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New Research Shows Promising Treatment Results for Migraine Sufferers

August 31, 2020 10:00 am ET
New Research Shows Promising Treatment Results for Migraine Sufferers

If you have ever suffered through a migraine, you’ll know how much an effective alleviator is necessary. Most of the conventional methods for treating migraines involve pharmaceutical medication, which has been known to be accompanied by unwanted side effects, especially from opioid based medication. Fortunately for migraine sufferers, the real-time benefits of cannabis on migraines has been researched and recorded in a study published in July 2020. 

What are Migraines?

For those who have never suffered from this, a migraine involves severe throbbing, pain or pulsing in the head. Migraines tend to be on one side of the head and are often accompanied by unpleasantries such as nausea, vomiting and may even include extreme sensitivity to lights and sounds. The symptoms associated with migraines can be so severe that it disrupts daily routine and activities. 

The Mayo Clinic explained that some individuals who suffer from migraines are presented with a warning symptom which can include flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the side of the face, arm or leg and it may even cause the individual to begin speaking differently. The clinic further explains that migraine sufferers can progress through four stages known as prodrome, aura, attack and postdrome but that it is not certain that everyone will experience all of the stages. 

  • Prodrome involves subtle changes as a warning and those changes can include mood swings, food cravings, neck stiffness, frequent yawning, constipation as well as increased thirst and urination. 
  • Aura involves reversible symptoms of the nervous system such as visual loss, seeing shapes/bright spots/flashes of light, difficult speaking, interference in hearing as well as uncontrollable jerking. 
  • Attack involves the actual migraine which can last from 4-72 hours if the individual does not get it treated. The migraine involves extreme pain and sensitivity alongside nausea and vomiting. 
  • Postdrome involves the feeling of confusion, exhaustion or even elation which is experienced after the migraine itself has subsided. 

What Does the Study Have to Say?

The objective of the study was to examine the effectiveness of the cannabis plant (the whole dried plant) as a treatment for headache- and migraine-related pain. This study has become the first to examine this in actual time. Participants in the study used an application called “Releaf Application” in order to record the details of their cannabis use. They were to record the details (characteristics) of the cannabis product as well as the intensity of the symptom(s) before and immediately after consumption. 

The study done by Sarah Stith and team, captured 1910 sessions where the 699 participants recorded using cannabis as a treatment at the actual time of headache and migraine symptoms. The participants had between the 6th of October 2016 and the 2nd of December 2019 to make use of the application and record their experiences. The study made use of a 0-10 rating scale for symptoms prior and post cannabis use, which participants used to rate the intensity of the symptoms.  

The results of this study revealed that 94% of the participants experienced effective symptom relief within a two-hour observation period. On the scale, there was a migraine/headache intensity reduction of 3.3 points and displayed the following interesting results: (1) Men experienced more relief than women, (2) Users under 35 years of age experienced more relief than older users and that (3) Women and younger users appeared to benefits most from products which were labelled “indica” as opposed to its counterparts “sativa” and “hybrid”. 

The study concluded by stating that the “whole dried Cannabis flower may be an effective medication for treatment of migraine- and headache-related pain, but the effectiveness differs according to characteristics of the Cannabis plant, the combustion methods, and the age and gender of the patient”. 

How Does Cannabis Help Migraines?

Dr. Jim Polston is the Chief Science Officer at Helius Therapeutics in New Zealand with specialized skills in extractions, separations, purification, product formulation and research. Emma Stone, a journalist in New Zealand, reported on Dr. Polston’s explanation behind the workings between cannabis, endocannabinoid system (ECS) and migraines.

Dr. Polston explains that “There is mounting evidence that the endocannabinoid system can directly reduce migraine pain when activated by naturally produced cannabinoids or medical cannabis taken by patients”. This means that the consumption of cannabis can assist individuals dealing with migraines by reducing the inflammation, thus also reducing the pain. Dr. Polston continues to explain that one of the more common causes of chronic migraines involves a deficiency in the anandamide and the doctor stated that “anandamide is one of two cannabinoids naturally produced in the brain and is associated with reduced inflammation and activation of pain centers in the brain”. By consuming cannabis, the levels of anandamide are boosted, which sorts out the deficiency. 

For individuals suffering from migraines, cannabis can act as an effective and efficient treatment and it can possibly prevent future migraines if yours are caused by the lack of anandamide. Thanks to the recent research, migraine sufferers can see for themselves what cannabis can do for their pain and suffering. Let us know what your experiences have been like in the comment section below!

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