Migraine Frequency Reduced by Marijuana Use

A study suggests that medical marijuana can help those suffering from migraine by reducing the number of times these headaches occur.


Study author and professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Laura Borgelt, explains these findings, saying: “There was a substantial improvement for patients in their ability to function and feel better. Like any drug, marijuana has potential benefits and potential risks. It’s important for people to be aware that using medical marijuana can also have adverse effects. Any treatment decision should involve a conversation with their [healthcare] providers.”

The study collected data from 121 subjects who were suffering from migraine, where 103 of them found a reduction in the number of times these migraines occurred. 15 of these subjects said that the frequency of headaches remained the same, while three of them found it to have increased number of migraines.

Among the 103 people who noticed an improvement to their condition, the number of headaches they suffered from reduced from 10.6 to 4.6 headaches every month.

What the researchers also found was that most people used more than one type of marijuana, whether smoked, inhaled or even the edible type. Of these three types, people were more likely to use the inhaled variety for acute migraines, but chose the edible for prevention of headaches. It must be pointed out that half the subjects were also using prescription drugs for migraines during this study as well.

As for side effects with this form of treatment, 14 people experienced nausea, bad dreams and sleepiness during treatment. Also, there were more side effects with the use of edible marijuana than its other forms.

What the researchers admitted to was not knowing for sure how or why marijuana either worked or prevented the onset of migraines. Even the mechanisms of a migraine as a condition are not completely understood just yet. As for the results of the study, researchers were trying to find out why medical marijuana works as a treatment for migraines but couldn’t understand how it worked fully.

Despite the limitations in understanding, what they said was that there were several pathways that could help explain why marijuana works for patients with migraines. In other words, the problem of migraine has to do with cannabinoid receptors that influence important neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Certain compounds in marijuana might affect these receptors.

What Borgelt also mentions is that serotonin quite possible plays an important role in migraine headaches. In particular, THC, a compound in marijuana that is responsible for its psychological effects, might serotonin levels too.

Yet despite these positive findings, she also states that people should not attempt to self-medicate using marijuana.

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