A new study treated 121 migraine patients with medical marijuana
Medical marijuana reduces the frequency of migraine headaches, scientists revealed.
A new study treated 121 migraine patients with cannabis – with 103 reporting a decrease in the number of migraines they suffered each month.
The participants’ average frequency dropped from 10.4 to 4.6 migraines each month.
The study is the first to link medical marijuana to a drop in migraine frequency, according to University of Colorado scientists.
Study author Dr Laura Borgelt said: ‘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 study examined patients diagnosed with migraines and treated with medical marijuana between January 2010 and September 2014.
The patients were being treated at Gedde Whole Health, a private medical practice that specializes in recommending marijuana for a variety of conditions.
Nearly two-thirds of the participants had a history of marijuana use at the time of their initial visit.
Several forms of cannabis were utilized in the study.
The scientists noted inhaled marijuana seemed to be the favorite for treating acute migraines.
Meanwhile, edible cannabis – which takes longer to impact the body – was found to prevent headaches.
The majority of the patients reported a significant drop in their monthly migraines.
However, 15 reported the same number and three saw an increase.
It is not yet known how exactly marijuana relieves migraines.
But, the scientists said cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body – including the brain, connective tissues and immune system.
Those receptors seem to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Furthermore, cannabinoids may also affect critical neurotransmitters – such as serotonin and dopamine.
Dr Borgelt said: ‘We believe serotonin plays a role in migraine headaches, but we are still working to discover the exact role of cannabinoids in this condition.’
While Dr Borgelt called the results ‘quite remarkable,’ she also stressed the need for more studies in the future.
The scientist recommends a study be conducted that is a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial – with a marijuana washout period to start.
The ideal study would require providing subjects with specific quantities and potency of medical cannabis – while tracking the migraines just like in prescription drug studies.
However, Dr Borgelt said such studies cannot currently be conducted because of federal anti-drug laws.
Dr Borgelt added: ‘If patients are considering medical marijuana they should speak to their health care provider and then follow up so we can track the impact of their overall treatment.
‘Open communication is necessary because we need to know how all of these treatments work together.’
The study was published in the journal Pharmacotherapy.