CBD and Migraine: How Effective is CBD for Migraine?

Growing evidence suggest that Cannabidiol (CBD) may be an effective and safe short-term adjunct or alternative treatment for migraine. CBD is a natural compound found in hemp and cannabis plants. It is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning it will not produce a “high” or alter your mental state. Studies suggest that CBD has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.

cbd for migraines

What is Migraine?

Migraine is a debilitating neurological disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is estimated that migraine affects 1 billion people worldwide. Characterized by episodes of intense and often debilitating headaches along with associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, and sensitivity to light and/or sound, migraines can have a significant impact on quality of life and can frequently interfere with work and leisure activities.

The cause of migraines is incompletely understood and likely involves a complex interplay between genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. There is no “cure” for migraines, and treatments currently focus on symptom relief and prevention. For long-term management, doctors may recommend preventive medications.

However, some people may not respond to conventional treatments or are unable to tolerate potential side effects. Triptans are the go-to treatment for migraine headaches, as they’ve been shown to be largely effective in lessening their intensity. While these drugs can be powerful tools, they may also carry certain side effects such as rebound headaches, dizziness, chest tightness, redness/warmth/tingling under the skin or nausea/vomiting.

indica or sativa for migraines

Indica or Sativa for Migraines

For migraine sufferers, finding relief from the debilitating headaches can feel like an endless quest. Many turn to alternative treatments like cannabis, with its two main strains, Indica and Sativa, often being touted as effective options. While both strains contain cannabinoids that can offer pain relief, they have different effects on the body. So what is the difference between Indica or Sativa for migraines?

  • Indica strains are known for their sedative properties, making them ideal for those seeking relaxation and relief from tension-related headaches.
  • Sativa strains, on the other hand, are more energizing and may be better suited for migraines caused by fatigue or low blood sugar.

Ultimately, it’s important to experiment and find what works best for each individual, as everyone’s body chemistry and response to cannabis can vary.

CBD and Migraine

The exact relationship between cannabinoids and migraines is still not properly understood, despite many anecdotal reports from migraine patients suggesting positive outcomes. Recent research indicates that the underlying cause of migraines may be an endocannabinoid (inner cannabinoids – part of our regulatory system) deficiency accompanied by inflammation.

It appears that the chemical chain of events leading up to a migraine headache begins with an external “trigger” – such as bright light, hunger, hormones, or certain smells or foods – which disturbs cellular homeostasis (balance) in some way. This causes endocannabinoids to be produced in order to restore equilibrium; if someone is deficient in said cannabinoids, however, this imbalance remains and thus can lead to a full-blown migraine. Inflammation may also come into play at this stage and amplify the pain caused by the headache itself.

Headaches and the Endocannabinoid system (ECS)

Several studies have explored the potential connections between headaches and the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Results suggest that synthetic cannabinoids and endocannabinoids can reduce pain by blocking receptors. THC was seen to interfere with serotonin release plates in human migraine sufferers, which stops vomiting and pain. Moreover, molecules bond with specific areas of the periaqueductal gray matter – known as parts involved in migraine generation.

What’s more, three cases have identified intense migraine attacks following sudden stopping of cannabis use – a phenomenon similar to rebound headache after abruptly dropping other therapy forms. Inflammation-associated genes were located in migraine patients yet weren’t present in control subjects; paralleling this finding, those suffering from chronic migraines or medication-overuse headaches display diminished levels of endocannabinoids – suggesting there may be an association between impaired endocannabinoid functionality and both conditions at hand.

Patients worldwide have been using cannabis for thousands of years as a treatment for migraine headaches, and more recently it is being studied as a viable medical option. Medical cannabis use has been found to provide relief from pain, nausea, and sleep disturbances associated with migraines. Even more beneficial are reports that some trigger factors, such as stress and sleep deprivation, can be alleviated by cannabis consumption – so the number of migraine attacks may decrease.

cannabis for migraines

Best Ways to Take CBD from Migraine

Additionally, patients may be able to reduce their spending on medications prescribed specifically for migraine headaches and experience improved overall quality of life. CBD-rich cannabis drinks or tinctures taken daily can even prevent migraines from occurring. For those who experience an active headache episode, inhalation or sublingual tinctures are typically preferred methods in order to achieve quick results; however, strain selection is something that can come through trial and error for most patients.

Moreover, A systematic review (Frontiers Neurology, 2022) of 12 studies concluded that the use of medical cannabis among 1,980 participants from Italy and the United States reduced migraine headaches frequency per month by 51%. Moreover, it resulted in an 11.6% reduction in migraine headaches as opposed to amitriptyline treatment. Though there was an observed association between medical marijuana usage and medication overuse headaches, adverse events were generally mild at 43.75%. However, large, randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to validate these findings and further evaluate the safety and efficacy of CBD for migraine treatment.

In conclusion, CBD may be an effective adjunct or alternative treatment for preventing migraine headaches in some people. Before taking CBD, it is important to discuss these potential benefits and risks with a healthcare provider.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9197380/

Okusanya BO, Lott BE, Ehiri J, McClelland J, Rosales C. Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Migraine in Adults: A Review of the Evidence. Front Neurol. 2022 May 30;13:871187. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2022.871187. PMID: 35711271; PMCID: PMC9197380.

Burstein, R., et al. “EHMTI-0354. Abnormal expression of gene transcripts linked to inflammatory response in the periosteum of chronic migraine patients: implications to extracranial origin of headache.” The journal of headache and pain 15.1 (2014): 1-1.
Rossi, Cristiana, et al. “Endocannabinoids in platelets of chronic migraine patients and medication-overuse headache patients: relation with serotonin levels.” European journal of clinical pharmacology 64.1 (2008): 1-8.

Lichtman, A., et al. Investigation of Brain Sites Mediating Cannabinoid-induced Antinociception in Rats: Evidence Supporting Periaquaductal Gray Involvement. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (1996) 276: 585-93
El-Mallakh, R. Marijuana and Migraine. Headache (1987) 27: 442-43.

FAQ about CBD and Migraine

Can CBD help with migraines?

There is growing evidence suggesting that CBD (cannabidiol) can be effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines. Many users report positive results in managing their migraines with CBD products.

How does CBD work for migraines?

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies, which is involved in regulating various functions, including pain perception. CBD has shown potential in reducing inflammation, alleviating pain, and modulating serotonin levels, which are all factors implicated in migraines.

Dosage can vary depending on the individual and the severity of migraines. It is advisable to start with a low dose and gradually increase until the desired effects are achieved. Consulting with a healthcare professional experienced in CBD use can help determine the appropriate dosage.

Are there any side effects of using CBD for migraines?

CBD is generally well-tolerated, with few reported side effects. Some users may experience mild symptoms such as drowsiness, dry mouth, or changes in appetite. It’s important to note that CBD can interact with certain medications, so it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting CBD treatment.

Are there different forms of CBD for migraine treatment?

CBD is available in various forms, including oils, tinctures, capsules, edibles, and topical creams. Each form has its own advantages, and the choice depends on personal preference and desired method of consumption.

Can CBD completely cure migraines?

While CBD has shown promise in managing migraines, it’s important to note that individual experiences may vary. CBD may help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, but it may not completely cure them. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

The legal status of CBD varies by country and region. In many places, CBD derived from hemp with low THC content is legal. However, it’s essential to research and understand the specific regulations in your location before purchasing and using CBD products.