It’s frustrating to deal with people who think a migraine is “just a headache” and don’t understand why you act like it’s a big deal! Well, the more research that’s done on migraines, the more evidence there is that migraines are a big deal—and not just in our heads. For instance, we know that migraines are linked to serious cardiac risks and depression. In this issue, we look at how complications in pregnancy and deafness in women may have a migraine link. We also explore whether medical marijuana may be good for migraines.

A special thank you to our readers who have emailed to say how much they value the newsletter! Please keep in touch and let us know about any topics you’d like us to cover. We always welcome your inputs!

Thank you!

Tina Sanders

Linpharma Customer Education



Medical Marijuana for Migraines: Good or Bad?

Plants can be good medicine. With migraine, for instance, butterbur root extract (the Petadolex® formulation which removes harmful PAs) has been used for decades with success and, in Europe, prescribed by neurologists. Feverfew is another plant studied for migraine prevention, but without the effectiveness seen with butterbur. Now, migraine sufferers are wondering whether another plant—cannabis—might be beneficial. Let’s look at the facts.

  1. Not for prevention. Unlike butterbur and feverfew, marijuana is not viewed as preventing migraines. Instead, its use may be to treat migraines in much the same way it helps ease the pain of cancer and the nausea associated with chemotherapy.
  2. Little evidence. Again, unlike butterbur and feverfew, there are virtually no studies on medical marijuana for migraines. This means there is no concrete evidence that it is effective or—if it is—the proper and safe amount to use.
  3. Not standardized. Herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA, but they should conform to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) that ensure the purity and strength of the ingredients are standardized to protect consumers. Medical marijuana is not held to any standards and the purity and potency can vary substantially.
  4. Side effects. Many people tend to think of marijuana as natural and therefore harmless. In fact, marijuana use can cause breathing problems, increased risk of lung infections, impaired memory, increased heart rate, loss of coordination, paranoia, anxiety and increased appetite which can lead to weight gain. Many of these side effects are like those of drugs used to treat acute migraines.
The take-away: If you’re looking for a natural approach to reducing the pain and frequency of migraines, marijuana is unproven and could carry significant side effects and concerns over the purity of the cannabis. On the other hand, the Petadolex® formulation of butterbur, is backed by years of evidence on its safety and its effectiveness specifically for migraine sufferers.

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Risk Update: Can Treating Migraine Pain Cause Deafness?

Do you regularly use over-the-counter painkillers to treat migraine pain? If so, you could be damaging your hearing permanently. Since 2012, researchers have known that long-term use of acetaminophen and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen have been associated with a higher risk of hearing loss, particularly in women. Now, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines exactly what “long term” means.

Higher risk of hearing loss was found in women who had taken acetaminophen for six years or more. But women who used NSAIDs twice a week for just one year were found to be at greater risk for hearing loss than women who didn’t use these painkillers. The longer the women had been taking NSAIDs, the higher their risk.


Researchers think the association between painkillers and hearing loss comes from the fact that the drugs reduce blood supply to the inner ear and damage the tiny hairs that register sound. It’s important to note that this study does not prove painkillers cause hearing loss because it relied on self-reported rates of hearing loss. Still, with the strong possibility that painkillers can indeed cause permanent hearing loss, it makes sense to do all you can to reduce your need for painkillers in the first place. For migraine sufferers, this can mean finding a prevention strategy that reduces both the frequency and severity of headaches. As always, talk with your doctor about your own best approach.

The new research was published in January in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Click here to read a summary.

Having Migraines May Complicate Having Babies

Researchers from Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found further evidence that women who have acute migraines may experience higher risks of complications during pregnancy.

The study showed that women migraine sufferers experienced higher rates for Cesarean deliveries, preterm deliveries, preeclampsia and low birthrate. While the study sample was small and some of the participants also suffered from conditions such as obesity, depression and diabetes, the study is important because it adds to the evidence from previous studies showing a higher incidence of pregnancy complications among migraine sufferers.

Can migraine prevention help prevent complications?

That’s a leap we can’t make just yet. However, the study authors did conclude that although it is unclear if more aggressive migraine treatment or prevention during pregnancy would reduce complications, they do advocate that expectant mothers who have migraines consult with a neurologist early in their pregnancy.

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