Investigators at the University of Colorado, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences retrospectively assessed cannabis’ effects on monthly migraine headache frequency in a group of 121 adults. Study participants had a primary diagnosis of migraine headache, had been recommended cannabis by a physician for migraine treatment, and had participated in at least one follow up medical visit.
Authors reported that 85 percent of subjects reported a decrease in migraine frequency and 12 percent indicated that the use of cannabis prior to migraine onset would abort headaches.
“Migraine headache frequency decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month with the use of medical marijuana,” researchers concluded. “Further research should be performed to determine if there is a preferred delivery method, dose, and strain of medical marijuana for migraine headache therapy as well as potential long-term effects of medical marijuana.”
Although case reports have previously documented the effect of cannabinoids for migraine relief, no prospective trials have yet to evaluate cannabis use in migraine patients. Nonetheless, scientists for some time have theorized that cannabinoids may play a role in migraine regulation. Writing in 2007 in the European Journal of Critical Pharmacology, Italian researchers reported that patients with chronic migraines possessed significantly lower levels of the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) in their platelets compared to age-matched controls. “These data support the potential involvement of a dysfunctioning of the endocannabinoid and serotonergic systems in the pathology of chronic migraine and medication-overuse headaches,” they concluded.
Full text of the study, “Effects of medical marijuana on migraine headache frequency in an adult population,” appears online in Pharmacotherapy.