Cannabinoids effective for migraine prophylaxis

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A cannabinoid combination achieved a reduction in attacks that was similar to that seen with amitriptyline.

A study presented at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Amsterdam last weekend, has determined that cannabinoids are as effective as current pharmaceutical therapies for migraine prophylaxis.

In a phase 2 Italian study, 79 patients with chronic migraine were given a daily dose of either 25mg of amitriptyline or 200mg of a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)- cannabidiol (CBD) combination for a period of three months. Forty-eight cluster headache patients also received either 200mg THC-CBD or 480mg of verapamil daily. For acute pain, an additional 200mg TCH-CBD was administered for both types of headaches.

While the TCH-CBD combination and amitriptyline achieved similar reduction in attacks, the severity and number of cluster headache attacks only fell slightly. In the treatment of acute pain, cannabinoids reduced pain intensity among migraine patients by 43.5 per cent. The same results were seen in cluster headache patients, but only in those who had experienced migraine in childhood.

“We were able to demonstrate that cannabinoids are an alternative to established treatments in migraine prevention. That said, they are only suited for use in the acute treatment of cluster headaches in patients with a history of migraine from childhood on,” lead author, Dr Maria Nicolodi summarised.

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