Findings of a new cannabis-related study suggest that using cannabis prior to an upcoming migraine could reduce the headaches, and even prevent them with the right amount of THC.
The latest study on the anti-migraine effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical compound of cannabis better known as THC, suggests that smoking a little bit of weed when you feel as if you are about to get a migraine could significantly reduce the headache pain the migraine induces.
Preclinical studies show that THC is effective in reducing multiple types of pain, including pain caused by a tissue-damaging event, chronic inflammation, lactic acid and lastly neuropathy.
THC also suppresses the propagation velocity, amplitude, and duration of cortical spreading depression, a key component of migraine pathophysiology.
This study was initiated because the current migraine medicine is not up to challenge, as it often has limited efficacy and many side effects.
It is important to note that this study is still in its early phase as the tests were conducted only on rats.
Researchers of the Washington State University found that injecting rats with small doses of THC shortly after inducing migraine-like pains reduces the pain by a noticeable amount.
In fact, only those rats that were given THC moments after the pain was induced felt relief, while those injected 90 minutes after the induction felt no ease at all.
Previous findings confirmed
The researchers based the study on previous findings that medical marijuana has shown to reduce the frequency of migraines, and the fact that people have been using it for self-medication against migraine pains for decades now.
In this 2016 study, the frequency of migraine headaches in patients consuming medical marijuana decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month.
This study was perhaps one of the most groundbreaking cannabis-related studies, and the conclusion was that further large-scale tests on the effects of THC on migraine pain should be conducted.
Another recommendation was to immediately conduct tests regarding the appropriate amounts of THC for migraine pains.
Now, the most recent study found that amount, and in rats, it is 0.32 mg/kg.
They also tested higher doses, and those tests failed as the rats would be too affected by THC, which shows that smaller doses are a way to go when treating migraine pains.
This can be contributed to the disruptive side effects prevent the restoration of normal activity, even though higher levels of THC could also terminate the pain.
The researchers rounded up their findings with a more than optimistic conclusion:
One difference between our study and anecdotal reports from migraine patients is that we focused on THC specifically, whereas marijuana contains over 100 different cannabinoids as well as non-cannabinoid constituents (Atakan, 2012). Thus, it is possible that constituents other than THC can reverse migraine pain that has progressed to a stage that is unaffected by THC alone.
This is to say that there may be more in marijuana than we have already tested for, which can help us with migraine pains.
It is also very important to note that previous migraine studies have been conducted mostly on male test-subjects, which could further devalue the results found.
Seeing how migraines are three times more common in women than men, finding effective anti-migraine therapies for women and using female subjects in preclinical studies remains a priority.
Researchers also found that the higher incidence of migraine pains in women may be due to changes in hormone levels across the menstrual cycle.