Migraine is a chronic neurological condition characterized by severe and recurrent headaches, throbbing pain, and pulsating sensation. Other migraine symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, smell, and sound. Migraines may but aren’t always accompanied by an aura, a neurological symptom characterized by visual disturbances, such as flashing lights and zigzag patterns, or other sensory or motor issues. The exact cause of migraines is not known, but they are believed to be caused by changes in brain activity.
Migraines are more common than one might think, with around 40 million people in the United States suffering from them. However, migraines are often misdiagnosed, and the true prevalence is likely to be even higher. Current treatments for migraines are only effective for some people and often come with unwanted side effects. There is, therefore, a need for new, more effective migraine treatment options.
That’s where CBD may come in handy. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant with a wide range of potential therapeutic properties. As it is often used for chronic pain relief, CBD for migraines is an area of research that is gaining a lot of attention.
In this article, we will review the current evidence for the use of CBD for migraine headaches and discuss how you can use CBD to manage your condition.
What Is CBD and How Does It Work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Unlike THC, another compound found in cannabis, CBD does not cause a “high” or intoxication. Instead, it has been found to have a wide range of potential therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic effects.
It is thought that CBD works by modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a complex system of neurotransmitters and receptors found throughout the body that plays an important role in regulating several physiological processes, including pain, inflammation, mood, and appetite. ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis – balance – in the body.
CBD has been found to interact with the ECS in various ways, leading to the potential therapeutic effects associated with it.
CBD and Pain Relief
Pain is perhaps one of the most common ailments CBD is used for, and before we move on to one of its specific types – migraine pain, let’s take a closer look at the substance’s pain-killing properties.
One of the most promising areas of research into CBD for migraines is its ability to reduce inflammation. CBD has been shown to modulate the activity of inflammatory cytokines and mediators. This anti-inflammatory action is thought to be one of the mechanisms by which CBD alleviates pain. CBD has also been shown to reduce pain by interacting with pain receptors, such as TRPV1 and CB2 receptors. This dual action on both inflammation and pain makes CBD a promising new treatment for migraines.
CBD is thought to be a particularly effective pain reliever due to its ability to target both the peripheral and central nervous systems. As such, CBD can be used to relieve joint and muscle pain as well as cope with chronic pain better.
Furthermore, clinical trials involving CBD for the treatment of chronic pain have shown that CBD can reduce the intensity of pain and inflammation, as well as reduce hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain).
CBD has also been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and stress, two common trigger factors for migraines. CBD is thought to work by modulating the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood and has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety and depression. CBD is thought to increase levels of serotonin by preventing its reuptake. This action is thought to be one of the mechanisms by which CBD alleviates anxiety and stress, indicating that CBD may be especially beneficial for chronic migraine patients.
Scientific Evidence for CBD Effectiveness on Migraine Pain
Migraine is one of the chronic headache disorders characterized by severe and recurrent pulsing pain that causes a severe throbbing or pounding sensation, often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
- nausea and vomiting,
- sensitivity to light, sound, and smells,
- head pain that gets worse when moving,
Migraines are a debilitating condition that can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. Current migraine treatments are often ineffective and come with a range of unwanted side effects – typically, migraine sufferers turn to over-the-counter painkillers, medical marijuana, or prescription drugs.
CBD has emerged as a safe alternative treatment for migraines due to its wide range of therapeutic properties. But is there any scientific evidence that CBD can treat migraines?
First, it’s important to mention that the majority of earlier research look at the combined effects of CBD and other natural compounds found in cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), terpenes, and flavonoids.
In addition, a recent 2021 review of the current literature reports that a combination of CBD and THC had encouraging short- and long-term outcomes for people suffering from migraines, stating that “it was effective in decreasing daily analgesic intake, dependence, and level of pain intensity,” but further research is still needed.
You can also find more studies on using medical cannabis to relieve pain associated with migraine. For instance, a 2016 study on the effects of medical marijuana on migraine headache frequency in an adult population showed that of the 48 people surveyed, 39.7% reported fewer migraine attacks overall.
So far, research on the use of CBD as a single ingredient on migraine pain (or other headache disorders) is quite limited, but existing studies suggest that it has promise as an effective treatment option.
For instance, in a 30-day survey conducted by Axon Relief, a company that develops products for migraine relief, CBD oil users experienced an average of 3.8 fewer headache days when compared to before they used the oil, for a 23% reduction. Moreover, participants with chronic migraine saw a 33% reduction in their headache days.
Other than that, American Migraine Foundation outlines CBD oil as a viable topical solution for neck and joint pain, which is often associated with migraines. According to Dr. Stephen Silberstein, director of the Headache Center at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, using CBD oil is reasonable if you have neck pain or soreness, and it also can help prevent nausea and vomiting.
While current studies suggest that CBD may be effective in treating migraines, more research is needed to further investigate its efficacy. It is also important to note that CBD can interact with certain medications, so it is important to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.
How to Take CBD for Migraine Relief?
There are a few different ways you can use CBD if you suffer from migraines. The most common method is by taking CBD oils sublingually (under the tongue) using the dropper or in the form of tinctures. This allows the CBD to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream and takes effect relatively quickly. As such, it’s probably the best way to use if you’re looking for quick relief from migraine symptoms.
If you don’t like the taste of CBD oil or you’re looking for a longer-lasting effect, you can also take CBD capsules or edibles. While you will have to wait a little longer for the effects to kick in, they will last longer and be more potent.
CBD topicals can be of great help if you also suffer from joint and/or neck pains that sometimes accompany migraines. CBD creams and balms can be applied directly to the affected area for quick, targeted pain relief.
Finally, if you’re a smoker or a vaper, you can try CBD flower or CBD vape oil. These products provide the fastest relief as the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the lungs. Furthermore, there is currently an ongoing crossover study in collaboration with the Migraine Research Foundation evaluating 3 different treatments of vaporized cannabis (THC, THC/CBD mix, and CBD) and vaporized placebo cannabis for the acute treatment of migraine. Hopefully, we’ll see more promising results already next year.
All in all, the best way to take CBD will depend on your preferences and needs. Experiment with different methods and dosages to find what works best for you. Whatever you choose, start with a small dose and increase gradually as needed. And, of course, speak to your healthcare provider before trying CBD, especially if you’re taking other migraine medications.
Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD
CBD is a generally well-tolerated compound with a wide margin of safety. However, it can cause some side effects, including:
- appetite changes,
- dry mouth.
These side effects are usually mild and temporary and occur at high doses.
It’s also worth noting that CBD has the potential to interact with other prescription medications you may be taking for your migraines or other medical conditions. As such, it’s always best to speak to your healthcare provider before trying CBD.
The legal status of CBD can be confusing and depends on a number of factors, such as the source of the CBD and the country you live in.
In the United States, hemp-derived CBD products (meaning they should contain no more than 0.3% THC) is legal in all 50 states after the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. Still, CBD derived from marijuana plants is only legal in some states. Note that state medical marijuana laws won’t apply here.
It’s also worth noting that the legal status of CBD is constantly changing, so it’s always best to check the latest legal restrictions in your area before using CBD.
CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant with a wide range of potential medicinal properties. As it is often used for chronic pain relief, CBD as a treatment for migraine pain is an area of research that is gaining more attention now.
CBD is thought to be an effective migraine treatment due to its wide range of therapeutic benefits that include anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. CBD has been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation, pain, anxiety, stress, nausea, and vomiting, which all frequently occur as migraine symptoms.
If you are considering using CBD for migraines, it is important to speak to your headache specialist first. Although CBD is generally well-tolerated, it may also interact with other medications you are taking and but there is still more research needed in this area.