Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Medical Marijuana For Migraines

One needn't look far to find research pointing to the amazing benefits of medical marijuana for certain medical conditions. And because medical cannabis is being used to treat multiple chronic pain conditions, migraine sufferers are wanting to know if it can help them also. New research may suggest medical cannabis is useful not only for treating migraines acutely, but also for preventing them. While the legalization of marijuana is still highly controversial among individuals and in many states (I live in Indiana where medical marijuana is still not legal), one cannot dismiss the fact there are amazing uses for medical marijuana in the area of pain management. Those who have lived in chronic pain, from either migraines or other diseases, are willing to try almost anything. I know I am, particularly after failing multiple treatments.

Dr. Eric Baron, a top ABPN Board Certified Neurologist and a UCNS Diplomat in Headache Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, spoke specifically on this topic at The Migraine World Summit this year. He gave an excellent history of medical cannabis and the potential benefit for migraine and pain. While it's not surprising cannabis was being used in ancient times by the Greeks and Chinese for pain--who knew as early as the mid-1800's, the Western World was also using it, and specifically in the treatment and prevention of migraines? Dr. Baron discusses this and also gives an in depth summary of why medical cannabis was made illegal in the US.

As a headache doctor that sees chronic patients daily, Dr. Baron discusses why cannabis might also work for migraineurs. Cannabis works through "neurological pathways and electrical channels" in the brain that could also influence the same receptors as modern migraine medication and opioid medications. For example Triptans, a class of abortive migraine medications target the serotonin pathways in the brain. Cannabinoids seem to act in the same way. A problem however, is there have been no clinical trials for medical marijuana and migraine. According to Dr. Baron, we only have case reports and a retrospective study done in 2016. This study looked at 121 patients who used medical cannabis to treat migraines over the course of months. Again as a retrospective study, it showed 85% of patients had a significant decrease in migraines, averaging a decrease from 10.2 migraines a month, down to 4.6. There is definitely a need for more research and clinical trials for the use of medical cannabis and migraines.

You can watch Dr. Baron's fascinating discussion below. You can also follow him on Twitter: 
+Neuralgroover .

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