Results from a study suggest using cannabis medicinally for migraine relief too often may also be associated with “rebound” headaches.
This may not just apply to cannabis. According to the USA’s MigraineTrust, the use of acute pain-relief medicine more than two or three times a week or more than 10 days each month can trigger these, which are also known as ‘medication-overuse headaches’ (MOH).
Using painkillers when needed is considered a sensible strategy when there are only a couple of headaches a month, but it seems painkillers can often become part of the problem if used more frequently.
But back to cannabis specifically – study author and headache specialist Niushen Zhang, M.D. of Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California says her research team found migraine sufferers using cannabis had significantly increased odds of also having medication overuse headache.
The findings were based on the records of 368 chronic migraine sufferers, i.e. those experiencing 15 or more headache days a month. 150 of the group were using cannabis and those using it were six times more likely to experience rebound headache than those who did not.
An article on the research notes people who were using opioids were also more likely to use cannabis and that the study was retrospective; requiring longitudinal studies to better explore cause and effect of cannabis use and medication overuse headache in patients with chronic migraine. The article doesn’t mention the frequency of usage by the cannabis group.
The preliminary study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 73rd Annual Meeting, occurring virtually in April.
A survey last year indicated 30 percent of migraine sufferers in the U.S. and Canada, also known as “migraineurs”, have used cannabis to relieve migraine pain. Among those who did, 82% found it useful. Results from a clinical trial published in 2017 suggest a combination of THC and CBD was effective in treating migraines and cluster headaches in patients with a history of migraine starting in childhood.
A Washington State University study found inhaled cannabis may reduce the intensity of headaches and migraines. An interesting aspect of that research is it suggests cannabinoids other than THC, terpenes or flavonoids may play an important role in headache and migraine relief.