Research Roundup: many migraine sufferers are turning to cannabis for relief

Also: women use cannabis to manage bothersome menopause symptoms; older adults who use weed for chronic pain suffer no cognitive loss

migraine-cannabis

According to a study based on data from 9,885 people in the U.S. and Canada, migraine sufferers are turning to cannabis to reduce the intensity of pain symptoms. Photo by fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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According to a study based on data from 9,885 people in the U.S. and Canada, migraine sufferers are turning to cannabis to reduce the intensity of pain symptoms.

The Singapore-based health-care technology company Healint gathered the data through its migraine-tracking app, Migraine Buddy. It showed that 30 percent of migraine patients in the U.S. have used cannabis to relieve pain. Of those, 82 percent reported finding cannabis useful in reducing their level of pain.  

In a September 23 press release, Healint noted that 40 million Americans suffer from “disabling migraine attacks”. The company cited a study study published in The Journal of Pain in November 2019. Researchers found that inhaling cannabis reduced patients’ severity of headaches and migraines by approximately 50 percent.

“Cannabis is becoming a prominent treatment option for chronic pain patients, especially for migraineurs,” said Healint CEO and co-founder Francois Cadiou. “With more and more states across the United States legalizing medical marijuana, migraine patients are becoming acquainted with cannabis as a natural remedy that can help alleviate migraines and even prevent them. Research about the benefits of cannabis use among migraine patients is slowly emerging, but more must be done to properly inform individuals about the use and dosage of medical marijuana to treat migraines.”

Mary Jane for menopause

A new study indicates that a growing number of women are either using cannabis or want to use it to manage menopause symptoms.

The study looked at a sample of 232 women in Northern California. The subjects had participated in the Midlife Women Veterans Health Survey. More than half of the women (whose mean age was 55.95 years) reported bothersome menopause symptoms. These included hot flashes and night sweats, insomnia, and genitourinary symptoms.

The North American Menopause Society says that roughly 27% of those sampled reported having used or were currently using cannabis to manage their symptoms. An additional 10% of participants expressed an interest in trying cannabis to manage menopause symptoms in the future. In contrast, only 19% reported using a more traditional type of menopause symptom management, such as hormone therapy.

Carolyn Gibson, PhD, MPH, is a psychologist and health services researcher at San Francisco VA Health Care System. She was the study’s lead author. “These findings suggest that cannabis use to manage menopause symptoms may be relatively common,” Gibson said in a press release. “However, we do not know whether cannabis use is safe or effective for menopause symptom management or whether women are discussing these decisions with their healthcare providers–particularly in the VA, where cannabis is considered an illegal substance under federal guidelines. This information is important for healthcare providers, and more research in this area is needed.”

Gibson and her colleagues presented their research during the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society on September 28.

Chronic pain and cognition

Older adults who use medical cannabis to treat chronic pain do not experience a loss in cognitive performance. This is according to a cross-sectional study from a group of Israeli researchers. They published their results in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

The study compared two groups of chronic pain patients aged 50 and older. Participants in the first group had medical cannabis (MC) licenses. Those in the second group, however, did not.

In their abstract, the study’s authors write: “Groups did not significantly differ in terms of cognitive performance measures.”

The authors therefore conclude that medical cannabis “does not have a widespread impact on cognition in older chronic pain patients”. However, they consider their study to be only the first step. To that end, they call for future research into the implications of late-life cannabis use for brain health.

Thanks for the tip

Have you read a recent study that sheds new light on the topic of cannabis? Are you a researcher working on a clinical trial? If so, send me a link and I might feature it in a future edition of CannCentral’s Research Roundup. Thanks!

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