A new study, conducted by faculty members from our school and published online ahead of print in the January edition of Pharmacotherapy, reveals that patients diagnosed with migraine headaches saw a significant drop in migraine occurrences when treated with medical marijuana.
Originating from a research project that Assistant Professor Danielle Rhyne undertook during her PGY-2 residency last year at the school, the retrospective study examined the charts of patients diagnosed with migraines and treated with medical marijuana between Jan. 2010 and Sept. 2014. The team included Danielle Rhyne, PharmD; senior author and Professor Laura Borgelt, PharmD; co-authors and Assistant Professor Sarah Anderson, PharmD; and Margaret Gedde, MD, of Gedde Whole Health, a private medical practice in Colorado that specializes in recommending medical marijuana for a variety of conditions. They found the frequency of migraines dropped from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month, a number considered statistically and clinically significant.
“Hundreds of patient charts were reviewed and those patients meeting inclusion criteria showed substantial improvement in their migraines which suggests an improved ability to function and feel better,” said Rhyne. Of the 121 patients studied, 103 reported a decrease in monthly migraines while 15 reported the same number and three saw an increase in migraines. “I am really excited by the interest this study is generating as this may provide another form of treatment for migraine sufferers. But there is more research to do on the topic,” said Rhyne.
The ideal study, says Rhyne, would be a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial with a marijuana washout period prior to start. It would also require providing subjects with standardized quantities and potencies of medical marijuana while tracking the occurrence of migraines just like prescription drug studies. But given federal anti-drug laws that kind of study would likely require legislative changes before it could be done.
“We really want to stress that if patients are considering medical marijuana, they should talk to their health care provider and then follow up so we can track the impact of their overall treatment,” said Rhyne. “Open communication is necessary because we need to know how all of these treatments work together.”