Next time you find yourself in dealing with a painful migraine, you may have another option besides your typical prescription medication. A new study has revealed that marijuana may be highly effective in both treating and preventing migraines for chronic patients.
The research study was presented at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in June. The conclusions of the study asserted that chronic sufferers of both migraines and cluster headaches reported less pain and less headaches altogether when taking a daily dose of a cannabis compound, as opposed to a typically prescribed migraine medication.
Migraines are a fairly common affliction – over 3 million people suffer from chronic migraines in the United States alone. Cluster headaches, on the other hand, are less common but can be far more painful than a migraine. Additionally, there are several prescription medications available to treat migraines, but there are far fewer treatments for patients with cluster headaches.
The study sought to solve this problem by exploring the effects of varying doses of marijuana on patients with either ailment. The first phase of the study involved testing 48 chronic migraine patients with a cannabis compound, containing 19 percent THC and nine percent CBD. Patients first received an oral dose of 10mg of this compound followed by incrementally higher doses. The researchers found that any dose under 100mg proved ineffective at alleviating the patients’ symptoms. However, a dose of 200mg reduced migraine pain by 55 percent.
Next, in the second phase of the study, 79 patients were given either 25mg of amitriptyline, a common antidepressant and treatment for migraines, or a 200mg dose of the cannabis compound tested in phase one. The patients took their prescribed dosages each day over a period of three months. At the end of this test period, the patients who had received the cannabis treatment reported a slightly higher decrease in migraine attacks than those who had received the amitriptyline.
The cannabis treatment did, however, have a more notable effect on reducing pain. Migraine patients reported that this treatment had reduced their migraine pain by an average 43.5 percent. Interestingly, cluster headache patients reported similar results in pain reduction, but only those patients who had been suffering from cluster headaches since childhood.
Similar research was published early last year suggesting much of the same. The Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science at the University of Colorado conducted a study which compared the effects of both inhaled and ingested marijuana on migraine patients. The results showed that 85 percent of patients reported fewer migraines per month using cannabis as a treatment.
Additionally, inhalation proved to be the most effective method of “killing” a migraine after it started. Edible consumption was still effective as a preventative measure, but patients reported more negative side effects such as drowsiness and over stimulation. Similarly, when consumed as an edible, marijuana acted slower in alleviating migraine pain.
Researchers continue to be optimistic about the use of medical marijuana not just for the treatment of migraines but also for a growing list of other debilitating diseases. These studies aid in proving the numerous health benefits of marijuana consumption and are paving the road forward to more accessible treatment for patients.