Article by Angela Stelmakowich, Growth Op
Migraine sufferers who self-medicate with cannabis could be in store for even more hurt in the form of so-called rebound headaches, notes a new U.S. study that suggests weed use may be associated with developing “rebound” headache.
Chronic migraine patients with “rebound” or medication overuse headache (MOH) are advised that reducing “cannabis use may help treat MOH effectively,” notes the abstract of the retrospective study.
In findings to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) 73rd Annual Meeting this April, researchers explain that rebound or MOH occurs “when pain medication is overused by patients who have an underlying primary headache disorder such as migraine,” according to the AAN.
Factors that could lead to rebound headache include frequency of migraines, overuse of other medications for acute migraine and how long a person has had chronic migraine, the AAN statement notes.
Investigators considered the records of 368 adults from headache clinics between 2015 and 2019 who had chronic migraine — defined as 15 or more headache days per month — for at least a year. In all, 150 participants were using cannabis and 218 were not.
Researchers extracted information on, among other things, MOH diagnosis, migraine frequency, current cannabis use duration, types of cannabis products used and overused acute migraine medications, the study notes.
Of all participants, 212 experienced rebound headache and 156 did not. Those using weed, though, “were six times more likely to have medication overuse headache than those who did not use cannabis,” the AAN points out.
Lead author Dr. Niushen Zhang, a member of the Stanford University School of Medicine and an AAN member, acknowledges there is evidence that cannabis helps with treating some types of chronic pain.
But the study’s findings indicate that those consume cannabis to treat migraines face “significantly increased odds” of also experiencing rebound headache compared to participants who weren’t using weed.
The study further indicates that participants who were using opioids were also more likely to currently be using cannabis. “Previous research has shown that opioids and cannabis can both influence the part of the brain called the periaqueductal gray, which has been linked to migraine,” the AAN reports.
“Current cannabis use, opioid use and MOH were significantly associated,” states the study. “Bidirectional cannabis-opioid association was observed — use of one increased use of the other,” it adds.
Pointing out the study was retrospective, investigators suggested that longitudinal studies will be needed to more fully “explore cause and effect of cannabis use and medication overuse headache in patients with chronic migraine.”