Between 1% and 2% of the world's population suffers from chronic migraines. Researchers from Israel have now found that using medical cannabis for a prolonged period may reduce the number of migraines a person experiences, as well as their intensity.
For the study, the researchers examined 145 people aged 34-54 with a history of frequent migraines. They had each been using medical cannabis for a median of three years. While 97 of them were women, 48 were men. The researchers collected information from the participants via a self-reported questionnaire as well as information on the characteristics of the medical marijuana they used.
In the end, they found that 89 of the participants, or 61% of the group, reported a 50% or more reduction in monthly migraines after using medical cannabis. A smaller subgroup of the participants also reported lower current migraine disability and less intense migraine attacks since taking the substance. "These findings indicate that MC [medical cannabis] results in long-term reduction of migraine frequency in [more than] 60% of treated patients and is associated with less disability and lower antimigraine medication intake," write the study's authors.
As migraines are classified as a pain condition, the researchers noted that cannabis may have been effective against them as it works via the endocannabinoid system. This comes as endocannabinoids have been shown to inhibit serotonin receptors and thus modulate pain and emetic (the need to vomit) responses in living organisms.
These findings are not the first to suggest that cannabis is able to relieve migraines. They build upon earlier evidence from a research team at the University of Colorado that found a similar link between migraines and cannabis in 2016.
Although promising results, the researchers nevertheless warn that before a link can be proven, and therapeutics for migraines involving cannabis developed, further research is needed to demonstrate the substance's efficacy against them.