US Researchers Begin First Clinical Trials Using Cannabis Products as Migraine Treatment

2.3 min readPublished On: May 27th, 2021By

SAN DIEGO – Although there are numerous FDA-approved treatments on the market, experts say many patients are turning to cannabis products containing THC and/or CBD, an ingredient of cannabis that is not psychoactive, to treat their migraines.

“Many patients who suffer from migraines have experienced them for many years but have never discussed them with their physicians. They are, rather, self-treating with various treatments, such as cannabis,” said Nathaniel Schuster, MD, pain management specialist and headache neurologist at UC San Diego Health and investigator at the UC San Diego Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. “Right now, when patients ask us if cannabis works for migraines, we do not have evidence-based data to answer that question.”

Nathaniel Schuster

Nathaniel Schuster, MD, pain management specialist (pictured) and headache neurologist at UC San Diego Health and investigator at the UC San Diego Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, and team are conducting the first known randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial looking at cannabis as a potentially effective treatment for acute migraines.

Schuster and his team at UC San Diego Health are conducting the first known randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial looking at cannabis as a potentially effective treatment for acute migraines.

Approximately 20 participants are currently enrolled in the clinical trial. Knigge is one of them.

“When Dr. Schuster introduced the trial to me, I decided I wanted to participate. I was at a point where I was willing to try anything that could help manage my migraines,” said Knigge.

The goal is to enroll 90 participants who will be randomized to treat four separate migraine attacks with four different treatments; one each with THC, CBD, a combination of the two and a placebo. The products are administered via a vaporizer.

“Vaporized cannabis may be more effective for those patients who have nausea or gastrointestinal issues with their migraines,” said Schuster, assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

To qualify for the clinical trial, patients must experience migraines every month, must not be a regular cannabis user or use opioids, and must be age 21-65.

“I am proud and grateful to be part of a study that could lead to more tools in the toolbox for those of us who suffer from migraines,” said Knigge. “It could mean one more option when all other options have not worked. This is truly significant for patients whose lives are disrupted on a regular basis from migraines.”

Schuster said future studies would include comparing different doses of cannabinoids.

This study is funded by the Migraine Research Foundation.

To learn more about the clinical trial and how to enroll, visit UC San Diego Health Clinical Trials  or contact Phirum Nguyen at [email protected] or 858-822-3108.

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