Worldwide interest in cannabis as a medical treatment has increased—but can it treat migraines? We know that 1 billion people suffer from migraines worldwide, and now we’re learning how cannabinoids could make a difference.
What are migraines?
Migraines are a specific type of headache, which can include debilitating symptoms like sensitivity to light and severe nausea. They’re associated with a range of comorbidities: stress, sleep issues, and even suicide.
We still don’t know what causes migraines. We do know that they’re associated with a range of societal and biological risk factors, including gender and socio-economic status, as well as cardiovascular and auto-immune disorders. Immediate triggers include things like alcohol, stress, and hormonal changes, among others.
While many mainstream migraine treatments are available, they don’t always achieve the desired result and may come with undesirable side effects. Current research shows that the most common migraine treatments are predominantly ineffective, and individuals often find it difficult to follow protocols properly. With mainstream treatments falling short, cannabis may be the key that people experiencing migraines have been looking for.
It’s not clear why cannabis is effective for migraine treatment. Some researchers speculate that a set of disorders which include migraines, fibromyalgia, and IBS may all be caused by deficiencies in the endocannabinoid system in the brain. Cannabis works to treat headaches by means of exogenous cannabinoids attaching to these same endocannabinoid receptors in the brain. If this theory is correct, it could offer a clue as to cannabis’ effect on treatment-resistant disorders.
One 2022 meta-analysis, which drew on 12 studies involving 1980 participants, found that after a month, medical cannabis reduced both the number of migraine days and the monthly frequency of such headaches. Adverse events were reported as mild compared to traditional pharmaceutical treatments. Dosing varied, and included CBD and THC drops, inhalation, topical application, and more.
Cannabis lessened the occurrence of migraine episodes and even prevented migraines completely for 11.6% of users. After a six-month treatment period, it significantly alleviated nausea and vomiting triggered by migraine attacks.
In a recent analysis, researchers at the University of Arizona found that medical cannabis was 51% more successful in alleviating migraines compared to other treatments. Unsurprisingly, it was easier for participants to be consistent with medical cannabis treatment versus using pharmaceuticals, thus increasing compliance and therefore effectiveness. Among individuals utilizing both non-cannabis treatments and cannabis therapy, medical cannabis demonstrated superior relief.
While new research on the therapeutic potential of cannabis for migraine management is encouraging, research is still lacking on how cannabis affects different types of migraines. Researchers are still looking into potential side effects, and studies thus far have been mostly observational.
Overall, the research on cannabis for the widespread issue of migraines is promising. It’s definitely something to get excited about. Medical research continues to make new discoveries on the use of cannabis for migraines, as more and more individuals look to cannabis for relief.
© Kanab Inc. – Kanab Inc. is a Toronto based cannabis retail company that honors the historical significance and uses of the cannabis plant across cultures and civilizations. Kanab has now opened its first cannabis dispensary at the intersection of Don Mills Road and York Mills Road in North York region of Toronto, Ontario (South of 401, West of 404 / Don Valley Parkway, and East of Leslie). For more info, please visit: kanab.ca