A study from researchers at the University of New Mexico has found that more than nine out of 10 migraine patients reported that inhaled cannabis provided relief for their symptoms. A report on the research, titled “Alleviative effects of cannabis flower on migraine and headache,” was published this month in the Journal of Integrative Medicine.

To conduct the study, researchers tracked the effects of inhaled herbal cannabis on the symptoms experienced by 699 migraine sufferers over a period of 32 months. Participants self-administered cannabis while at home and reported their use and its effect on symptoms via the smartphone application Releaf. The intensity of pain related to migraine or headache was measured on a scale of zero to ten prior to and immediately following cannabis consumption.

“According to the current results, cannabis flower appears to be effective at reducing headache- and migraine-related pain intensity for most people that choose to use it,” the authors of the study wrote.

“It seems possible that the use of cannabis flower, combined with other behavioral modifications, might offer some patients a natural, safer, and more effective treatment regimen, compared to the use of some conventional prescription pharmaceuticals,” they added.

The study found that 94% of participants reported relief of symptoms within two hours of cannabis inhalation. On average, study participants experienced a reduction of 3.3 points on the ten-point scale. Varieties of cannabis with a THC content of 10% or higher were found to be most effective at relieving migraine symptoms. Males tended to achieve greater relief than females, and younger participants reported greater benefit than older patients.

“These results suggest that whole dried Cannabis flower may be an effective medication for treatment of migraine- and headache-related pain, but the effectiveness differs according to characteristics of the Cannabis plant, the combustion methods, and the age and gender of the patient,” the researchers concluded.

Research Reveals More Evidence Of The Entourage Effect

Researcher Jegason Diviant, who worked on the migraine study as well as another one that used the Releaf app to track the effect of cannabis on depression, reported that many patients are experiencing better results with whole cannabis flower than those reported with refined cannabinoid formulations. The findings give further credence to the entourage effect widely associated with cannabis use.

“We are seeing very encouraging evidence that cannabis can be safe and effective for treating both depression and chronic pain,” Diviant said. “Phytocannabinoid isolates, such as THC or CBD, are less effective treatment options than whole-spectrum cannabis products. However, it is not enough to simply educate the public that whole-spectrum cannabis is superior to cannabis-derived isolates. There are thousands of cannabis strains, also known as chemotypes or chemovars, and they all have a unique phytocannabinoid and terpene profile.”

The researcher noted the wide range of effects that different varieties of cannabis can provide and urged a change in federal cannabis policy to spur more study.

“I predict that we will identify specific chemotypes that are optimal for treating various mental and physical health disorders as well as chemotypes that may be contraindicated for these disorders,” Diviant added. “This research is critical and essential for public health, and for us to properly conduct this vital research, the Schedule I classification must be lifted.”

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