Next time you have a migraine, you might want to think twice before popping an advil to treat it. Cannabis could work just as well, and doesn’t come with the side effect of compromising your liver.
According to a study that was presented at the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology, cannabinoid treatment is just as suitable for alleviating migraines as pharmaceutical options. However, the study also found that in regard to cluster headaches, cannabinoids (the chemical compounds in cannabis) were only effective for patients who suffered from migraines during childhood.
During the first phase of the study, a team of researchers led by Dr. Maria Nicolodi, director of the headache unit at Centro Oncologico Fiorentino – Villanova in Florence, Italy, discovered that oral doses of 200 milligrams of THC reduced acute pain by 55 percent. Doses less than 100 milligrams, however, seemed to provide no relief.
Over a three month period during the second phase of the study, the researchers gave 79 chronic migraine patients a daily dose of either 200 milligrams of a THC-CBD combination, or 25 milligrams of amitriptyline, an antidepressant also used to treat migraines. The researchers also gave another group of cluster headache patients a medical marijuana product, or 480 milligrams of verapamil, which blocks calcium channels.
Meanwhile, patients who still suffered from acutely painful migraines or cluster headaches were given another 200 milligrams of the cannabis product.
Overall, the cannabis treatment was found to work slightly better than the pharmaceutical one. Whereas cannabis reduced migraine attacks by 40.4 percent, amitriptyline reduced them by 40.1 percent. But moreover, cannabis also helped with the intensity of the pain, reducing it by 43.5 percent. Cluster headache patients also experienced a reduction in pain, but only if they also experienced migraines during childhood. For those who did not get migraines as children, the medical cannabis solution did little to treat their acute pain.
The patients also reported side effects like drowsiness and decreased focus, while female patients in particular also experienced a reduction in colitis, stomachache, and musculoskeletal pain. That could be in part because cannabinoid medicine targets the entire endocannabinoid system, a network of receptor cells throughout the body, and could be useful in mitigated all sorts of pain or discomfort.
If you suffer from migraines, there are a handful of strains known to be an effective treatment. Among them are white widow, a ~40 percent indica hybrid, OG Kush, a euphoric stress-relieving hybrid, Harlequin, a high-CBD strain, or God’s Gift, a ~20 percent THC indica.