Experience of Migraine, its Severity, and Perceived Efficacy of Treatments among Cannabis Users


Laurel P.Gibson, Leah N.Hitchcock, Angela D. Bryan, L. Cinnamon Bidwell

Published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine

November 2020


As the legal and cultural landscape surrounding cannabis use in the United States continues to evolve, more Americans are turning to cannabis to self-medicate a number of ailments, including migraines. The purpose of the present study was to examine patterns of cannabis use and its associated relief among migraineurs.

Participants were N = 589 adult cannabis users living in states with full legal access. Using a cross-sectional design, participants completed an online survey assessing their cannabis use profiles, migraine experience, and self-reported relief from cannabis and non-cannabis treatments.

161 participants (27.3%) reported experiencing migraines. 76.4% of migraineurs (N = 123) endorsed using cannabis to treat their migraines. 69.9% (N = 86) of these participants also endorsed using non-cannabis products (e.g., over-the-counter pain medication, triptans) to treat their migraines. Although their subjective health was similar (p = .17), migraineurs who endorsed using cannabis to treat their migraines reported more severe migraines compared to those who did not (p = .02). Migraineurs reported significantly more migraine relief from cannabis compared to non-cannabis products, even after controlling for migraine severity (p = .03). The majority of migraineurs using cannabis to treat their migraines were not medical cardholders (65.0%), suggesting that these individuals were self-medicating in lieu of physician guidance.

The present study provides insight into the prevalence of cannabis use for migraine relief in a sample of cannabis users, and suggests that these migraineurs experience a high level of migraine relief from cannabis. Future studies are needed to determine the cannabis forms, potencies, and dosages that are most effective at treating migraine pain.

Open Access


DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102619


Gibson, L. P., Hitchcock, L. N., Bryan, A. D., & Bidwell, L. C. (2020). Experience of Migraine, its Severity, and Perceived Efficacy of Treatments among Cannabis Users. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 102619.