Here’s why using cannabis to treat migraine might increase your risk of rebound headaches

A recent study suggested that people using cannabis for migraine relief may develop rebound headaches, similar to the overuse headaches experienced by people who use too much migraine medication. The preliminary study was published on March 1 and will be presented at the 73rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology to be held virtually April 17-22, 2021.

“Many people with chronic migraines already self-medicate with cannabis, and there is some evidence that cannabis can help treat other types of chronic pain,” said study author Niushen Zhang, MD , from Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California. and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

“However, we found that people who used cannabis had a significantly higher chance of also having headaches from overuse of medication, or rebound headaches, compared to people who did not use. of cannabis, ”Zhang added.

For the study, researchers looked at the records of 368 people who had chronic migraines for at least a year. Chronic migraine is defined as 15 or more headache days per month.

A total of 150 people used cannabis and 218 did not. Researchers looked at who suffered from headache due to overuse of drugs and other factors that could affect the development of overuse headache, such as frequency of migraines, overuse of other drugs for acute migraine. and the duration of chronic migraine.

Of the 368 people, 212 suffered from headaches due to overuse of medication and 156 did not. Researchers found that people who used cannabis were six times more likely to experience headaches from overuse of drugs than those who did not.

People who used opioids were also more likely to currently use cannabis. Previous research has shown that opioids and cannabis can both influence the part of the brain called periaqueductal gray, which has been linked to migraine.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine, which affects about 12% of the population, is a severe, potentially disabling headache that can cause significant pain, as well as sensitivity to light and smell.

In areas where its use has been legalized, cannabis is often prescribed with or in place of medications such as antidepressants or beta blockers to help control symptoms.

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