Can CBD + THC treat migraines? The first-ever US clinical trial on the question aims to find out

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Top notch pain researchers at the University of California, San Diego, are looking into whether medical cannabis can help people who suffer from migraine headaches – a largely untreatable condition that affects 1 in 7 people, and women at 3 times the rate of men. It’s the first clinical trial on CBD + THC and migraines ever conducted in the United States.

Study participant Allison Knigge, who was in elementary school when she started to experience migraines that continued to get progressively worse as time went on, especially after the birth of her son, explains what they do to her:

I would describe my migraines as a piercing pain. It feels like my brain is being squeezed. It causes extreme sensitivity to light and sound and horrible nausea. There have been times when I have been at a pain level of 6 or higher for approximately 25 days out of the month. They impact my quality of life.

Like most migraine sufferers, Knigge has tried several medications over the years but none have been able to fully manage her pain. So when she was offered the chance to participate in the trial she didn’t hesitate: “I was at a point where I was willing to try anything that could help manage my migraines.”

Allison is one of 90 participants who’ll be placed in 1 of 4 groups: CBD, THC, a combination of the two, and a placebo. The compounds will be administered via a vaporizer because vaporized cannabis may be more effective for those patients who have nausea, said pain management specialist Nathaniel Shuster, who’s running the study.

Shuster says his team is responding to patient demand and a gap in the research:

Many patients who suffer from migraines have experienced them for many years but have never discussed them with their physicians. They are, rather, self-treating with various treatments, such as cannabis. Right now, when patients ask us if cannabis works for migraines, we do not have evidence-based data to answer that question.

And he’s just the one to do it. His impressive resume shows him to be lead or co-author in 24 publications on pain, mostly headache pain.

His study concludes this December and the eagerly awaited results should come out the first half of 2022.

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