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New study finds cannabis effective for treating migraines

study published last month in the Journal of Pain found a statistically significant reduction in migraine and headache symptoms and recurrences among patients who used cannabis for treatment.

Smoking cannabis reduced the severity and length of migraine episodes by nearly half.

Researchers concluded that headache and migraine severity were reduced by nearly 50% after using cannabis.

The study, conducted by researchers at Washington State University, sampled the effects of smoking cannabis or cannabis concentrates on migraines and headaches among 1,959 anonymous adult participants over 16 months.

The results were extremely encouraging for patients looking for relief. They’re also surprising—and offer a taste of how incomplete current medical research into cannabis is.


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Severe pain eased

The study data indicated that after using medical cannabis, “severe headache episodes are associated with greater reductions in headache severity,” which means that those suffering the most pain achieved the most relief. This is important, as the most severe episodes can be nearly impossible to treat with standard prescription pain medication. The new study indicates that cannabis may actually take the edge off, even in the toughest cases.

The study revealed some surprising results, too.

The authors found that cannabis’ effectiveness wasn’t dependent on the cannabis strain, ratio of THC:CBD, or dosage. “Results indicate that cannabis reduces migraine severity regardless of the type, dose, THC or CBD content,” they wrote. That could indicate that factors other than cannabinoid ratio and concentration are at play.

‘Entirely novel’ findings on concentrates

Perhaps even more strangely: While patients smoking cannabis flower found they needed higher doses over time to achieve the same results, patients smoking cannabis concentrate found their necessary effective dosage actually decreased over time.

Cannabis concentrate had a stronger effect than cannabis flower.

To explain this, the authors point to “evidence that other phytocannabinoids and terpenes present in cannabis flower are reduced in some concentrates,” and suggest that the absence of these compounds in concentrates prevents them from blocking the effects of migraine-targeting cannabinoids from supplemental ingested cannabis.

In other words: The difference in effect between smoking flower and concentrate might not be due to users developing dosage tolerance, “but rather a differential ‘dialing in’ process between those who use flower and those who use concentrates.”

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