Can CBD oil help with migraines?

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD stands for cannabidiol which is one of the chemical compounds found in cannabis. Research has shown that cannabis-derived compounds such as CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interact with the endocannabinoid system. This allows them to influence health.

CBD oil is often extracted from the hemp plant which has trace amounts of THC, however, it may still be extracted from cannabis plants with high CBD amounts. Unlike THC, CBD oil does not cause psychedelic effects even when used in high doses. 

The starting dose for CBD oil is usually 5mg to 20mg daily. You can titrate this until you find the optimal dose that works for your level of pain. At doses above 160mg, you might get slightly sedated.

Before using CBD oil for whatever reason, you should consult your healthcare provider and have them allow you to do so. You also need to do a background check on the company supplying the CBD oil to ensure that the source is reputable.

What Is A Migraine?

A migraine is a severe throbbing headache that typically affects one side if the head. The pain is usually accompanied by nausea, disturbed vision, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. It may last for a few hours to a few days and usually interferes with one’s abilities to carry out their daily activities.

Before a migraine attack, one may experience some warning signs known as prodrome. The signs include frequent yawning, stiff neck, food cravings, mood changes, and constipation. Some people may also experience an aura just before the migraine sets in.

Can CBD Oil Help Migraines?

CBD has a number of therapeutic benefits including the treatment of seizures, nausea, inflammation, stress, chronic fatigue, mood changes, and anxiety among others. 

The exact cause of migraines is not known. However, some factors have been associated with the onset of migraines. These factors include:

  • Diet- alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cheese, and citrus fruits can be triggers
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress, anxiety, depression, and mood disorders
  • Over exhaustion, poor sleep, and poor posture

CBD interacts with CB2 receptors which are present in different parts of the body, but not the brain. It seems like CBD may help to alleviate the peripheral triggers and symptoms of migraines that occur outside the central nervous system.

What Does Research Say?

A number of studies have been carried out to investigate the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids as a whole (THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids). Studies on CBD for migraines, however, are limited.

“A study presented at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Amsterdam confirmed that cannabinoids are just as suitable as a prophylaxis for migraine attacks as other pharmaceutical treatments.”

The above study considered cannabinoids as a whole, and it is one of the few studies to comprehensively review the role of cannabinoids in managing migraines.

The study was broken down into two phases where the participants were given a combination of THC and CBD. The researchers concluded that cannabinoids were effective in reducing acute pain that comes with migraines. In phase two of the study, some study participants were given amitriptyline. Results revealed that cannabinoids were more effective in reducing migraine attacks.

The study period lasted for 90 days, and a follow-up occurred one month after treatment ended.

CBD and Pain

Other studies have also shown that CBD has strong pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits. A report released by Harvard University in 2019 stated that CBD can treat different types of chronic pain. This includes inflammation and pain due to arthritis and neuropathic pain as well. This happens to be two of the most difficult kinds of pain to treat. However, the report highlighted the need for further research to validate the claims of CBD proponents about CBD’s analgesic effects.

Are There Any Risks Associated With CBD Use?

CBD use is safe, even in high doses up to 1,500mg per day. Also, CBD does not trigger any psychoactive effects. This means that even the speculated risk of brain damage linked with long term marijuana use is not an issue when it comes to CBD. 

However, CBD interacts with other drugs and in this way it may cause adverse effects. CBD can negatively interact with antibiotics, anti depressants, blood thinners, and any other drug that interacts with cytochromes P450 (CYPs).

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