The effects of migraines can be debilitating for the 38 million men, women and children who suffer from migraines in the U.S. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine is the sixth most disabling illness in the world.
But new research has revealed that medical marijuana could reduce the frequency of migraines. Not only that, but medical marijuana avoids the medication-overuse headache common with conventional migraine treatments.
Finding relief with medical marijuana
Published in the scientific journal Pharmacotherapy, researchers at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus studied 121 patients diagnosed with migraines. Researchers looked at the charts of patients treated at Gedde Whole Health, a private practice specializing in the use of marijuana for a variety of conditions.
About two-thirds of the patients studied already had a history of using medical marijuana or were using cannabis at the time of their initial visit. When the patients were treated with medical marijuana for migraine treatment between January 2010 and September 2014, they reported frequency of migraines dropped from an average of 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month. A drop in frequency of this size is considered both statistically and clinically significant.
Conventionally-trained physicians need to see these scientific results
Of the 121 patients studied, 103 reported a decrease in monthly migraines. Fifteen of the patients reported they got about the same number of headaches, while three felt they had an increase in migraines.
Patients used a variety of cannabis forms, suggesting that type of cannabis utilized did not affect the results. Inhaled marijuana surfaced as the favorite for treating acute symptoms. Edible cannabis, which takes longer to affect the body, appeared most useful in helping to prevent headaches.
The researchers said they could not determine just how medical marijuana alleviated the symptoms of migraine. However, they believe there is some association between the cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body – which are believed to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties – and critical neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Conventional migraine remedies actually cause more headaches
Conventional treatment for migraine has been linked to a condition known as medication-overuse headache, a side effect not seen with medical marijuana use. Headache development is most common when a migraine sufferer uses acute pain-relief medication in excess of two or three times a week or an average of more than 10 days per month.
Many migraine sufferers relying on conventional treatments find themselves in a painful cycle of medication-overuse headache most days, punctuated by episodic migraine pain. The condition is seen almost exclusively in those experiencing migraines or other frequent headaches. Those taking painkillers for reasons other than headache are typically not affected by the side effect. The result is a vicious cycle of varying pain.
Drugs most associated with development of chronic headaches include paracetamol, codeine and the triptans. Long-term use of preventative migraine medications also risks damage to liver and kidneys.
Medical marijuana offers a wide range of health benefits
Preventing or reducing the impact of migraines is only one example of the many medicinal uses of medical marijuana. Throughout history, medical cannabis has been prized for its medicinal purposes.
From the 1850s until 1942, cannabis was used in the U.S. as treatment for a host of illnesses and disorders, including tetanus, cholera, rabies, dysentery, alcoholism, opiate addiction, convulsive disorders, insanity, excessive menstrual bleeding and a long list of other health conditions. By 1937, however, the government had passed its first federal law against cannabis, despite opposition by the American Medical Association.
Some of the health benefits associated with medicinal marijuana include:
• Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
• Slowing the spread of cancer
• Relieving pain
• Preventing or helping with opiate addiction
• Eliminating depression, ADHD and anxiety
• Prevent blindness from glaucoma
• Treating epilepsy and Tourette’s syndrome
• Treating neurological damage, such as strokes or concussions
Many believe the tide is finally changing and medicinal marijuana is slowly being recognized again for its health benefits. Although most Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, the government has been slow to change its stance.
Obviously, this resistance to change is being driven by the pharmaceutical industry. Relatively low-cost marijuana poses a major threat to drug development and sales. Find a doctor that understands your health issues and is willing to help with the least toxic methods available.