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Medical Marijuana Could Help Manage Migraines

According to new research, medical cannabis shows great promise as a potential migraine treatment.

More than a billion people worldwide suffer from migraine headaches. Migraine headaches are also known to be the second leading cause of disability globally.

Doctors primarily treat migraine with different types of pain medications, all of which have potential side effects. Past research shows that two-thirds of people with severe headaches and migraine sometimes delay or avoid taking prescribed medications due to side effects concerns.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Arizona say they have found evidence supporting the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of migraine. The researchers say medical marijuana can help lower a person’s migraine frequency per month and reduces nausea and vomiting associated with migraine attacks.

But most importantly, for migraine sufferers, medical marijuana can offer relief without the dangerous side effects of opioid painkillers and other medications traditionally prescribed for migraine. 

The study was what researchers call a “meta-analysis,” which is a study of studies.

For this meta-analysis, the team, led by Dr. Cecilia Rosales, reviewed 12 publications involving almost 2,000 participants ages 18 and older in Italy and the United States.

Through their review, the researchers found that medical cannabis was around 50% more effective in reducing migraine compared with non-cannabis treatments. They reported that participants who used medical cannabis reduced their number of migraine days after 30 days and also reduced the frequency of migraine per month.

Additionally, the researchers found those who used medical cannabis significantly reduced migraine-associated nausea and vomiting after six months of use.

“There is promising evidence that medical cannabis can reduce the effects — nausea, vomiting — on the onset and duration of migraine in adults,” Dr. Rosales said. 

Dr. Sherry Yafai, an emergency medicine physician, and cannabis specialist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, (who was not involved in this study), stated she was glad there is more research showing proof of cannabis’ effectiveness.

“Just like in this review study, we’re seeing a very similar response in patients that we’re treating as well, which is that patients have a shorter duration of their migraine headaches,” she explained to the press. “Instead of their headaches ranging from days to weeks, lasting just hours, depending on when they intervene with the cannabis use.”

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