Mean green
January 31, 2007 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I think that marijuana may be giving me headaches, but I'm really not sure.

My health history: I never get headaches. I never take any type of medication (Tylenol, Advil, etc.), and I am a vegetarian. I also smoke a lot of marijuana.

I've been using, daily, for maybe 4 or 5 months, and it has never interfered with my life negatively, and in fact has been more of a boon than anything, especially in the creative work that I do (we're talking maybe one joint or less per day).


I started getting headaches about two weeks ago, and they have been prolonged, lasting two, three and four days at a time. Now, I feel like I have intermittent headaches throughout the day, with some lasting for the duration of the day. I tried to connect the headaches to something--change in diet, stress, environment--but was unable to detect anything in particular that had changed. Everything has been steady, for months. Sometimes they disappear for a day, only to return the next.

I have no reason to suspect that my marijuana use is causing these headaches--which are more dull, foggy aches rather than full-blown throbbing migranes--but I have to ask myself, is it a factor?

Everyone I know who uses marijuana at the same frequency as me has said that they have never experienced this kind of side-effect.

So, could it be the marijuana? Anecdotal answers are fine, and so are more scientific answers. Also, natural headache remedies would be welcome, too :)

I'll add one other bit here: about one week ago I found out that I have a small cavity, though my teeth are giving me hardly any pain or discomfort at all, and I hardly notice it. I'm having the cavity filled next week. I suppose it could be that, but something seems to indicate otherwise.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (28 answers total)
Back when I used to partake of recreational herbs and spices I would occasionally get headaches from said substances. As near as I could tell it was usually either due to smoking low-quality goods or from going more than a day without. I'm not being preachy when I say that this is why I eventually stopped smoking.

My teeth have given me similar headaches though, so it might be either one or both.
posted by lekvar at 11:42 AM on January 31, 2007

Well, who knew that there was an International Headache Society? Turns out there is, and one of their classifications of headache is 8.1.7, Cannabis-Induced Headache. So, yeah, looks like it could be the mean green.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:44 AM on January 31, 2007

What about stopping weed for a week and checking if the headaches stop?
posted by jchgf at 11:46 AM on January 31, 2007

It could be, but you can check by stopping smoking for a while and seeing what happens to the headaches. Since the mj isn't a problem, that won't be a problem.
posted by OmieWise at 11:46 AM on January 31, 2007

Stop smoking for a few weeks.
posted by edgeways at 11:47 AM on January 31, 2007

double snap, sheesh
posted by edgeways at 11:47 AM on January 31, 2007

Stopping smoking now won't do you any good in terms of figuring out what caused the headaches - get the cavity filled and give it a few days after that for your mouth to feel better. If you still have headaches, then quitting (at least temporarily) would make sense.

OTOH, you could quit now, wait a few weeks after the cavity is filled (or until the headaches stop), then reintroduce the marijuana and watch to see if headaches come back. The point is just that, if you want to know what's causing them, you have to fix one potential problem at a time.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 12:00 PM on January 31, 2007

It could be dehydration, or you could be allergic to something. You could be having sinus problems. Or, it could be the weed. If I were having continuous headaches for 3 weeks, I'd talk to a doctor.
posted by muddgirl at 12:01 PM on January 31, 2007

I have certainly experienced ganj-related headaches. - usually while or after coming down, usually when i'm smoking a lot.

I would definitely suggest relenting a bit just to check your sober baseline status. I would also suggest exploring vaporization - the crash is generally much less harsh.
posted by gnutron at 12:03 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Could you be getting dehydrated? In my region of the country, it has been much colder the last couple weeks which caused my forced air heating system to much more active. This always leads to me having to drink more water to re-hydrate myself. I've not had headaches, but aren't headaches a possible indicator of severe dehydration?
posted by JigSawMan at 12:06 PM on January 31, 2007

Are you sure it's not a tooomah?
posted by Sassyfras at 12:20 PM on January 31, 2007

Did you change strains? I find sometimes - I mean, my friends find sometimes - that changing strains can cause headaches, particularly if you switch to something lower-grade.
posted by andifsohow at 12:25 PM on January 31, 2007

Acquire some mushrooms
posted by prostyle at 12:39 PM on January 31, 2007

It may be the weed, but as I just TODAY got some dental work done I've got a splitting headache from it. Teeth are the expressway to head pain.

But yeah, get the tooth fixed and schedule a physical with your doctor. It seems that you may have reservations against it, but consider taking some Advil/Ibuprofen.
posted by unixrat at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2007

I get headaches when I (to echo the above) get dehydrated, but I also get them from some commercial pot. I assume that it's either treated with some sort of chemicals (pesticides, etc.) or that it might be a lesser high, but it gives me the whangers. (I also get whangers from perfume/cologne and too much cigarette smoke).
Drink more water, smoke better pot, get your cavity filled. Of course, those are goals everyone should have without being told, right?
posted by klangklangston at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007

My father is a very... enthusiastic pot smoker. Every time he tried to eat healthy in conjunction with pot, he got horrible headaches. When he gave into the "munchies" thing, he did far better.

He attributed it to the pot knocking his blood sugar lower or some such, but then again, he attributes fluoride in the water to government mind control, so grain of salt...
posted by Gucky at 1:45 PM on January 31, 2007

I would not attribute headaches to a small cavity (although once when I was getting serious earaches and headaches, they went away once the dentist delt with a massive cavity in an upper tooth at the rear of my jaw).

klangklangston, tell us more about this "commercial pot" -- what's the brand name? What store is it that sells such a thing? Or are you really reffering to something else (like street purchases)?

posted by Rash at 2:04 PM on January 31, 2007

Stop using. If the headaches go away, there's your answer.

Infact, just stop using.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:17 PM on January 31, 2007

Grow your own. It's the only way to assure quality control.
posted by flabdablet at 3:19 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

As a guy who had headaches every day for 2.5 years I'll say this: Any neurologist will tell you that sudden onset headaches in anyone older than 18 is a good reason to get an MRI. Give up the pot for 2-3 weeks to make sure that isn't causing the headaches - but if they don't go away, get your head scanned. There are tons of reasons people all of a sudden start getting headaches. Most of them are innocuous, but some of them are really bad. It's important to rule the bad stuff out.
posted by crapples at 3:34 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

You could also try a different kind. Maybe the stuff you got isn't so good.
posted by trbrts at 4:41 PM on January 31, 2007

I second the suggestion to try vaporization.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:49 PM on January 31, 2007

trbrts beat me to it -- bad pot gives me a headache, not good stuff. fire your dealer.

gawd i luv the green . . . askme, that is
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:25 PM on January 31, 2007

Well, smoking anything isn't good for you (in the carcinogens sense), and I've gotten headaches from da green before.

BUT, my guess is you're simply dehydrated. Weed will make you pee out all your precious water. Years ago, a friend of mine told me that virtually all headaches are caused by dehydration. And he told me advice that I've been using for years: whenever you get a headache, drink water. Lots of it. Not soda or tea or anything else, but water, as much as you can get down. Give it 15 minutes or so and Poof! Headache will go away.

Whaddyaknow, my buddy's right. In the past 6 years or so, if I get a headache I do this and it goes away.
posted by zardoz at 2:21 AM on February 1, 2007

"klangklangston, tell us more about this "commercial pot" -- what's the brand name? What store is it that sells such a thing? Or are you really reffering to something else (like street purchases)?"

I'm refering to the oft-grubby and compressed commercial grade pot perhaps unfairly called Mexican Ditch Weed around here, as opposed to the small-batch or homegrown varieties. There definitely are several grades of commercial, but when you get flattened buds and lots of seeds for a Blue Light Special price, that's the commersh.
posted by klangklangston at 6:11 AM on February 1, 2007

I have had similar experiences and found that drinking lots of water helped. Good luck.
posted by terrapin at 7:59 AM on February 1, 2007

flattened buds and lots of seeds for a Blue Light Special price

Perish the thought!
posted by ludwig_van at 8:04 AM on February 1, 2007

Well, smoking anything isn't good for you (in the carcinogens sense)

Not necessarily true. Somewhat extensive study of marijuana use has revealed no link to cancers, and only the most marginal link to respiratory diseases. There are other health considerations related to long-term, very heavy use -- mostly having to do with depression and mood -- but the best evidence says that "smoking" is not the problem with pot.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:57 AM on February 4, 2007

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