Although medical marijuana use has always been controversial, some people really claim it to be the ‘wonder drug’ which has numerous benefits ranging from relieving insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, and pain to treating epilepsy.

A recent study has reported that inhaled cannabis reduced headache severity and migraine pain by almost 50%. The study has also disproved that cannabis resulted in ‘overuse headache’ (headache caused due to frequent use of analgesics). Although they did note that the patients used larger quantities of cannabis over time, indicating tolerance to the drug.

The researchers from Washington State University said they were motivated to do this study since a substantial number of individuals say they use cannabis for migraines and headaches but only very few studies have addressed the topic.

They analyzed data from the archives from the ‘Strainprint’ app which lets people track symptoms before and after using medical cannabis bought from Canadian sellers. The data was submitted by more than 1300 patients who used the app more than 12,200 times to track changes in headache from before to after cannabis use and several others who used to track changes in their migraine pain.

"We wanted to approach this in an ecologically valid way, which is to look at actual patients using whole-plant cannabis to medicate in their own homes and environments," ScienceDaily quoted the study’s lead author Carrie Cuttler, Assistant professor of psychology. "These are also very big data, so we can more appropriately and accurately generalize to the greater population of patients using cannabis to manage these conditions."

The researchers also found a small gender difference- Men reported larger reductions in pain than women. They also noted that cannabis concentrated like cannabis oil was more effective in reducing headache severity compared to cannabis flower.

More key findings of the study:

  • No significant difference in pain reduction among cannabis strains which had a higher or lower concentration of cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)- two most commonly used cannabis constituents.
  • Since cannabis constitutes of more than 100 cannabinoids, the findings of the study suggest that different cannabinoids might play an important role in relieving headache and migraine pain.

Further research on cannabis use in reducing pain symptoms since the study is limited to the ‘Strainprint’ app, relying on a self-selected group of individuals who might already anticipate that cannabis will work to reduce their pain symptoms.