A new survey published in The Journal of Headache and Pain looks at how patients use medical cannabis for migraines and headaches compared to chronic pain conditions. The results provide new information on the types of strains, “biochemical profiles” of cannabis, patients are using, often in lieu of more traditional pain meds.
“There have been a multitude of studies showing benefit in many forms of chronic pain,” reads the study. “But there have been no studies attempting to differentiate which types and strains of cannabis along with associated compositions of cannabinoids and terpenes may be more effective for certain subsets of pain.”
A 2016 Marijuana Business Daily analysis of the most commonly registered conditions for state medical cannabis programs found that over 64% of patients in states that publicly released this data had listed severe and/or chronic pain as a condition that they were treating with cannabis.
This new survey found that nearly one-quarter of the 2032 respondents asked use medical cannabis to treat headaches. Among patients with headache conditions, the survey reports that 88% “were treating probable migraines with cannabis.” Some studies, like one released in 2016 from researchers from the University of Colorado, have found that the frequency of migraines suffered by patients can be reduced with medical cannabis.
The study also found that hybrid strains, a cross between sativa and indica, are the most popular “across all pain subtypes.” Specifically, the most popular strain according to participants in the study who are afflicted with migraines and/or headaches, was “OG Shark.”
The survey also found that 41.2–59.5% of respondents were swapping out a prescription medication for cannabis, 40.5–72.8% of which were doing so for opioids drugs.
“Prospective studies are needed,” concludes the study, “but results may provide early insight into optimizing crossbred cannabis strains, synergistic biochemical profiles, dosing, and patterns of use in the treatment of headache, migraine, and chronic pain syndromes.”