Medical marijuana has been helping millions of patients across the nation over the past couple of decades since prohibition first began to lose its power. Since California first legalized medical marijuana in 1996, 28 states have also chosen to legalize the plant for medicinal uses and it has been helping to treat a wide variety of conditions from cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s to PTSD, autism and Tourette’s syndrome. Amongst one of the commonly treated conditions are migraines. Marijuana has been used for many years to treat the debilitating symptoms of migraines but recently researchers decided to explore the connection. The research uncovered that marijuana for migraines is a very effective form of treatment.
The Severity of Migraines
Migraines effect approximately 38 million men, women and children per year in the U.S. They have actually been named the 6th most debilitating condition in the world. The symptoms make it impossible to work or carry on with normal life and include throbbing pain in the head, face or neck. There can be sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms of migraines can last for hours or days sometimes and the severity often makes it impossible for the sufferer to continue on with normal life.
Research into Marijuana for Migraines
Given that marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug (in the same high risk category as heroin) and officially considered to not have any medicinal value, it still remains illegal on a federal level. For this reason, it has been illegal to conduct medical research on the plant. Some scientists have continued to study it regardless but there has been a danger in that work. As of August last year, the DEA removed the stigma around such research, creating ways for researchers across the country to conduct their own studies.
Researchers at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are some of the people who have been investigating how medical marijuana could help with people suffering from migraines. The results were published in the scientific journal Pharmacotherapy. The researchers evaluated the charts of 121 migraine sufferers who were treated at Gedde Whole Health between 2010 and 2014. Gedde Whole Health is a private practice that looked at the potential of treating various conditions with marijuana. According to the study, the patients being treated for migraines discovered that with the use of medical marijuana, their migraines were reduced from 10.4 times a month to 4.6 times. This drastic reduction in the frequency of migraines is significant enough to warrant more research into how marijuana for migraines can be used.
85% of Subjects Report Beneficial Response
The research was extremely effective in proving that marijuana for migraines is indeed a good option for helping to treat the condition. Nearly 40 percent of subjects reported positive effects. 19.8 percent of people said that the marijuana helped prevent the migraines altogether. 11.6 percent of patients said that the marijuana stopped the migraine in its tracks. 85 percent said they had a reduction in monthly migraines. 12 percent saw no change and only 2 percent claimed they experienced an increase. Given that 85 percent of subjects experienced significant benefits, the research indicates that cannabis has the ability to help treat migraines quite conclusively. Inhalation was the most effective method whereas eating it seemed to potentially lead to sleepiness and other such effects.
A Potential Issue of Endocannabinoid Deficiency
A study exploring marijuana for migraines, published in Neuroendocrinology Letters in 2008 found that endocannabinoid deficiency my actually be the cause of migraines. In this scenario, marijuana would be extremely helpful in treating the condition. Eric P. Baron of the Cleveland Clinic Department of Neurology wrote a report on the subject saying, “A review of 38 published randomized controlled trials evaluating cannabinoids in pain management revealed that 71 percent concluded that cannabinoids had empirically demonstrable and statistically significant pain-relieving effects, whereas 29 percent did not.” He adds, “Endocannabinoid deficiency has been theorized as a possible cause for migraine and other chronic pain disorders, including chronic migraine and medication overuse headache.”
Other Potential Reasons Marijuana May Be Effective for Migraines
Other factors in how marijuana for migraines has been effective, may include the actual properties in marijuana that have been known to be beneficial for so many conditions. CBD has been found to be helpful due to its anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant and analgesic properties. It’s extremely beneficial for treating neuroinflammation. THC may also help due to its ability to reduce stress as well as being a powerful pain reliever. It is also excellent for the treatment of nausea and vomiting.
A Lack of Side Effects with Marijuana
The current commonly used medication for treating migraines is not only ineffective but can lead to more headaches and cycles of use with pain medication that puts a lot of strain on the kidneys and liver. Marijuana has been studied to reveal no physical problems other than a heightened risk of gum disease from smoke after long term use. If sufferers are worried about the possible psychoactive aspects of using marijuana for migraines, low THC strains are available. THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. High CBD strains with lower THC help to eliminate the migraine symptoms without the psychoactive effects.
Medical Marijuana Use Beyond Migraine Treatment
Various combinations of THC and CBD have been used to slow the spread of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease amongst many more. Its pain relieving effects have been able to help and prevent opioid addiction as well as effectively treat pain. It treats glaucoma, preventing blindness and helps to stop and prevent seizures, which can be lifesaving. It is excellent for neurological damage in general as well as treating a variety of mental disorders from depression, anxiety and ADHD to PTSD and insomnia. All of these reasons are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marijuana’s uses across the country right now and the variety of ways it has been used to help people who are suffering with debilitating disorders and injuries.
The next step for working with the treatment of marijuana for migraines would be uncovering what dosage and strain is best suited for migraines specifically. Different strains will no doubt offer different effects when it comes to effective treatments and thorough research will be necessary in order to understand the best possible dosage and treatment options. Right now sufferers can experiment with what seems to work best for them. At any rate, every study provides an advancement towards being able to help those suffering with the condition.