London, United Kingdom: The use of cannabis products is associated with symptomatic improvements in patients with headache disorders, according to observational trail data published in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics.
British investigators assessed the safety and efficacy of cannabis-derived products in 97 patients diagnosed with migraine and other headache disorders. Study subjects were participants in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, and each of them possessed a doctor’s authorization to access cannabis. Study participants consumed cannabis by either vaporizing marijuana flowers or by ingesting plant-derived extracts containing both THC and CBD. Researchers assessed subjects’ symptoms compared to baseline at one, three, and six-months.
Cannabis therapy was associated with sustained improvements in pain, anxiety, sleep, and other health-related outcomes. Fewer than one-in-five patients reported experiencing any adverse events from cannabis. Most events were perceived to be mild.
“[While] these results provide promise with respect to the changes in health-related quality of life experienced by those with primary headache disorders, there is a still a requirement for further RCTs [randomized placebo-controlled trials] to be conducted to understand the true efficacy of CBMPs [cannabis-based medicinal products] for this indication,” authors concluded. “However, whilst these are awaited, the present study outcomes with respect to safety and efficacy, provides useful insights to inform current clinical practice.”
According to a systematic review of the literature published in December, the inhalation of cannabis flowers is generally effective and well-tolerated among patients with migraine. Authors of the review concluded: “[M]edical marijuana has a significant clinical response by reducing the length and frequency of migraines. No severe adverse effects were noted. Due to its effectiveness and convenience, medical marijuana therapy may be helpful for patients suffering from migraines.”
Patients enrolled in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress, depression, refractory epilepsy, and inflammatory bowel disease have also demonstrated symptomatic improvements following cannabis therapy.
Full text of the study, “UK Cannabis Registry: Assessment of clinical outcomes in patients with headache disorders,” appears in Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. Additional information on cannabis and headaches is available from NORML’s publication, Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids.