woman migraine

Does CBD Oil Work for Migraines?

Migraines are a debilitating condition that can keep you from living your life to the fullest. If you suffer from migraines, you know how frustrating and painful they can be. Many people turn to prescription medications to help relieve migraines, but these drugs often come with unwanted side effects. Natural CBD oil is a potentially effective treatment for migraines, and it comes with very few side effects which are typically very mild. In this article, we will discuss how CBD oil can help treat migraine headaches, how to use it safely and effectively, and other ways to get relief from migraines.

Is CBD Good for Migraines and Headaches?

Migraine is one of the most prevalent neurological diseases in the world, affecting approximately one billion people globally, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. A migraine is more severe than a typical headache, with attacks lasting up to 72 hours and amplified symptoms including severe headache, dizziness, nausea, visual disturbances and sensitivity to light or sound. Although migraine disease is commonly treated with strong pharmaceutical drugs, results can vary and some people are concerned about side effects. This is where CBD may come in, as a natural treatment to minimise migraine frequency and alleviate pain, whilst carrying only a small risk of mild side effects.

man migraine

CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is one of over 100 different cannabinoids (naturally occurring compounds) of the cannabis plant. Several cannabinoids, including CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), have been shown to provide therapeutic effects, and CBD has grown in popularity as a natural way to treat certain ailments such as chronic pain and inflammation, poor sleep and anxiety issues.

When CBD oil is consumed, the cannabinoid works closely with the body’s endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammation and provide analgesic effects. This sounds quite promising in terms of CBD’s efficacy in alleviating migraine pain, which experts believe is the consequence of strong sensory nerve stimulation (an inflammatory response) during an attack. However, research on the benefits of CBD to human health and wellness is yet to reach the clinical stages. Many preclinical studies have been undertaken, but further research is required to understand CBD’s healing benefits in their entirety and more focused studies are necessary on the impact of CBD and migraines in particular. So, in answer, to the question “is CBD good for migraines?”, we don’t know for sure. But there are many compelling anecdotal reports and preclinical evidence on CBD and pain relief is equally encouraging. We would add, also, that since CBD has very few side effects and is regarded as a safe, natural supplement, it’s certainly worth a try.

What Does the Research Say? 

While further evidence is certainly required to conclude that CBD is an effective treatment for migraine headaches, many experts already advocate the use of the cannabinoid for relief. As the stigma surrounding medical cannabis and CBD continues to ease, more research will likely be undertaken to prove that cannabidiol is an effective treatment.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at the evidence so far. While studies on CBD and migraines specifically are limited, an abundance of research has been carried out on cannabidiol’s impact on pain and inflammation, with promising results. A 2018 review showed accumulating evidence of several benefits of cannabinoids in the treatment of pain, stating that this ‘may also apply to the treatment of migraine and headache’.

Another 2018 review showed CBD to have anti-inflammatory effects alongside antioxidative and neuroprotective benefits. Since neuroinflammation is linked to the pathophysiology of a migraine, the studies indicate that the use of CBD for relief may be advantageous.

While research on CBD as a single compound and migraines is currently limited, there are promising existing studies on the combined benefits of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. 

cbd oil

How Does CBD Work? 

When CBD enters the mammalian body, it interacts closely with receptors within the endocannabinoid system known as CB1 and CB2. These receptors, found within the brain and the central nervous system, can affect immunity, mood, appetite, pain perception, inflammation and more. CBD is believed to positively influence the activity of CB1 and CB2 to minimise pain and inflammation, whilst promoting relaxation and improved mood.  Furthermore, CBD has been shown to prevent the degradation of the neurotransmitter anandamide (AEA). High bloodstream levels of AEA are linked with pain alleviation. 

The Legality of CBD

CBD and CBD-infused products are legal in many countries including the UK. However, CBD must contain trace amounts (less than 0.2%) or be completely void of THC to be legally sold in the UK.

Will CBD Get Me High?

Although CBD comes from cannabis, as long as it doesn’t contain THC, it won’t get you high. THC is the compound that is typically associated with marijuana and has psychotropic effects. CBD without THC does not possess psychoactive properties (and there is some evidence that CBD may even counteract the intoxicating effects of THC when combined).

Using CBD Oil for Migraine Relief 

One of the most effective ways of taking CBD is sublingually, and this is why CBD oil is so popular. CBD oil can be swallowed but to maximise the benefits and feel them more quickly, the oil should be held under the tongue for at least 60 seconds before swallowing. This provides time for CBD to be absorbed through the mucous membrane and enter the bloodstream more rapidly than it would if it has to pass through the digestive system first.

woman taking cbd oil

If new to CBD oil, we recommend beginning with a low dose and gradually increasing the dosage as required. You might start with one or two droppers a day and increase or lower the dose accordingly, depending on how you feel. If you have purchased a low-strength product and you are yet to feel the benefits, you can take twice as much to mimic a stronger oil, and purchase a higher-strength product next time.

CBD intake can also be topped up in several ways. CBD gummies are an extremely popular, convenient and discreet option for those requiring a top-up during the day. CBD is also available in form of topical balms and creams.

The key to starting CBD is remembering to be patient. Some people observe changes rapidly, but for others, it takes a month or so of regular CBD usage to truly feel the difference.  

If you’re on prescription medication, talk to your doctor to determine the proper dosage before starting CBD, as it may interfere with a variety of drugs such as antibiotics and blood thinners.

Safety and Risks

CBD is generally regarded as a safe supplement with very few risks and side effects. It is non-psychoactive and well tolerated by humans. This is one of the reasons that CBD oil has become a popular choice as a natural treatment for pain and anxiety relief in the UK.

Nevertheless, some side effects are possible, such as fatigue, diarrhoea and weight changes. However, these side effects are typically observed in those who have taken extremely large CBD doses.

Additional Natural Treatments for Migraine and Headaches 

How else can a migraine be treated naturally? Let’s take a look at alternative potential treatments to ease migraine pain and discomfort. 

  • Lavender oil – inhaling diluted lavender essential oil or applying a small amount directly to your temples may temporarily relieve migraine symptoms.
  • Practise yoga – using body postures and meditation, yoga releases tension and improves anxiety which can contribute to the relief of headaches and migraines.
  • Have magnesium – supplementing with magnesium may help improve migraine symptoms since deficiency is linked to attacks. Include more magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as almonds, peanut butter, cashew nuts, milk and eggs.

The Takeaway

CBD is yet to be classified as a conventional treatment for migraine and further research is necessary on the cannabinoid as a single ingredient for migraine and headache relief. However, promising anecdotal evidence coupled with positive preclinical trial results, in addition to the good safety profile of CBD is a good reason to try it. Purchase good-quality CBD oil from a reputable brand, build up the dose gradually and allow some time for the cannabinoid to work.

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