New research on cannabis for migraines

Medical marijuana has been legalized in NY and more than 20 other states. It is approved in NY for several medical conditions, including pain and some of my patients with headaches (about one out of 3), arthritis, and other pains have found it to be very helpful. Some patients use it acutely (as a vaporizer or tincture) and report relief of pain, and/or nausea and for some it allows them to go to sleep and sleep off their migraines. Tablets of medical marijuana can prevent migraines if taken once or twice a day. Most people need products with a low THC/CBD ratio which does not cause euphoria or other cognitive effect.

Despite the requirement by states to have verified amounts of active ingredients, THC and CBD in the medical marijuana products, the efficacy and the side effects vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. This could be in part due to ingredients other than THC and CBD. Fortunately, many researchers are looking into the effect of pure ingredients and their mechanism of action.

Such a study was presented at the recent meeting of the American Headache Society by scientists from the Missouri State University led by Paul Durham. They developed a new animal model of migraine in rats and triggered a process in the rats’ brains that is similar to a migraine in humans. Administering cannabidiol (CBD) suppressed increased sensitivity in the trigeminal nerve and produced other positive effects, suggesting a possible mechanism by which CBD may relieve migraine and other facial pains. The next logical step would be to add small amounts of THC to see if it enhances the effect of CBD (so called entourage effect).

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