Anyone who has ever had a migraine knows to fear the word. Migraines are debilitating headaches that come with their wealth of symptoms, including light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, pain, and dizziness, to name only a few. Migraines are tricky to treat, and while there are over-the-counter and prescription medications available to treat them, scientists have been researching alternative treatments to migraines, ranging from acupuncture and supplements to CBD.
So what is the verdict on CBD for migraines, and can this helpful supplement help you combat debilitating headaches?
What is a Migraine
As mentioned above, a migraine is an intense headache that causes throbbing, sudden pain in the head. It can be located almost anywhere on your head, though many people report migraines being closer to the temple, eyes, or back of the cheeks. These headaches can come with light sensitivity, as well as aural signals, which are visual indicators that act as a warning sign for an incoming migraine.
The most common migraine symptoms include moderate to severe head pain, especially head pain that gets worse when you move around, nausea, vomiting, weakness, sensitivity to external sensations like light, smell, and sound, numbness, and vertigo, to say just a few.
What sets a migraine apart from other headaches is the long list of symptoms and in many cases the absence of other factors. While it is possible to trigger a migraine through stress and muscle tension, migraines are usually sudden in their onset, and hard to treat. Most people find themselves having to wait out the worst of the headache, which can be debilitating physically and emotionally, and those with chronic migraines may find keeping regular working hours next to impossible due to the unpredictable nature of migraines.
With about 15% of the population impacted by this neurological condition according to a study by the Journal of Headache and Pain, migraines are considered one of the sixth most debilitating diseases that affect humans, making finding a reliable treatment a priority for medical researchers.
Migraines can also be triggered by a wide-ranging list of things, from foods and smell to the weather, hormones, lights, or even caffeine, and the individual triggers vary from person to person, making it that much harder to track when a flare will occur.
What’s the Science on CBD and Migraines?
First, let’s look at what CBD is. CBD is a compound found in hemp and Sativa plants that contains almost no THC, meaning it is not psychoactive like other hemp products. CBD has been found to help relieve stress and anxiety and is being researched for chronic pain, though the studies are fairly new due to the longstanding restrictions in place against hemp and THC products in the United States and other countries.
One study by Axon Relief, a CBD producer looking into the link between CBD and lowering chronic pain in patients, found that CBD may help reduce the number of migraines a chronic sufferer experiences and can help shorten the recovery time from a migraine. The compound may also help reduce inflammation and nausea, both issues that go hand in hand with migraines.
CBD interacts with the body’s endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), which controls the nervous system’s response to external and internal threats. CBD can help tell these responses to relax, reducing inflammation and anxiety and helping relieve pain, leading researchers to believe that CBD may be beneficial in treating many forms of chronic illness, including migraines.
Are There Downsides to using CBD for Migraines?
The biggest side effects of CBD are fatigue, sleepiness, dry mouth, stomach upset, diarrhea, and appetite changes, making it a relatively non-volatile product for treating migraines. Of course, studies show that CBD may not work long-term to treat your migraines as your body builds up a resistance over time. However, it’s best t discuss options with your doctor before starting CBD for migraines, as chronic use may lead to memory concerns and mood fluctuations.
Still, when compared with the high likelihood of prescription painkiller dependence that comes with migraines (as much as 15% according to one source), CBD is a relatively benign treatment option that may offer relief to those suffering from chronic migraines.
What to Consider Before Using CBD for Migraines
First, talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment or supplement, and be sure to weigh the various risks before committing to a treatment. CBD should have only trace amounts of THC in the product, but it is best to purchase your CBD through a reputable source to make sure you are getting the safest and best products available. Also, be aware of the legality of CBD in your state or country, as while there are no federal laws against the possession of CBD in the United States, overall legality and availability are determined on a state-by-state basis, meaning you could run into issues if traveling between states or countries.
Also, be aware that CBD products are not medically regulated nor approved by the FDA, meaning there is some level of caution to exercise before using CBD for migraines.
While CBD may provide relief for those suffering from chronic migraines, choosing to naturally treat your migraines with CBD is a very personalized decision that depends on a variety of factors. Those allergic to hemp or hemp products should not take CBD, and it is best to consult with your doctor before starting any new prescription as some medicines may interact with CBD, though these overlaps are unlikely. With so many different CBD products on the market, thankfully the migraine sufferer is spoiled for choice and can choose between oils, tinctures, gummies, supplements, and topical solutions to try and reduce their overall symptoms. Be sure to track when you started taking CBD and note down any side effects or symptom changes you may experience, so you can better communicate with your doctor while undergoing other treatment options.
If you’re looking to reduce migraine pain and flares naturally without depending on over-the-counter prescriptions, CBD may offer a source of relief. As with any medication, be sure to do your research before beginning treatment, and always seek professional advice from your doctor or treatment specialist.