Migraine is one of the world’s most prevalent neurological diseases, according to information from the Migraine Research Foundation, affecting approximately 39 million people in the U.S. and about one billion globally. Symptoms, which are often disabling, can include severe headache, dizziness, nausea, visual disturbances and severe sensitivity to light or sound. Migraine disease is commonly treated with strong pharmaceutical drugs, although with varying results.
“Our goal is to explore if our CBD isolate can help people who suffer from chronic headaches, like migraine. The results of the survey are promising,” Ben Rollins, the founder of Axon Relief, said in a press release.
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Participants completed the Hit-6 survey both before and after using the CBD oil. During the 30-day trial period, respondents experienced an average of 3.8 fewer headache days than before using Axon’s CBD oil, a reduction of 23%. Chronic migraine sufferers, defined as people who experience 15 to 29 headache days over a 30-day period, saw a 33% reduction in their headache days.
Although Axon’s study was conducted without the scientific rigor of gold-standard clinical trials, the results of the Hit-6 survey underscore the need for more research into CBD as a possible treatment for migraine sufferers around the world.
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Photo courtesy of Axon Relief
Medical cannabis and its potential role in headaches and migraines
As with all research, limitations exist that prevent a quality analysis. This literature review is limited by the number of articles that were selected to begin. The use of cannabis with other recreational drugs was not excluded from the studies. Also, the selected studies had their own limitations as the articles were surveys collected, online surveys, a small sample size, and very few controlled trials. The lack of standardization may affect the quality of our results. Despite the limitations of the above studies, medical cannabis is an effective alternative treatment for managing headache and migraine symptoms. Our review article shows that cannabis use is picking up in patients with chronic pain and can be expected to continue to rise upwards in the face of increasing societal awareness and availability of legal cannabis . Careful questioning and discussing with the patients about the use of marijuana, its risks, and benefits should be documented and researched. More information about the doses, frequency, methods, and forms of marijuana consumed, as well as alcohol use, illicit drug, and prescription drug use, should be explored to form the definitive treatment goal for migraine and headache patients .
Cannabinoids, similar to other analgesics and recreational drugs, act on the brain’s reward system, especially on cannabinoid one receptor localized at the same place as opioid receptors on nucleus accumbens and functions by overlapping the antinociceptive pathways . Articles included in our study focused on identifying the cannabis treatment in migraines and headaches. These articles also analyzed the preferred cannabis forms and their substitution for medications. During the extensive search of the literature, we came across three main questions for which the studies are conducted and directed: (i) Is medical cannabis effective on headaches and migraines? (ii) What forms of medical cannabis do people prefer? (iii) What is an ideal dose for the “preferred form?”
Despite mixed findings regarding the effectiveness of medical cannabis on both headaches and migraines, there is a consensus for the indication of medical marijuana therapy when first and second-line treatment fails. Current ethnobotanical and anecdotal references mention efficacy. Biochemical studies of THC and anandamide have provided a scientific basis for both symptomatic and prophylactic treatment of migraine . Dronabinol and nabilone, synthetic cannabinoids, have been shown to act in place of first-line therapy for cluster headaches (triptans, verapamil) and can effectively control pain [16,26]. Non-synthetic cannabis (oral, inhaled, sublingual, edible, topical) can be indicated for managing headache and migraine symptoms, but it is dose-dependent [22,23]. Adverse reactions to medical cannabis use can include dizziness, dry mouth or eyes, nausea, vomiting, and psychosis . Despite such side effects, patients have an overall favorable view of using medical cannabis along with or in place of medications, as it was reported to decrease the frequency and duration of migraines.
Cannabis has a rooted history for both medical and recreational use. Cannabis has been used since ancient times to manage various conditions, including acute pain, anxiety, cancer pain, chronic pain, depression, headaches, and migraines . It exists in forms that include: Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalis, and Cannabis sativa of which contain 400 compounds . Important compounds of interest include Δ 9 ‐tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), flavonoids, and terpenes . THC and CBD are the major components of different medical cannabis formulations . Both CBD and THC stimulate cannabinoid (CB) receptors throughout the human body, constituting the endocannabinoid system . The endocannabinoid system consists of CB1 (central/peripheral nervous system) and CB2 (peripheral/immune tissues) receptors . CB1 receptor activation leads to decreased neurotransmission of dopamine, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and glutamate. On the other hand, CB2 receptor activation leads to analgesia and decreased immune system function [2-4].