Study: Migraine Sufferers Report Cannabis to Be More Effective Than Conventional Treatments

Boulder, CO: Migraine sufferers who use both cannabis and conventional anti-migraine treatments say that medical marijuana provides them with a greater degree of relief from their symptoms, according to data published in the journal Complimentary Therapies in Medicine.

A team of investigators affiliated with the University of Colorado at Boulder examined cannabis use patterns among 161 subjects who reported suffering from migraines.

Seventy-six percent of study participants endorsed the use of cannabis for their condition. Those who did so typically reported suffering from more severe migraines than those who did not. Authors further reported, “Among migraineurs who relied on both cannabis and non-cannabis products, cannabis products led to significantly more migraine relief (90 percent relief) than non-cannabis products (60 percent relief), a finding that, to our knowledge, has not been reported previously.”

Authors concluded: “Our preliminary findings elucidate the experience of migraine and migraine severity in a large sample of cannabis users [and] provide evidence for the utility of cannabis for mitigating migraine-related pain. … Future placebo-controlled studies are needed to determine the cannabis forms, potencies, and dosages that are most effective at mitigating migraine symptoms.”

Survey data published in October reported that nearly one-third of patients with migraines have tried cannabis for symptom management, and the majority of those who have done so report it to be effective. Writing this past July in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, a team of University of New Mexico researchers similarly reported that that the majority of subjects in their sample (94 percent) experienced migraine relief within two hours of inhaling marijuana.

Separate data published this past summer in the journal Brain Sciences reported that the inhalation of cannabis long-term was associated with reductions in migraine frequency. Another study, published in 2019 in the Journal of Pain, reported that “inhaled cannabis reduces headache and migraine severity ratings by approximately 50 percent.” A 2016 study of 121 migraine sufferers reported that the frequency of headaches decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 migraine headaches per month following the initiation of cannabis.

Full text of the study, “Experience of migraine, its severity, and perceived efficacy of treatments among cannabis users,” appears in Complimentary Therapies in Medicine. Additional information on the use of cannabinoids for migraine is available from NORML.