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Studies Claim Medical Cannabis Effective For Treating Migraines

cannabis headache
Written by Corre Addam

Medical cannabis could be a more natural and effective alternative to strong pharmaceutical drugs for those suffering from regular migraines and cluster headaches

A study published in the journal, Pharmacotherapy, aims to show that people suffering chronically from headaches could control their condition by using the right type, and amount, of medical cannabis.

The study, entitled, “Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population,” sets out the study objective as follows: “No clinical trials are currently available that demonstrate the effects of marijuana on patients with migraine headache; however, the potential effects of cannabinoids on serotonin in the central nervous system indicate that marijuana may be a therapeutic alternative. Thus, the objective of this study was to describe the effects of medical marijuana on the monthly frequency of migraine headache.”

The study, carried out senior author Laura Borgelt, Pharm.D., F.C.C.P, looked at 120 people who have been diagnosed with migraines, who were treated with medical marijuana between January 2010 and September 2014. The study found that in those subjects cluster headaches and migraines reduced from 10 to less than 5 per month.

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Many long years have passed for people who suffer from debilitating migraines. Many of them claim that medical cannabis eased their suffering, but this study is the first of its kind to offer more substantial information for patients and health professionals on the subject.

Even though medical cannabis is legal in more than 20 states across America, the study did note that this is not the solution for all migraine sufferers. The study pointed out that there were 15 subjects who experienced no easing of their pain as a result of taking cannabis, while 3 people said that taking cannabis made their headache even worse.

According to Borgelt, “There was a substantial improvement for patients in their ability to function and feel better. Like any drug, marijuana has potential benefits and potential risks. It’s important for people to be aware that using medical marijuana can also have adverse effects.”

The conclusion of the study speaks for itself though, stating, ”The frequency of migraine headache was decreased with medical marijuana use. Prospective studies should be conducted to explore a cause-and-effect relationship and the use of different strains, formulations, and doses of marijuana to better understand the effects of medical marijuana on migraine headache treatment and prophylaxis.”

In an even more recent study, presented at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Amsterdam recently, it was claimed that cannabinoids are just as suitable as a prophylaxis for migraine attacks as other pharmaceutical treatments.

A research team led by Dr Maria Nicolodi investigated the suitability of cannabinoids as a prophylaxis for migraine and in the acute treatment of migraines and cluster headaches. This was no easy task as the researchers had to identify the dosage required to effectively treat the subjects. When they did, they tested it on 48 chronic migraine sufferers, noting that at least 200mg of THC/CBD needed to be taken for any relief to be felt. When that dose was administered, pain dropped by a substantial 55 percent in the test subjects.

The same study had a phase 2, in which 79 chronic migraine patients were given a daily dose of either 25mg of amitriptyline – a tricyclic antidepressant commonly used to treat migraine – or 200mg of the THC-CBD combination for a period of three months.

The results of this experiment were completing too as the TCH/CBD combination yielded slightly better results than amitriptyline (40.1 percent) with a 40.4 percent reduction in attacks, the severity and number of cluster headache attacks only fell slightly.

The conclusion of this study notes, “We were able to demonstrate that cannabinoids are an alternative to established treatments in migraine prevention. That said, they are only suited for use in the acute treatment of cluster headaches in patients with a history of migraine from childhood on.”

There’s no doubt that the theory that medical cannabis helps many people who suffer from migraine headaches is gaining momentum, as the two studies here highlight. It is hoped that far more research, and clinical trials will be carried out, in the hope that thousands of migraine sufferers could use medical cannabis as their go to when the headaches strike.

[Image credit: Pixabay]

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About the author

Corre Addam

Addam spends the lion's share of his day fixated on his computer screen. When he isn't in front of his computer, you'll most likely find him editing or researching his next fascinating article on his smartphone or tablet. When he manages to pull himself away from technology, you'll find him chilling hard somewhere, probably under a tree with an ice-cold Iced-tea, pondering life...