Migraine Headaches, Depression, and Bulimia
by Miriam White

I suffer from the following serious medical conditions: Severe and debilitating classic and common migraine headaches, recurring depression and bulimia. I have suffered from severe migraine headaches since I was very young (around 5 years old). I was diagnosed by a neurologist as having both classic migraines (these typically occur monthly around menstrual cycle) and common migraines (these typically occur daily). My condition has been so severe and serious that it has caused countless hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

The pain is so intense from a classic migraine that when I am having an attack, suicide seems the only remedy. The only thing I can compare a classic migraine attack to is natural childbirth; they are both that intense and debilitating. Typically, in a classic migraine attack, I lose vision in one or both eyes, am extremely sensitive to any light or sound, and I also experience severe nausea and vomiting. There is nothing I can do to subside the pain during a classic migraine attack other than sit face down on the cold bathroom floor, squeezing my head together with all my might until I pass out.

I have been undergoing traditional medical treatment for this condition since childhood, and have subsequently been under the care of countless doctors, neurologists, and psychologists. Doctors "helped me" by prescribing heavy does of pharmaceutical drugs. I have been prescribed, and have taken daily, every drug possible for the treatment of migraines. None of the conventional drugs provided me with relief and I regularly lost a couple of days per month to classic migraine attacks; it became almost impossible for the to work and live a productive life.

During my teenage years, I developed the eating disorder bulimia. For years I lived the typical binge/purge lifestyle that has now resulted in severe damage to my teeth and stomach. I currently need several root canals and extractions, but am unable to afford this; therefore I must live with the nagging tooth pain. My stomach has suffered so much damage from abuse of laxatives and the stresses of over-eating that it is extremely difficult for me to hold down meals. I am constantly nauseous and my gag reflex causes me to vomit much of what I eat. I further have sharp pains in my stomach that typically cause me to buckle over and temporarily lose focus of what I am doing.

I further suffer from severe reoccurring depression, resulting from years of trying to live with a serious illness, plus the stresses of being a single parent head of household living at poverty level.

I believe cannabis to be the only medicine keeping me alive, functioning, and able to care for my child and myself. Cannabis is the only medicine which provides relief from my migraine headaches. Cannabis works effectively to alleviate the severe pain and nausea during a migraine attack. When used over long periods of time, cannabis serves as an effective preventative medicine for the migraine attacks. Without cannabis I would be unable to prevent the daily common migraines and the monthly classic migraine attacks. I would thus be vulnerable to attacks at a high frequency. With uncontrollable migraine attacks I would be unable to hold down a job, and thus support myself, much less my young son. Without medical cannabis, I would also be forced to medicate with expensive, highly addictive, and non-effective prescription drugs, or I would have to find cannabis at another location such as a seedy street comer.

There is no alternative to cannabis for the effective treatment of my medical condition because I have tried the following legal alternatives to cannabis and have found them to be ineffective or to result in intolerable side effects: By the time I was 21, 1 was prescribed and was taking heavy-duty prescription drugs including antidepressants, controlled narcotics, tranquilizers, and strong drugs that required needles. None of the pharmaceutical drugs provided me adequate relief and the side effects are unreasonable and intolerable. Prescription drugs that I have used for my migraines include:

(A) Beta-adrenergic-blocking drugs (beta-blockers) such as Inderal and Tenonnin. These drugs made me feel groggy and overdrugged. I actually experienced more migraine attacks when taking these medications. I further began having panic attacks while on these medications.

.(B) Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. I took these drugs multiple times daily. They did help me somewhat with the daily headaches, but were completely ineffective at preventing or alleviating a classic migraine attack.

(C) Vasoconstrictor Drugs such as Cafergot, Wigraine, Ergostat and Sumatriptan. Although these medications helped with daily headaches, they were virtually useless during classic migraine attacks.

(D) Controlled narcotics such as Fiorinal. I took this drug daily. At first the Fiorinal worked to relieve the pain of a classic migraine attack. Unfortunately, I quickly gained a tolerance to the drug, and found it both addictive and ineffective for pain after prolonged use.

(E) Sumatriptan (this is injected). This drug bruised me horribly and scarred me both physically and emotionally because of the needles. This drug required me to "shoot up" much like a heroin junkie. This medication did not provide me any relief during a migraine attack. The medication was also difficult to administer to myself and very costly (with the needles, kits, and disposal).

(F) Opioid analgesics (Stadol-NS). This was a nasal spray that knocked me out but did nothing to relieve the pain. Instead of providing relief, this drug made me feel too "drugged up," while the nagging, pulsating pain continued during this zombielike state. Furthermore, this drug wiped me out so completely that I felt I had to recover more from the side effects of the drug, than from the actual migraine.

(G) Antidepressants such as Zoloft and Amitriptyline. For some migraine patients it is believed that heavy doses of antidepressants taken for many years will work to prevent migraine headaches. I was prescribed heavy doses of antidepressants for many years under this theory. The antidepressants did nothing to prevent my migraine attacks. I still lived with daily pain, and monthly debilitating classic migraines. The antidepressants also had me feeling more confused and disoriented in my daily routine. I felt groggy, over-drugged, and also experienced some short term memory loss.

(H) Tranquilizers such and Xanax and Valium. I began taking Xanax daily to help me relax and hopefully prevent migraine attacks. Xanax is addictive and is also a costly habit. I quickly built up tolerance to Xanax, as I was taking the drug several times a day with no relief. Xanax was not helping me relax, nor was it working to fight off the attacks.

(I) Oral dronabinol (Marinol). I have even tried Marinol and found it ineffective in relieving the pain or in preventing the migraine attacks. One major problem with all of the oral medications is that during a migraine attack, I am extremely nauseous and typically unable to keep anything down, including water. It is impossible for me to take medications orally during a migraine attack. Furthermore, the oral medications, including Marinol, would take from 20 minutes to an hour to take effect. Cannabis, through smoking or vaporization, provides immediate relief, as the medical effect is instantaneous.