The Future of Migraine Treatment. New Hope with Cannabis

Migraine is more than just a bad headache. For the over one billion people worldwide affected by migraine, it is a disabling health condition that disrupts every aspect of life.

The nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity make it impossible to function normally during a migraine attack. Current treatments have limited effectiveness and come with troublesome side effects. There is an urgent need for better options.

Exciting new research may offer hope. A groundbreaking study from the University of California San Diego provides the first robust scientific evidence that medical cannabis can effectively treat migraine.

In this randomized, placebo-controlled trial, vaporized cannabis containing both THC and CBD provided substantial pain relief for 67% of treated migraine attacks – significantly more than the 47% pain relief rate with placebo.

Even more remarkably, the medical cannabis delivered sustained relief: pain freedom continued for 24 hours for 28% and freedom from light/sound sensitivity lasted 48 hours for 40%.

This rigorously conducted study opens the door to a potential new era of highly effective, plant-based migraine relief without opioids. Keep reading to learn more about this pivotal study and why it could change the way we treat migraine forever.

How Was the Medical Cannabis Migraine Study Conducted?

The study enrolled 92 adults who experienced between 2 to 23 migraine headache days per month.

Patients were randomly assigned to treat individual migraine attacks with vaporized medical cannabis flower containing one of four formulations:

  • 6% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis)
  • 11% CBD (cannabidiol – a non-intoxicating compound)
  • 6% THC + 11% CBD in combination
  • Placebo (no active cannabinoids)

Neither the patients nor the researchers knew which formulation was administered for each treated attack until the end of the study.

This rigorous “double-blind” design allows an unbiased assessment of outcomes. The flower formulations all contained less than 1% minor cannabinoids and no terpenes.

Patients inhaled the vaporized medical cannabis early during migraine attacks when pain was still moderate or severe.

Outcomes measured were: rates of pain relief, freedom from pain, and freedom from most bothersome migraine symptoms (light sensitivity, sound sensitivity or nausea) assessed at 1, 2, 24 and 48 hours post-inhalation.

Topline Results. THC and CBD Together Work Best

The winning formula was 6% THC combined with 11% CBD. Compared to placebo, the THC+CBD medical cannabis provided:

  • Higher rates of pain relief at 2 hours post-inhalation: 67% vs 47% with placebo
  • 3 times higher likelihood of complete pain freedom at 2 hours
  • Significantly greater relief from light/sound sensitivity
  • Sustained 24 and 48 hour benefits after a single treatment

Notably, adverse events with THC+CBD were mild. There were no serious side effects. The combination THC+CBD formulation yielded better outcomes with lower psychoactive effects than THC alone.

CBD alone, however, showed no significant pain relieving benefits for migraine. The researchers conclude that THC and CBD likely work together synergistically, activating the body’s native endocannabinoid system through different mechanisms.

Takeaway: Vaporized whole flower medical cannabis containing 6% THC + 11% CBD provided rapid, effective and sustained migraine relief without serious side effects in this groundbreaking study.

Why Are These Findings so Exciting for Migraine Treatment?

Currently available medications for acute migraine treatment like triptans or ergotamines provide inconsistent benefits, cannot be used frequently, and come with concerns about medication overuse headache as well as cardiovascular and neurological side effects.

Data from this pioneering research make a strong case that medical cannabis could offer a badly needed new option – one that is rapid acting, plant-based, non-addictive and most importantly provides sustained pain freedom.

If longer term studies support these results, THC+CBD medical cannabis may significantly improve quality of life for those battling chronic migraine.

The prospect of safe, effective migraine relief from the cannabis plant aligns beautifully with the larger societal movements promoting food as medicine, distrust of profit-driven pharmaceutical companies, and desire for holistic health approaches grounded in nature.

We applaud these visionary University of California San Diego researchers for undertaking such a scientifically rigorous investigation.

Despite medical cannabis access spreading rapidly across the globe, claims of its medicinal utility have raced far ahead of quality evidence. This team’s findings now provide that crucial evidence-based confirmation: medical cannabis has immense promise for the future of migraine treatment.

What Questions Still Remain?

While remarkably promising, more research with larger samples is still needed to confirm effectiveness and safety with repeated, long-term medical cannabis use for migraine relief and prevention. Areas for future studies include:

  • Effects with different THC:CBD ratios and different minor cannabinoid / terpene profiles
  • Optimal dosage and frequency of administration
  • Risks and benefits associated with daily medical cannabis use
  • Interactions with common migraine medications like triptans
  • Preventive effects on migraine frequency, severity and disability

We sincerely hope this pioneering University of California San Diego study stimulates investment into further rigorous medical cannabis research and expanded patient access.

People in chronic pain should not have to suffer needlessly when gentler plant-based options may already exist. Let us move towards a future embracing medical cannabis to humanize healthcare for migraine relief.

Leave a comment