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Medical marijuana studied for migraine headache

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
First study shows cannabis decreases migraines

Medical marijuana is shown to have a significant effect on migraine headaches, according to results of a new study.


According to the findings, patients given medical marijuana had a clinically and statistically significant drop in the frequency of migraines. They also reported feeling better overall.

Cannabis eases migraine frequency

Highlights from the study include:

Two thirds of patients reported they were already using cannabis for migraines when they enrolled in the study. Of 121 enrollees, 103 reported functioning better and having fewer migraines from medical marijuana.

The average frequency dropped from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month. Edible marijuana seemed to prevent migraines while inhaled cannabis treated acute migraines.

How marijuana might help migraines

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Professor Laura Borgelt, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS who led the study conducted at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.said researchers are still trying to understand how marijuana affects receptors in the body.

Read: Marijuana and epilepsy

Borgett believes cannabinoids may affect serotinin - a brain chemical believed to play a role in migraines, but more studies are needed to fully understand how it all works. The researchers also suggests speaking with your healthcare provider if you are considering marijuana. Doing so can help your doctor keep track of how your overall treatment is working.

She also warns marijuana is not without risks.

Read: 5 reasons to use marijuana

The study is one of the first to show medical marijuana decreases the frequency of migraine headaches. Borgett says the ideal study would include standardized dosing and a period of abstaining from marijuana prior to further studies. She also shares it would take legislative change to move forward with more research.

Updated January 20, 2016