Smoking Cannabis Found To Reduce Migraine Pain By 50%
Anyone that has ever had to suffer through bouts of chronic migraines will tell you that these types of pain attacks are no joke.
Migraines can often be so painful that they induce nausea, and for the millions of people with this condition, it can be so bad that sick leaves are necessary. Migraines hamper productivity but more importantly, seriously affect peoples’ quality of life.
Unfortunately, far too many people reach out for over-the-counter painkillers to treat headaches and migraines. When it gets worse, patients may need prescription drugs that may work but are addicting and have harmful side effects.
So why aren’t more people turning to cannabis?
A new study has just revealed that smoking cannabis can cut migraine pain by as much as half. That’s more than what conventional painkillers can claim to do. The study, published in the Journal of Pain, involved 1,300 participants to rate the severity of their pain before and after consuming pot. The result? A whopping 47.3% decrease in severity of headaches and 49.6% drop in migraine pain.
“We were motivated to do this study because a substantial number of people say they use cannabis for headache and migraine, but surprisingly few studies had addressed the topic,” explains Dr. Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D., who led the study.
In fact, conventional headache medications tend to worsen the headaches over time especially if patients consume too much of them. But based on the study, there are no similar results observed when patients use cannabis. This is why the researchers noted the participants tend to consume more doses of cannabis over time though the only side effect was possibly developing a tolerance.
“I suspect there are some slight overestimates of effectiveness,” Dr. Cuttler says. “My hope is that this research will motivate researchers to take on the difficult work of conducting placebo-controlled trials. In the meantime, this at least gives medical cannabis patients and their doctors a little more information about what they might expect from using cannabis to manage these conditions.”
Another study from 2016 took place in Colorado. Researchers assessed 121 patients with migraines, who were given medicinal cannabis. They found that more than 85% of the patients reported reductions in the frequency of their migraines, or a drop to 5 from 10 migraine attacks, on average, each month.
Cannabis More Effective Than Prescription Drugs For Migraine Pain
Patients who already use cannabis for migraines will tell you that it certainly works better than prescription drugs.
But we don’t only have anecdotal evidence to rely on – studies verify these results too.
A 2017 study involving 127 subjects suffering from cluster headaches and chronic migraines were given cannabis based drugs containing both THC and CBD. In the first phase of the study, patients with acute and chronic migraines were given different quantities of THC and CBD, and they found that those who consumed 200mg doses everyday for 3 months reported 55% less pain.
In the second phase of the study, participants who had cluster headaches and chronic migraines were given either the THC-CBD medication, or 25mg of an antidepressant called amitriptyline which is commonly used for migraine treatment. Those with cluster headaches who were given either cannabis-based drugs or 80mg of verapamil, a calcium channel blocker commonly prescribed for treating cluster headaches. They found that the THC-CBD combination drug was more effective in reducing migraine attack frequency, and it was also better at decreasing the severity of migraine pain.
Why Cannabis Works For Migraines
Through the many studies depicting cannabis’ success in treating migraines, it is clear that the plant works in many different neurological pathways in the brain as well as in the nervous system and the nerves located outside the brain and in the spinal cord.
It seems that in certain pathways, cannabinoids activate the same receptors and circuits that most pharmaceutical migraine drugs target. But THC and other cannabinoids are proven to be helpful in reducing pain stimulation within the brainstem, which plays an important role in the onset of a migraine attack (or not). Scientists also suspect that it plays a role in the perception and transmission of pain.
No matter which way you look at it, we’re only starting to learn how exactly cannabis does wonders in migraine treatment. But the truth of the matter is that it does work, with no side effects.