Medical Cannabis for Migraine Pain
Migraines are the third-most prevalent condition worldwide. In the U.S., nearly 1 in 4 households have someone experiencing migraine pain. Marijuana is a potential solution for millions of people. Physicians have been treating migraines with medical cannabis for over centuries. Modern research concurs with the findings of medical cannabis‘s first pioneers.
History of Marijuana for Migraine Pain
Research shows that pounding, incapacitating head pain has been plaguing humans for thousands of years. Documents from the second millennium BCE indicate that cannabis preparations were used to treat migraines. Use is also noted in Persian texts from the 10th and 17th centuries.
Fast-forward to 1839, and the potent plant is mentioned again by notable physicians for relieving head discomfort. These medical indications are found throughout texts until 1937, when prohibition made it illegal.
Medical Cannabis May Reduce Frequency
The most recent study published in the American Journal of Managed Care on June 18, 2020, “Prolonged Medical Cannabis Use Reduces Migraine Frequency.” The study included 145 Israeli patients with migraines and a medical cannabis license. It found 89 of the respondents reported fewer migraines per month. Additionally, 95% of the patients noted improved sleep quality.
Researchers point out the two problems with the report. The cannabis plant has at least 545 known compounds, so it’s unknown if all, a few, or one of the phytochemicals is responsible for the difference. Also, scientists aren’t aware if the improvement in sleep caused the changes in frequency.
Overall, 60% of the 145 participants reported reductions.
The study’s authors concluded that,
“Migraine is classified as a pain condition. Mechanistically, endocannabinoids have been shown to have an inhibitory effect on serotonin receptors in vivo, which is shown to modulate pain and emetic responses.”
Shorten the Duration and Limit Intensity
Another positive study published in the Journal of Pain on May 1, 2020, “Short- and Long-Term Effects of Cannabis on Headache and Migraine,” found the duration and intensity of each attack decreased by nearly 50 percent following cannabis use. The study also found more relief was achieved with concentrates rather than flowers.
Marijuana Strains that Might Help with Migraine Pain
With a little more research, it will be an exact science. But right now, we can only suggest that a cultivar is better for some conditions than others.
Patients report success with these medical cannabis strains:
- OG Kush is a famous cultivar that’s potent and excellent for pain relief.
- Harlequin is a sativa-dominant strain that has less THC and more CBD to prevent anxiety.
- Purple Kush is the offspring of Hindu Kush and Purple Afghani with 17% THC that is excellent for inducing sleep.
- Northern Lights has around 18% THC, and users report a pleasant numbing response.
Yes, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of medical cannabis for migraine pain. However, the anecdotal data is more than sufficient to work with patients to find the right cannabinoid combination to reduce each attack’s frequency and duration, significantly improving the quality of life.