The cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has proven to be effective in treating migraine-type pain in rats – adding to evidence that the compound may be beneficial in treating human patients.
Researchers from Washington State University injected allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), which been shown to mimic migraine-like pain in rodents, into a group of rats. The pain caused by the AITC restricts certain behaviours, such as wheel-running.
The experiments indicated THC administered immediately after the onset of headache prevented AITC-induced reduction of wheel running. However, this anti-migraine effect was absent if THC was administered 90 minutes after AITC microinjection.
“These findings support anecdotal evidence for the use of cannabinoids as a treatment for migraine in humans and implicate the CB1 receptor as a therapeutic target for migraine,” state the researchers.
The study paper “Anti-migraine effect of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol in the female rat” was recently published in the European Journal of Pharmacology
While it’s tragic that animals are subjected to pain as part of some experiments – and anyone who has had a migraine would attest to just how painful it is – the work is important and not the only study to demonstrate medical cannabis could have some applications in treating migraine.
Last year we reported a University of Colorado study that found migraine headache frequency decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month with the use of medicinal cannabis. A study reported this year indicated a combination of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) could be effective in treating migraine and cluster headaches in some patients.
In both those studies, cannabinoids were being trialed as a preventative measure.
Migraine is a common condition negatively impacting the lives of millions of people around the world. 12% to 28% of the world’s adult population suffers from migraine at some point in their lives. For many, these will be isolated events, but for others it can be a chronic and crippling condition.
As well as the suffering caused, migraines have a hefty economic impact. Estimates of the cost of missed labour in the US have ranged from $1.4 billion to $17 billion a year.
While a number of conventional treatments are available, they tend to have limited efficacy and are accompanied by unpleasant side effects.