Health & Wellness

Is CBD Oil Effective for Migraines?

By Aimee McNew

Migraines are a debilitating type of headache that are far worse than typical, everyday head pain. Migraines are a neurological disorder that involves excessive stimulation of certain parts of the brain, resulting in intense head pain and other symptoms like nausea, muscle tension, and vision problems.

Migraines can last for just a few hours or up to 72, with most leaving sufferers unable to function until it has passed. Even noise and light can be unbearable, making it difficult to go on with life as usual.

Medical treatments for migraines are not always successful or come with excessive side effects, leaving many sufferers to explore alternative options like medical marijuana, THC, and now, CBD oil.

Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to its numerous beneficial properties with fewer unwanted side effects.

The research is limited on how CBD oil affects migraines, primarily because cannabidiol is still a relatively new realm of study and various stages of legalization have influenced how and when it could be tested.

The initial research, however, is promising, showing that CBD oil may have a therapeutic role in addressing migraines. More studies need to be done in the future to assess CBD oil’s direct influence on migraine, but what we do know warrants further exploration.

How CBD Oil Impacts Migraine, According to Research

Research shows that CBD oil is a promising solution for many aspects of brain health, providing relief for conditions like arthritis, epilepsy, pain, depression, and anxiety. If it exerts such a potent effect on the brain in other ways, the potential is there, too, for CBD oil to decrease migraine-related pain.

Medications using a combination of CBD oil and other ingredients, like THC, have successfully been used to treat inflammation and pain associated with conditions like cancer, neurological disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis. While these aren’t the same as migraine, the promising show of cannabidiol blends as pain relievers offers hope for CBD oil on its own as an option that doesn’t have psychoactive side effects.

Research from 2016 focusing on medical marijuana showed that it could reduce migraines and the frequency with which they occurred. While CBD oil is different, chemically, from medical marijuana, it is one component and is worth exploring as a treatment option.

Cannabidiol acts on some of the same pathways and receptors in the nervous system that marijuana does. CBD primarily interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as how the immune system responds to them. The primary mechanism of action for CBD oil on pain is that it is thought to prevent metabolism of compounds associated with pain, decreasing the body’s overall ability to feel or experience full pain sensations. It also helps decrease the inflammatory response in the body, too, potentially leading to lower levels of pain.

In a survey of CBD oil users, more than 60 percent reported using it to treat a medical condition involving pain, anxiety, or depression, with more than 35 percent reporting that cannabidiol alone worked very well to address symptoms.

The bottom line is that there have been no specific studies testing whether CBD oil on its own can reduce migraine frequency or treat associated pain, but anecdotally, the internet seems to be full of stories supporting its benefits. Hopefully scientific research will soon demonstrate the mechanism as well as explore effective dosages.

How to Try Cannabidiol for Migraines

If you suffer from migraines and don’t want to wait for medical research to catch on, there are some resources that might be helpful. However, the first and most important thing to do is to ask your doctor whether or not CBD oil might help your migraines or associated pain.

Second, you’ll want to make sure it’s legal in your state, and that you source it from a reputable place. Research shows that nearly 70 percent of CBD oil products purchased online were either under or over labeled.

If your doctor is on board, be sure to get dosage suggestions from him or her, too. The internet is rife with a wide range of them. If you’re new to CBD oil, starting on a low dose is smart, to gauge your reaction and potential side effects.

While CBD oil doesn’t have serious side effects for most, common ones include diarrhea, nausea, and fatigue or drowsiness. CBD oil can interact with certain medications, such as steroids and antihistamines, so be sure to check with your doctor before starting CBD oil if you take other prescriptions.

Cannabidiol is typically taken orally, topically, or by vaping. While edible CBD oil is easy to take and readily available, it’s also the least effective method of absorption. For dosing consistency, topical application or dissolving under the tongue are the preferred methods. While you can eat CBD oil in food products or vape it, it’s harder to regulate how much you’re taking in at any given time, and this might not be as effective for prevention or pain management.

However, when cannabinoid products are inhaled or vaped, they do tend to have the fastest response time, so if you’re facing the onset of a migraine and want to stop it in its tracks, that might be the way to go.

There is still no standardized system for dosing CBD oil, but between 2.5 and 20 milligrams daily seems to be a standard recommendation.

As with most medications, how a product affects you specifically might be different from someone else. Genetic individuality, as well as the efficiency of various pathways in the body, can influence how effective certain medications are. This is why some pharmaceuticals work for some but not others.

If you want to try CBD oil for migraines, since there is not an abundance of research, the best way to explore the options for you are to work with your doctor and a practitioner well-versed in cannabinoids to determine the potential for a therapeutic and successful result.

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