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Cannabis Reduces Headache and Migraine Severity by Half

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 Dec 2019
Inhaled cannabis significantly reduces self-reported headache and migraine severity, according to a new study.

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU; Spokane, WA, USA) conducted a study that analyzed archival data from Strainprint, a smartphone app that allows patients to track their symptoms before and after consumption of medical cannabis purchased from Canadian producers and distributors. The data analyzed was submitted by more than 1,300 patients, who used the app in 12,293 sessions to track changes in headache severity before and after cannabis use, and another 653 who used the app over 7,441 sessions to track changes in migraine severity.

Image: Smoking cannabis can alleviate headaches and migraine (Photo courtesy of Corbis)
Image: Smoking cannabis can alleviate headaches and migraine (Photo courtesy of Corbis)

The results showed a 47.3% reduction in headache severity and a 49.6% reduction in migraine ratings following cannabis use. Men reported larger headache reductions than women, and use of concentrates (such as cannabis oil), produced a larger reduction in headache severity ratings than cannabis flower. No significant difference in pain reduction was seen among strains that were higher or lower in levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), suggesting that other cannabinoids (or even terpenes), may promote headache and migraine relief. The study was published on November 9, 2019, in The Journal of Pain.

“I suspect there are some slight overestimates of effectiveness. My hope is that this research will motivate researchers to take on the difficult work of conducting placebo-controlled trials,” said lead author Carrie Cuttler, PhD, of the WSU Translational Addiction Research Center. “In the meantime, this at least gives medical cannabis patients and their doctors a little more information about what they might expect from using cannabis to manage these conditions.”

Cannabis, also known as Marijuana, is composed of dried buds and leaves of varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. The two most active components in marijuana are THC and CBD, but there are over 100 cannabinoids in the plants themselves. THC seems to cause the euphoria reported by users, and helps relieve pain and nausea and reduce inflammation. CBD can help treat seizures, reduce anxiety and paranoia, and counteract the THC high.

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Washington State University


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