Study: Inhaling Marijuana Associated With Reductions in Headache/Migraine Severity

Inhaling marijuana is associated with reductions in headache and migraine severity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Pain, and published by the National Institute of Health.

The study, titled Short and Long-term effects of cannabis on headaches and migraine, can be found by clicking here.

For the study, researchers at Washington State University analyzed data from 1,959 anonymous marijuana consumers who tracked their marijuana use and headache frequency over a 16-month period. They did so using an online application system.

As noted by NORML, authors reported that inhaled cannabis reduced subjects’ perceived severity of headache and migraine by nearly 50%. Men were more likely than women to report changes in headache severity. “Investigators also acknowledged that many subjects exhibited tolerance to cannabis over time, as they required increased quantities to maintain the same self-reported analgesic effects.”

The study concludes by stating that: “The present study indicates that inhaled cannabis reduces headache and migraine severity ratings by approximately 50 percent. Repeated use of cannabis is associated with tolerance to its effects, making tolerance a risk factor for the use of cannabis to treat headache and migraine. However, cannabis does not lead to the medication overuse headache that is associated with other conventional treatments, meaning that use of cannabis does not make headaches or migraines worse over time. Future double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials are warranted and will help to rule out placebo effects and provide a more controlled examination of dose, type of cannabis, THC, CBD, and THC x CBD interactions.”

The full abstract of the study can be found below:

Use of cannabis to alleviate headache and migraine is relatively common, yet research on its effectiveness remains sparse. We sought to determine whether inhalation of cannabis decreases headache and migraine ratings as well as whether gender, type of cannabis (concentrate vs. flower), THC, CBD, or dose contribute to changes in these ratings. Finally, we explored evidence for tolerance to these effects. Archival data were obtained from StrainprintTM, a medical cannabis app that allows patients to track symptoms before and after using different strains and doses of cannabis. Latent change score models and multilevel models were used to analyze data from 12,293 sessions where cannabis was used to treat headache and 7,441 sessions where cannabis was used to treat migraine. There were significant reductions in headache and migraine ratings after cannabis use. Men reported larger reductions in headache than women and use of concentrates was associated with larger reductions in headache than flower. Further, there was evidence of tolerance to these effects. Perspective: Inhaled cannabis reduces self-reported headache and migraine severity by approximately 50%. However, its effectiveness appears to diminish across time and patients appear to use larger doses across time, suggesting tolerance to these effects may develop with continued use.

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