Study: cannabinoids may help in migraine treatment

A team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, recently published a study in The Journal of Neuroscience centered 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.

Early researches shown that cannabinoids have been tied to the perception of neuropathic pain, and the researchers wanted to see if they would have similar success treating the throbbing nature of 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 Headache Group's study, activation of the CB1 receptor reduced the amount of A delta fibers by as much as 19% and inhibition of the cannabinoid receptor prevented a decrease in pressure A delta fibers. This suggests that the pressure relief was the result of nervous system interactions. 

Triptans are a family of medicines used to temporarily relieve migraines that are thought to affect serotonin receptors. However, the researches 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, researches believes the endocannabinoid system may be involved in triptan-related relief as well.


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