A systematic review of the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana in migraine treatment has provided some interesting and encouraging results.
Migraine affects an estimated more than 10% of people worldwide. It’s a condition that goes well beyond a “normal” headache and can be debilitating. Among the conventional medications used to treat migraine are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Where these don’t work, triptans, gepants and ditans may be prescribed.
An unconventional treatment is medical marijuana. We’ve reported on various studies over the years suggesting cannabis may offer migraine relief or prevention and help treat other types of headaches as well. A lot of the evidence is anecdotal, but researchers are increasingly looking at more scientific approaches to establishing the credibility of cannabis in this application.
A group of researchers from the California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences & Psychology decided to take a very deep dive into related published literature. They initially started out with a total of 3500 articles as a result of searches on related keywords from various databases, including PubMed, Google Scholar and Science Direct.
After further filtering for duplicates, relevancy and other assessments; they wound up with a total of only nine articles for inclusion in the analysis – and even those were subjected to further quality checks. But the results of their efforts were pretty positive.
“All the studies showed encouraging findings on the therapeutic effects of medicinal marijuana in migraine treatment,” the researchers concluded. “Additionally, medical marijuana is well-tolerated with fewer side effects and is safe to use in migraine patients.”
The researchers recommend more studies delving into dosage, frequency, administration and also the inclusion of other population age groups; plus clinical trials with long-term follow-up to better establish the efficacy and safety profile of marijuana.
Detail of the full review and studies that made the final cut have been published in the journal Cureous, which is part of Springer Nature.
Just on a related note – while there have been substantial self-reported positive results from the use of cannabis in treating and managing headaches; using it too often may also be associated with “rebound” headaches. But this may also apply to other migraine/headache medications.