People used cannabis for thousands of years to relieve headaches before it became illegal. In recent times, research has suggested that CBD may have therapeutic benefits for relieving headaches, including migraines.
Migraine attacks go far beyond the typical allergy- or stress-related headaches. Migraines can last between 4 to 72 hours and have a way of wreaking havoc on one’s entire life. It halts your productivity at work. It ruins social plants. It interrupts everyday life and can make you miserable for the whole day, or longer.
While pain medications may temporarily alleviate symptoms of a migraine, you might be concerned about the possible side effects. This is where CBD oil for migraines comes in. There is evidence that CBD can reduce pain and inflammation in arthritis, and it may work similarly for migraines.
How CBD May Work to Reduce Migraines
Dr. Ethan Russo explains in his theory of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency how CBD may actually work and fight the pain caused by migraines. His theory suggests that certain diseases are the cause of particular deficiencies in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a biological system that functions as a responder to the types of cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids naturally occur in the body, but can also be supplied by ingesting cannabis products.
A deficiency of these biological endocannabinoids in the body may result in chronic pain, including migraines. According to Russo, CBD helps to regulate and trigger the receptors of the ECS and eases the pain.
CBD works by interacting with cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) found ECS. While the mechanisms aren’t yet fully understood, the receptors can affect the immune system.
For instance, CBD may stop the body from metabolizing anandamide – a compound associated with pain regulation. Maintaining high levels of anandamide in the bloodstream may reduce one’s feelings of pain. CBD is also believed to limit inflammation within the body, which could also help to reduce pain and other immune-system responses.
However, more research is needed to gain a further understanding of how CBD may affect the body.
What the Research Says
Currently, there are no clinical studies exploring the efficacy of CBD for migraines. However, several scholarly studies and reviews pointing to the importance of modulating the ECS and the use of cannabinoids, like CBD, as a potential treatment.
Endocannabinoid receptors are situated in the pain-processing areas of the brain. Anandamide has been found to target a few of the same signaling pathways as triptans – a medication class used to treat migraines and cluster headaches.
According to Rosalia Yoon, a cannabis research scientist for Toronto-based Apollo Cannabis Clinics, this supports the therapeutic potential that cannabinoids have in treating migraines.
CBD is known to reduce neuropathic pain and suppress inflammation by targeting specific receptors located within the ECS.
Why Does CBD Oil Reduce Migraines?
Due to the debilitating effects of migraines, a lot of clinical research has been done in an attempt to find an effective treatment to alleviate pain and minimize the frequency of migraines.
Typically, migraines start in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. A migraine is sometimes triggered in response to extreme stress. Most people who suffer from migraines have rather unbalanced levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Low levels of serotonin may cause the dilation of blood vessels, which increases the risk of getting a migraine. Cannabis has been found to increase serotonin levels by preventing the dilation of blood vessels. Increased levels of serotonin will reduce the onset of migraine attacks.
Here are several of the properties of CBD oil that help relieve migraines:
- Potent analgesic (pain-relieving) properties
- Antiemetic effects (prevents nausea and vomiting)
- Powerful anti-inflammatory effects
Currently, medical experts consider the pain caused by migraines to be the result of intense stimulation to sensory nerves. This occurs in response to inflammatory agents that get released when migraines occur. This explains why powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic agents, like CBD oil, may be effective in treating migraines.
Recently, CBD oil has been getting a lot of attention for its powerful pain-relieving properties, especially since it’s been legalized in at least 30 states.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Migraines
More research is needed to determine just how effective CBD oil for migraines is. However, thus far, anecdotal studies and reviews have reported promising results. As migraine sufferers continue to seek relief that won’t pack their bodies with pharmaceuticals, science continues to rise to the challenge.