some of the published statistics:
- The average number of migraines reduced from 10.4 per month to 4.6
- Approximately 85% of the participants reported having fewer migraines per month using weed.
- Only 12% of the 12 participants stated they saw no change in the frequency of their migraines.
In an even more recent study published in 2017, researchers claimed that cannabinoids are just as suitable to treating migraines as prophylaxis, along with other potentially addictive and harmful pharmaceuticals.
What Can You Do To Combat A Headache Caused By Weed?
While there is no evidence for the argument that cannabis itself brings about headaches, it is possible that other factors related to smoking weed can contribute. Whether you are out in the sunshine enjoying a few smokes with your friends or having a heavy smoking session inside, there are a few aspects to consider if you suffer from these headaches.
If you are going to be smoking outside enjoying the summer, remember to drink plenty of water before, during and after smoking. While there may not be evidence of cannabis causing headaches, there is plenty of scientific backup for the sun causing dehydration, which we know brings on headaches. Keeping on top of your fluid intake and giving yourself breaks in the shade should help combat those pesky brain pains.
The same rule is applicable if you are getting high indoors, as it can be so easy to forget to drink! It might sound stupid, but if you are enjoying your smoke, the last thing on your mind is likely to stay hydrated! Keeping water or fruit juice next to you will serve as a visual reminder for those occasions where you are too stoned to care!
There are of course a few other tips and trick, such as avoiding salty foods (but this may be easier said than done once the munchies kick in!), and ensuring that you don’t overdo it.
Smoking too much cannabis is the main reason for those ‘weed hangover’ symptoms, headaches included. While marijuana isn’t believed to cause any harm, it can be very unpleasant when over consumed, so be mindful of this.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana and Headaches
In order to answer the question, “Why does my head hurt when I smoke weed?” – well, the answer isn’t entirely down to cannabis. Headaches can occur as a result of a variety of things, and too much weed can undoubtedly be one of them. However, it is not the sole reason behind headaches.
Using common sense when enjoying weed will usually be enough to see off any headaches; perhaps a particular strain doesn’t agree with you, or maybe you haven’t drank enough that day and you’re now making your way through a big bag of salty chips!
What we categorically know is that weed does not cause dehydration, nor is there any scientific proof that you can get a headache after weed. So for those who are concerned about headaches after smoking a joint, perhaps consider what other factors might be at play!