Tomorrow, the National Institutes of Health will be kicking off a clinical trial for a new cannabis-derived drug to be used to reduce the number of migraine headaches an individual experiences each year. The trial is being conducted at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) in Bethesda, Maryland.
A new study published in the JAMA Neurology journal is the first to investigate the role of medical marijuana in treating migraine headaches. The research team from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in California found that injecting small amounts of cannabis into the blood stream significantly reduced the number of migraine headaches a person suffered by as much as 50% compared to patients who did not take the drug.Research and anecdotal reports have already shown that cannabis can be used to treat migraine symptoms. However, there have been no clinical trials on the efficacy of cannabis against migraine, at least not until now. Science Alert reported on the first clinical trial using cannabis to treat migraines. This is good news for people suffering from this debilitating disease. It’s more than just a headache. Although cannabis is used to treat pain, including headaches, the clinical trials required for cannabis as a therapy are still in their infancy. If you don’t know what a clinical trial is, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) explains that clinical trials are studies conducted on people to evaluate a medical, surgical, or behavioral intervention. Clinical trials help researchers determine if the treatment is safe and effective for the individual. Most available research on the safety and efficacy of cannabis is limited to animal studies, anecdotal reports, and studies analyzing participants’ reports.
First clinical trial of migraine and cannabis
Science Alert explains that this is the first clinical trial of cannabis for the treatment of migraine – a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. This means that the participants in the experiment are divided into groups, where neither the participants nor the experimenters know who will receive which treatment. This includes randomizing the groups to cannabis treatment or placebo treatment. This gives researchers a so-called control group, allowing them to compare the effectiveness of cannabis as a potential treatment with people who are given a placebo (a substance that has no therapeutic effect). They further explained that the study currently has 20 participants, but that the University of California, San Diego hopes to recruit at least 70 more volunteers. Science Alert explains that this clinical trial is critical because of its impact on the quality of life of those affected. In addition to pain, migraines can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound, often forcing the patient to stop their activities and lie down. UC San Diego explains that participants will be given THC, CBD, a combination of both drugs or a placebo. They also explain that existing treatments for migraine are not equally effective in everyone and that the longer a person takes a treatment, the greater the risk that it will become ineffective due to the development of tolerance.
Migraineurs tend to self-medicate
Nathaniel Schuster, a neurologist who specializes in headaches, says many migraineurs have had migraines for years, but never told their doctor. Instead, they self-medicate with various drugs, such as cannabis. He also explains that right now, when patients ask if cannabis helps with migraines, we don’t have the evidence to answer that question, but that may not be the case once the clinical trials are completed. The University of California, San Diego, has announced a clinical trial based on the personal experience of Allison Kinge, who says migraines cause her a sharp pain that feels like her brain is being squeezed. She further explained that at times, approximately 25 days per month, she had a pain score of 6 or higher, which significantly impacted her quality of life, as one can imagine with such constant pain. Kynge also says that her migraines are triggered by the weather, stress and lack of sleep, and that when the pain is at its worst, she has to stay in bed all day without turning on the light. She also said that migraines hinder her role as a mother and that she is participating in this clinical trial because she is willing to try anything that can help her migraines. She said she was proud and grateful to be part of this study, which could lead to new tools in the arsenal of those of us who suffer from migraines. This can be another option when all else fails, which is really important for patients whose lives are regularly disrupted by migraines. Dr. Schuster also explains that vaporized cannabis may be more effective for patients with migraines accompanied by nausea or gastrointestinal problems. Migraineurs who want to participate in the study must suffer from migraines every month and must not use cannabis or opioids regularly. In addition, participants must be between 21 and 65 years of age. If you are interested in volunteering for a clinical trial, please register on the UC San Diego Health Clinical Trials website or contact Firum Nguyen at [email protected] Chane Ley, aka Button Fairy, is a South African cannabis advocate and enthusiast with an infectious personality and a great love of travel. She loves to educate people and challenge standards.