Cannabis May Be Effective for Migraine Treatment

The growing body of research on marijuana and its effectiveness for pain management can be attributed to its recent legalization across multiple states in the United States.

The following article is part of conference coverage from the IASP 2018 conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Clinical Pain Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in pain medicine. Check back for the latest news from IASP 2018.

Cannabis may be an effective treatment for headache management, according to a study to be presented at the 2018 World Congress on Pain, held September 12-16 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The trial included 3500 patients in a university-based tertiary headache clinic, 310 of whom were self-identified as marijuana users. Researchers evaluated the perceived effectiveness and concomitant effects of marijuana for headache management using a detailed patient intake questionnaire. New patients who self-identified as marijuana users were asked to complete a supplemental institutional review board (IRB)-approved study questionnaire.

The results revealed that 90.3% of marijuana users found it helpful for managing headache pain, with only 7.7% of patients experiencing any adverse events. Furthermore, 54% of patients reported trying marijuana for daily headache prevention, and of these 47.7% were currently using marijuana for headache prevention.

Of the participants who were sent the IRB-approved questionnaire, 94 responded; 91.9% (n=82) used marijuana in the previous year and 97.8% (n=72) used marijuana in the previous month.

Marijuana was used for headache-related pain management in 88.9% of patients, and 61.1% used it to manage other pain. Of the patients who used marijuana for headache management, 8 reported a complete resolution of headache and 44 reported some relief of headache-related pain but not complete resolution.

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Researchers added, “To address the concern for substance use disorder and whether cannabis may function as a ‘gateway drug,’ our review shows a low incidence of comorbid substance use disorder in this group. The rate of educational attainment and employment were also assessed. [The] majority of patients in the study have anxiety unrelated to marijuana use, perceive marijuana as safe, and are not concerned about using marijuana.”

While case reports and retrospective reviews are suggestive of marijuana’s beneficial use for the treatment of migraines, randomized clinical trials on its effects ultimately represent a lacuna in marijuana medical research.

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Krashin D, Murinova N, Mannava A, Schorn N, Murin M. Marijuana use in headache.
Presented at the World Congress on Pain 2018; September 12-16, 2018; Boston, MA. Poster 65961.

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