Is it right, that cannabis helps in migraine?
(Institute of Medicine (U.S.A.)):
There is clearly a need for improved migraine medications. Sumatriptan is currently the best available medication for migraine headaches, but fails to completely abolish migraine symptoms in about 30 percent of migraine patents. Marijuana has been proposed numerous times as a treatment for migraine headaches (reviewed by Russo), but there are almost no clinical data on the use of marijuana or cannabinoids for migraine. Our search of the literature since 1975 yielded only one scientific publication on the subject. This report presents three cases in which cessation of daily marijuana smoking was followed by migraine attacks, which is not convincing evidence that marijuana relieves migraine headaches. (...) Various individuals have claimed that marijuana relieves their migraines, but at this stage there are no conclusive clinical data or published surveys about the effect of cannabinoids on migraines.
Joy JE, Watson SJ, Benson JA, eds. Marijuana and medicine: Assessing the science base. Institute of Medicine. Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1999.
I am a scientist at a medical school, studying basic cancer research. I suffer from severe migraine attacks. (...) About half of my migraine attacks are severe enough that I must spend the night in the hospital getting rehydrated by intravenous infusions, and given very powerful narcotics such as morphine or Demerol. Under my doctor's care, I tried every legally available migraine and anti-nausea drug (...). None had any effect at all on my symptoms. (...) After reading about chemotherapy patients using marijuana to treat similar sounding nausea, I tried smoking it as a treatment during an attack of migraine. Amazingly, it alleviated my symptoms, particularly the nausea, but the headache pain as well.
Website of Lester Grinspoon: http://www.rxmarihuana.com/migraines_hms.htm.
See also: Grinspoon L, Bakalar JB. Marihuana, the forbidden medicine. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993, 1997. (Translated into several languages).
Cannabis has a documented history as a treatment for migraine dating back at least 1200 years to the work of Sabur ibn Sahl in Persia. Folk use in Sumeria and India may extend that figure back as much as 4000 years. Cannabis was a mainstream medicine in Europe and the USA for migraine between 1842 and 1942 before its prohibition under false pretenses. Cannabis has been shown to affect multiple migraine mechanisms via effects as an anti-inflammatory, and through several neurotransmitter systems (serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate), as well as by interactions with the endogenous opioid system. Many migraineurs report improvement with cannabis. This figure is about 80% in my experience.
More on cannabis in migraine in:
Russo EB. Cannabis for migraine treatment: The once and future prescription? An historical and scientific review. Pain 1998;76(1):3-8.
Russo EB. Hemp for headache: An in-depth historical and scientific review of cannabis in migraine treatment. J Cannabis Ther 2001;1(2):21-92.
Russo EB. Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Migraine Treatment. In: Grotenhermen F, Russo E, eds. Cannabis and Cannabinoids. Pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutic potential. Haworth Press, Binghamton/New York 2001, in press.