Skip to main content

Cannabis Associated With Improvements In Patients With Headache Disorders


Anyone that has experienced a headache knows that it is no fun at all. A headache is a painful sensation in any part of a person’s head, with pain ranging from minor to severe. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Chemical activity in your brain, the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull, or the muscles of your head and neck (or some combination of these factors) can play a role in primary headaches.”

For some patients, headaches can be very common. Patients that fit that description have a condition known as ‘headache disorder,’ which is characterized by recurrent headaches. Headache disorder is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system.

The cannabis plant may possess the power to help people effectively treat headache disorders, as demonstrated by a recent study from the United Kingdom. Below is more information about it via a news release from NORML:

London, United Kingdom: The use of cannabis products is associated with symptomatic improvements in patients with headache disorders, according to observational trail data published in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics.

British investigators assessed the safety and efficacy of cannabis-derived products in 97 patients diagnosed with migraine and other headache disorders. Study subjects were participants in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, and each of them possessed a doctor’s authorization to access cannabis. Study participants consumed cannabis by either vaporizing marijuana flowers or by ingesting plant-derived extracts containing both THC and CBD. Researchers assessed subjects’ symptoms compared to baseline at one, three, and six-months.

Cannabis therapy was associated with sustained improvements in pain, anxiety, sleep, and other health-related outcomes. Fewer than one-in-five patients reported experiencing any adverse events from cannabis. Most events were perceived to be mild.

“[While] these results provide promise with respect to the changes in health-related quality of life experienced by those with primary headache disorders, there is a still a requirement for further RCTs [randomized placebo-controlled trials] to be conducted to understand the true efficacy of CBMPs [cannabis-based medicinal products] for this indication,” authors concluded. “However, whilst these are awaited, the present study outcomes with respect to safety and efficacy, provides useful insights to inform current clinical practice.”

According to a systematic review of the literature published in December, the inhalation of cannabis flowers is generally effective and well-tolerated among patients with migraine. Authors of the review concluded: “[M]edical marijuana has a significant clinical response by reducing the length and frequency of migraines. No severe adverse effects were noted. Due to its effectiveness and convenience, medical marijuana therapy may be helpful for patients suffering from migraines.”

Patients enrolled in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry with diagnoses of post-traumatic stressdepressionrefractory epilepsy, and inflammatory bowel disease have also demonstrated symptomatic improvements following cannabis therapy.

Full text of the study, “UK Cannabis Registry: Assessment of clinical outcomes in patients with headache disorders,” appears in Expert Review of NeurotherapeuticsAdditional information on cannabis and headaches is available from NORML’s publication, Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids.

United Kingdom