Apr 29, 2016 5:30 PM

Medical Marijuana for Migraines: Is It Helpful and How Does It Work?

New studies show that using medical marijuana for migraines can be very helpful. Though it has already been used by thousands of patients to treat this disease, only recently the scientists have managed to prove its effectiveness scientifically.

The Study

The recent study of Colorado University Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences shows that using cannabis helps migraine patients. Let us recall that back in 2005, Davis L. Bearman, a physician and medical marijuana expert, wrote that there had been thousands of patients with migraines who benefited from marijuana use. And now his words have scientific evidence. The Colorado experts analyzed the reports of 121 adult migraine sufferers and found out that the average number of migraines is 10.4 per month. After the cannabis treatment recommended by their doctors, this number declined to 4.6 per month. Moreover, after the marijuana treatment, 85 percent of respondents reported having fewer migraine headaches per month, while 12 percent said that the frequency of migraines did not change, and only about 2 percent claimed that the frequency of migraine headaches had increased. The researchers state that almost 40 percent of participants reported positive effects. Among them, 19.8 percent stated that cannabis use helped prevent migraines, and 11.6 percent claimed that it helped stop the migraines completely.


The scientists also commented on the methods of cannabis treatment, mentioning that inhalation provided the patients with the fastest effects. This method is more likely to stop migraine headaches. Marijuana-infused edibles, however, take longer to provide patients with pain relief and are more likely to make them experience sleepiness and intense euphoria. Negative side effects of marijuana-infused edibles were experienced by 11.6 percent of respondents. It is worth mentioning that about 50 percent of people in the study were using prescription migraine drugs besides cannabis to fight their illness.


While the statistics show that cannabis is effective for migraine treatment, much remains to be done. Currently, the researchers cannot explain the way cannabis impacts migraine headaches, mostly due to the complexity of this disease itself. Some scientists suppose that migraine headaches are connected with the cannabinoid receptors in our brain and impact such neurotransmitter as serotonin. Cannabis, in turn, affects the cannabinoid receptors, while its main active component, THC, influences the serotonin levels and thus makes it helpful for migraine treatment. However, this supposition is still under investigation.


The Colorado scientists say that the positive results of the study should not make patients think that cannabis is the ultimate treatment for their migraine headaches. They advise not to self-medicate but turn to health care experts.

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