Article written by
Dipak HemrajHead of Research and Education
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Marijuana is often used as a remedy for headaches and migraines. However, it could also cause or worsen them. Fortunately, there are ways you can treat marijuana headaches and even prevent them from happening in the first place.
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What Causes Marijuana Headaches?
Marijuana headaches are usually caused by either a marijuana hangover or a marijuana withdrawal. The type of cannabis may also play a role in whether you experience headaches from using the substance.
After using weed or alcohol, you may wake up with symptoms of a hangover the next day. One of the possible symptoms of a weed hangover is a headache. As with alcohol, the cause of the headache may be dehydration, which can usually be mitigated by drinking water.
Withdrawal From Marijuana
If you suddenly stop using marijuana after heavy or prolonged use, you may experience a mild form of withdrawal, sometimes known as cannabis withdrawal syndrome. Withdrawal symptoms can involve headaches or migraines. One study found that 23% of people who went through cannabis withdrawal experienced headaches.
Withdrawal headaches are usually worse in the week after stopping using cannabis, and they generally drop in intensity around 10-20 days after ceasing use.
Stopping cannabis can also cause rebound headaches — also known as “medication overuse headaches” — in people who use cannabis as a treatment for headaches or migraines.
Types of Cannabis That Can Cause Headaches
When you smoke cannabis, the ash produced can make you cough. The combination of inhaling ash and coughing may trigger headaches. Smoking and vaping can also increase sinus headaches in some people
Although less common, it’s also possible to experience a headache after using CBD products.
Difference Between Hangovers from Weed and Alcohol
With a weed hangover, you may experience the following symptoms when you wake up:
- Brain fog
- Feeling groggy
- Feeling less alert
You may also experience headaches, dry eyes, dry mouth, tiredness and lethargy, nausea, and poor memory.
The symptoms of a hangover from alcohol are similar. With an alcohol hangover, you may experience severe nausea and vomiting, dehydration, headaches, poor memory, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and lightheadedness.
Despite the similar symptoms, alcohol and weed hangovers affect the body differently. A weed hangover is typically mild and more tolerable than an alcohol hangover. Weed hangovers also don’t affect the liver as alcohol does, and while cannabis is not a toxin, alcohol is.
The symptoms of a cannabis headache can depend on the type of headache you experience. Also, remember that if your headache is caused by a hangover or withdrawal from cannabis, you may also experience the associated symptoms.
Cannabis can trigger cluster headaches in some people. These headaches usually affect one side of the head, usually around the eye.
Migraine pain may be worsened or triggered after using cannabis. Aside from pain, other migraine symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, temporary vision loss, increased sensitivity to light, and seeing spots or flashes.
As mentioned, smoking or vaping cannabis can trigger sinus headaches. These are typically described as having pressure around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead.
Ways to Treat Marijuana Headaches
You can do a few things to treat headaches caused by marijuana. Ultimately what works for one person may not work for another. Sometimes, a combination of the following treatments is best.
Although cannabis doesn’t directly cause dehydration, dehydration is linked to headaches. Drinking a couple of glasses of water when you have a headache may help to relieve it.
Take Pain Relief
Over-the-counter medications can help relieve headaches. These can include aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen. If you choose to use medication, be sure to take the correct dose, and consult with a medical professional if you have any uncertainties.
Eating something is especially important if you wake up in the morning with a hangover after using cannabis. Focus on eating a nutritious breakfast with carbohydrates, protein, and a healthy fat source.
Caffeine can help to treat headaches. However, keep in mind that caffeine can worsen headaches in some people, so use small amounts and don’t overdo it.
Massage and Apply a Cold Compress
Massaging your head and temples can help to reduce headache pain. It may also help to apply a cold compress to your head.
Avoiding cannabis is the most straightforward way to prevent the associated headaches. Still, there are ways you may be able to prevent them from occurring if you want to continue using cannabis.
To prevent adverse health outcomes from using cannabis, such as a weed hangover which may include a headache, you could:
- Choose less concentrated strains: Choosing strains with a lower concentration of THC or using balanced THC-to-CBD cannabis products may help prevent headaches.
- Change the method of use: To prevent a weed hangover and the associated symptoms such as a headache, it may help to choose non-smoking cannabis ingestion methods since smoking and coughing can cause headaches.
- Reduce the frequency of cannabis use: If you experience headaches after using cannabis, you may wish to reduce the frequency of use. Avoid using cannabis every day or most days of the week.
- Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated is an important preventative measure for headaches, as well as a treatment for them. Make sure to drink water before, during, and after using cannabis.
- Avoid mixing products: Avoid mixing alcohol with cannabis. This can help to avoid the hangover and headache that either can cause.
The Bottom Line
While some people use medical cannabis for headache and migraine relief, others may experience headaches due to coughing from inhaling cannabis ash, withdrawal after chronic and heavy use, or as a symptom of a hangover the day after using cannabis.
To treat headaches, focus on drinking water and eating food, massaging your temples and applying a cool compress to your head, and taking over-the-counter medication if needed. You may also be able to prevent headaches from occurring by reducing the frequency of use and changing how you consume cannabis.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for a weed headache to go away?
The length of the weed headache likely depends on what is causing the headache. If it’s caused by marijuana withdrawal, studies show that it can last up to 20 days. If a hangover causes a headache, it may go away within 24 hours.
Can inhaling weed give you a headache?
Although much of the evidence is based on anecdotal claims, it is thought that inhaling weed, such as smoking or vaping it, can give you a headache, especially when coughing due to ash.