Allison Knigge began having migraines when she was in elementary school. They became progressively worse over time, particularly after the birth of her son.
“My migraines are described as piercing pain. It’s as if my mind is being squeezed. It causes extreme sensitivity to light and sound, as well as horrendous nausea “Knigge stated. “I’ve experienced pain levels of 6 or higher for approximately 25 days out of the month. They have an impact on my quality of life.”
Migraines cause symptoms that are frequently severe and incapacitating. They cause severe throbbing or pulsating headaches, usually on one side of the head, and are frequently accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and/or extreme sensitivity to light and sound. A migraine attack can last for hours, days, or even weeks.
Knigge claims she has tried a number of medications over the years, but none have been able to completely relieve her migraines.
“The weather, stress, and a lack of sleep all contribute to my migraines. When the pain becomes unbearable, I spend the entire day in bed, with the lights turned off “Knigge stated. “When I have a migraine, I am completely incapacitated, which is difficult as a mother.”
Despite the fact that there are numerous FDA-approved treatments on the market, experts say that many patients are turning to cannabis products containing THC and/or CBD, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, to treat their migraines.
“Many migraine patients have been suffering from them for many years but have never discussed them with their doctors. They are, instead, self-medicate with various treatments such as cannabis “said Nathaniel Schuster, MD, UC San Diego Health’s pain management specialist and headache neurologist, and investigator at the UC San Diego Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. “Right now, we don’t have evidence-based data to answer patients’ questions about whether cannabis works for migraines.”
Schuster and his colleagues at UC San Diego Health are conducting the first known randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of cannabis as a potential treatment for acute migraines.
A total of 20 people are currently enrolled in the clinical trial. Knigge is among them.
“I decided to take part in the trial after hearing about it from Dr. Schuster. I had reached a point where I was willing to try anything to help me manage my migraines “Knigge stated.
The goal is to enroll 90 participants who will be randomized to receive four different treatments for four separate migraine attacks: one with THC, one with CBD, one with a combination of the two, and one with a placebo. A vaporizer is used to administer the products.
“Vaporized cannabis may be more effective for patients who have nausea or gastrointestinal issues with their migraines,” said Shuster, an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of California, San Diego.
To be eligible for the clinical trial, patients must have migraines at least once a month, be a non-regular cannabis user, not use opioids, and be between the ages of 21 and 65.
“I am proud and grateful to be a part of a study that may result in more tools in the toolbox for those of us who suffer from migraines,” Knigge said. “It could mean that you have one more option if all of your other options have failed. This is extremely important for patients whose lives are regularly disrupted by migraines.”
Schuster stated that future research would compare different cannabinoid doses.