Migraine sufferers have long been turning to marijuana to alleviate their pain but findings of a new study have finally proved the efficacy of using cannabis to treat the condition.
For the new study published in the journal Pharmacotherapy this week, researchers saw a significant reduction in the frequency of migraine headaches among individuals who were treated with medical marijuana.
The researchers found that in migraine patients who used medical marijuana, the occurrence of migraines dropped from 10.4 to 4.6 percent a month, which is considered statistically and clinically significant. They also discovered that inhaling marijuana appears to be the most ideal way to treat headaches because the effects occur sooner compared with using edibles.
Of the 121 participants who participated in the study, 103 reported that the frequency of their monthly migraines has decreased and 15 reported having the same number of migraine headaches. Three of the participants reported an increase in migraine occurrence.
"The most remarkable finding in my opinion was the decrease in migraine frequency," said study author Danielle Rhyne, from University of Colorado. "There were some patients who reported more than 15 migraines per month before using cannabis. After using cannabis, they were reduced to one to two migraines per month."
Rhyne and colleagues acknowledged that they do not yet fully understand how cannabis relieves migraine albeit they think that cannabis provides natural solution to the disease.
Earlier studies have found a link between chronic migraines and deficits in endocannabinoid system, where appetite, mood, motor coordination, digestion and development are regulated. It is also the bodily system which responds to the cannabinoids found in marijuana.
"We believe serotonin plays a role in migraine headaches, but we are still working to discover the exact role of cannabinoids in this condition," said study researcher Laura Borgelt, from Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The researchers said that their findings may provide a way to jumpstart treatment of migraine in states that have legalized medical marijuana, or at least pave way for further study.
Despite the promising results, the researchers warned that using marijuana comes with potential risks. Borgelt said that just like any drug, marijuana both has potential benefits and risks so people need to be aware that using medical pot comes with potential adverse effects.
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