Scientists are testing whether cannabis could be used to treat migraines, in what is believed to be the first trial of its kind, as 1 in 5 women and 1 in 5 men suffer from migraines and current treatments including anti-sickness tablets and painkillers remain ineffective for many sufferers, the Mail reported on Thursday.
Multiple compounds found in cannabis, including THC and CBD, are being tested by researchers from the University of California, San Diego, on participants who suffer from severe migraines.
The team hopes the outcomes of the trial could help pave the way for a treatment for patients whose lives are disrupted on a regular basis due to migraines.
Migraines are a common health condition that tend to start in early adulthood, although the cause remains unclear.
“A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head,” the NHS explained, noting that “many people also have symptoms such as feeling sick, being sick and increased sensitivity to light or sound.”
There are many treatment options available, including painkillers and anti-emetics to help with the nausea. Nonetheless, these are ineffective for many people who are compelled to deal with the painful episodes continuously.
Now, researchers have launched a small scale trial to see if cannabis compounds could be effective to treat this health issue. Dr Nathaniel Schuster, who is leading the trial, said: “Many patients who suffer from migraines have experienced them for many years but have never discussed them with their physicians.”
“They are, rather, self-treating with various treatments, such as cannabis.”
“Right now, when patients ask us if cannabis works for migraines, we do not have evidence-based data to answer that question.”
So far, nearly 20 participants have been enrolled who experience migraines every month, are not regular cannabis users and are aged 21-65.
Each participant will receive 1 of 4 vaporized treatments – one with THC, one with CBD, one with a combination of the two, or a placebo.
“Vaporized cannabis may be more effective for those patients who have nausea or gastrointestinal issues with their migraines,” Dr Schuster said.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis products. THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, and is what makes people feel ‘high’, while CBD is thought to work with other elements in the body linked to feelings of well-being.