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Study: Cannabinoids May Help Relieve Migraines

Researchers Investigated Migraines and Cannabinoids

A team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco recently published a study in The Journal of Neurosciencecentered around the endocannabinoid system and its role in the treatment of migraine headaches. According to their findings, the activation of cannabinoid receptors in the brain may help modulate pain signals.

The research team was comprised of five Department of Neuorology members called the ‘Headache Group’. Knowing that cannabinoids have been tied to the perception of neuropathic pain, the researchers wanted to see if they would have similar success treating the throbbing nature of migraine headaches.

Endocannabinoids May Help Relieve Migraine Headaches

The Headache Group investigated the ‘periaqueductal’ gray matter, the part of the brain that modulates the descending nature of pain, in rats. In particular, they measured the activity of pain receptors and nerve fibers associated with headaches.

‘A delta fibers’ are nerves that respond to cold and pressure. According to the abstract of the Headache Group’s study, activation of the CB1 receptor reduced the amount of A delta fibers by as much as 19%, but there was no change in sensory information from skin on the face. This suggests that the pressure relief was the result of nervous system interactions.

“The underlying mechanism of migraine relief may involve an interaction between cannabinoid and serotonin receptors.”

Another bit of proof for CB1-induced migraine relief was discovered when the Headache Group realized that the inhibition of the cannabinoid receptor prevented a decrease in pressure A delta fibers. As the researchers learned, the mechanism that underlies migraine headaches is quite complicated.

Triptans are a family of medicines used to temporarily relieve migraines that are thought to affect serotonin receptors. However, the Headache Group found that the underlying mechanism of migraine relief may involve an interaction between cannabinoid and serotonin receptors in certain areas of the brain. Due to this, the Headache Group believes the endocannabinoid system may be involved in triptan-related relief as well.

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