WSU study shows cannabis cuts migraine pain in half, beating common OTC pain killers

A new study out of Washington State University has found that inhaling cannabis ("marijuana") may drastically reduce the pain caused by headaches and migraines. The study, which was recently published in Journal of Pain, assessed the potential pain-relieving effects of cannabis for migraine sufferers by soliciting feedback in real-time during an episode of head pain. The research into this topic remains rare.

The study involves an analysis of data from the Strainprint app, which enables medical cannabis users to record the symptoms they experience before and after using medicinal cannabis products. In terms of migraines and headaches, the study found that the Strainprint app had been used to track the effects of cannabis on the conditions by 1,300 and 653 people, respectively. More than 20,000 changes in headaches and migraines were collectively reported.

Based on the data shared by sufferers, the study found that inhaling cannabis was able to reduce the severity of headaches by around 47-percent and the severity of migraines by around 49-percent. The individuals who self-reported this data said that they had used 'whole plant cannabis' to get these benefits as opposed to something like THC tablets or vaping oil.

The researchers note that men appeared to benefit from the use of cannabis slightly more than women at 90-percent versus 89-percent. When looking at reports involving cannabis products beyond just whole plants, the study found that people who reported using cannabis concentrates were more likely to experience a greater decrease in the headache or migraine severity. However, over time, the people reported having to increase their dosage, hinting at a tolerance effect.

Assuming the results are accurate, the data indicates that cannabis may be more effective for reducing headaches and migraines than common over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, though the researchers do note that the self-reported nature of the study means it is likely the benefits were slightly overestimated. Despite that, the findings indicate that cannabis may be worth studying with future placebo-controlled studies to determine its suitability for migraine and headache sufferers.