The use of cannabis has been associated with a decrease in migraine headache frequency; offering some hope to the many sufferers of what can often be a debilitating condition.
Over the years there’s been a significant number of anecdotal reports regarding the effectiveness of cannabis on alleviating or even avoiding migraine headaches.
While the effects of cannabinoids on serotonin has indicated cannabis may be a therapeutic alternative, to date no clinical trials have been performed to demonstrate the effects of marijuana on patients with migraine headaches.
Researchers at the University of Colorado recently performed a retrospective chart review of 121 adults diagnosed with migraine between January 2010 and September 2014 who were recommended medical marijuana treatment by a physician.
Their study found migraine headache frequency decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month with the use of medicinal cannabis.
Positive effects were reported in 48 patients (39.7%), the most common being the prevention of migraine headache with decreased frequency (24 patients [19.8%]) and aborted migraine headache (14 patients [11.6%]).
11.6% of patients described negative effects, such as somnolence and difficulty in determining dose. One patient experienced increased headaches. These negative effects were more common where cannabis in edible form was used.
The cessation of a migraine episode appeared to be most strongly tied to inhaled forms of marijuana; which is likely due to quick onset of action as opposed to slower acting edibles.
Much more work needs to be done to determine the how and when of administration.
“Further research should be performed to determine if there is a preferred delivery method, dose, and strain of medical marijuana for migraine HA therapy as well as the potential long-term effects of medical marijuana,” state the researchers.
The researchers raise many questions as a result of their work and their research article recommends a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial with a marijuana “washout period” prior to commencement. This would be a period in which subjects of the trial don’t receive treatment for the migraine headaches and effects of previous treatments are eliminated.
The researchers recommend such a study should provide standardized quantities and quality of medical marijuana while better tracking adherence to the regimen and its effects.
The research article, “Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population,” can be viewed in full here (PDF).