Analgesic effects and anti-inflammatory properties have been attributed to CBD over the past decade. It turns out that these so-called analgesic effects could specifically target migraines.
However, there is a general lack of formal research on the subject—a perspective that prevents experts from arriving at a consensus regarding CBD's role in pain relief.
Like this 2012 paper on the anti-inflammatory and neuropathic pain suppression effects of cannabinoids on the body, some studies state strong evidence suggesting that nonpsychoactive cannabinoids (like CBD) can alleviate neuropathic pain in animals.
Likewise, a 2007 study discusses how a THC: CBD mixed prescription medication called 'Sativex' successfully treats neuropathic pain.
However, another 2010 study concluded that the role of cannabinoids in pain management should be left to be treated as an alternative when other FDA approved medications are not tolerated or influential on the patient.
Whatever it is you might choose to believe, the truth is that CBD oil for migraines is an increasingly popular subject due to the correlation between its regular consumption and neurological pain. A correlation, that as mentioned above, cannot be conclusively proven with existing clinical evidence.
What is a migraine?
Contrary to popular belief, migraines are more than just random headaches. A migraine is a common type of brain disorder caused by a series of abnormal neuronal networks that interact and affect the central and peripheral nervous systems' normal functioning.
As you would expect from any complex functional structure, the body is capable of creating a variety of different migraines as explained by the American Migraine Foundation:
- Migraine with Aura (Complicated Migraine)
Aura is a series of sensory changes that can include seeing black dots, numbness on the side of the body, and an inability to speak clearly. Migraines can be split up into four severity stages, and an aura is the second of those stages and can be considered a warning sign of an incoming and even more severe form of headache.
- Common Migraine
A typical migraine is characterized by not having any warning signs before its onset. It shares the same symptoms as other types of migraines like nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
- Silent Migraine
The lack of head pain characterizes the silent migraine. Symptoms made visible by the silent migraine include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and aura.
Other types of common migraines are hemiplegic migraine, retinal migraine, chronic migraine, and an array of different types of headaches.
The main thing to take away from this section of the article is that headaches do not distinguish between migraines. They can also come with symptoms of nausea and vomiting. A solid reason to use CBD for migraines is that the cannabinoid has been attributed with antiemetic properties and analgesic ones.
How Does the body combat migraines?
As briefly mentioned above, a migraine develops in four different stages. Here's how a migraine develops and how your body responds to it:
Phase 1: Onset
The onset phase is where the migraine is initially triggered. The trigger can be any external influence that ranges from scents, lack of sleep, stress, diet, weather changes, and hormonal changes. These triggers cause neurons in the brain to fire abnormally.
Phase 2: Hypersensitivity
When the neurons fire, different brain regions activate in response to them, subsequently triggering effects on the senses. The results may identify common migraine symptoms like nausea and hypersensitivity to light and sound.
Phase 3: Attack
According to a 2012 study on serotonin's role in migraines, scientists believe that headaches may be initially caused by a drop in the amount of serotonin in the brain and body. When the body suffers a decrease in serotonin, this can lead the brain's blood vessels to dilate, essentially resulting in a throbbing headache.
Phase 4 Aftereffect
Migraines may last up to 72 hours, but the body is still recovering even after that spell. During this time, other symptoms like weakness and lack of concentration may arise due to your body trying to recover.
Common Treatments for a Migraine
Drugs for migraines may include both prescription medication and over the counter pills. So much so that it would be a futile effort to mention all of them in this article. That is why we'll stick to what we believe is the best way to combat migraines and headaches; prevention.
By making specific lifestyle changes, you may not only improve your overall quality of life but also avoid otherwise unbearably painful migraine episodes.
Potential Lifestyle Changes:
- Stress Management: Managing stress involves a change in how you react to and interpret otherwise stressful situations. We understand that this is easier said than done, but it is possible. Activities like meditation, yoga, 8 hours of sleep, and early morning exercise are tall common ways to achieve this.
- Diet: By this, we do not mean you need to starve yourself. We're just suggesting that you take it easy on the hard liquor plus fried and processed foods. If this is the way you have fed yourself your whole life, then you might not even notice how much this has to do with your migraines.
While over the counter meds and prescription drugs are becoming less and less desirable for a significant portion of the population, alternative treatments like CBD for migraines have begun to gain notoriety. The question still stands, is CBD good for migraines, and if so, how does it work?
Is CBD Good for Migraines?
A 2005 study claims that when stress makes an appearance, a type of analgesia triggers the brain. This analgesic effect releases cannabinoids in the brain.
The cannabinoids that the body releases naturally, in this case, block the receptors that would trigger pain. The theory says that CBD could also latch onto these receptors and potentially stop them, which could, in turn, deliver analgesic effects to the body and brain.
However, research in this area is unbelievably scarce, and there is still a long way to go before experts can confirm that CBD for stress-induced migraines is effective.
The concept of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency and its relationship to migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome alleviation was studied in a 2004 clinical study. The results found that migraines have multiple correlations with endocannabinoid functions promoted by the ECS.
More specifically, the same study found that "cannabinoids have… demonstrated the ability to block spinal, peripheral, and gastrointestinal mechanisms that promote pain in headache, fibromyalgia, IBS and related disorders". The demonstrated endocannabinoid deficiency allows us to assume cannabinoids could prove a potentially suitable treatment for these and other pathophysiologically similar conditions.
What does the FDA say about prescription CBD for migraines?
The FDA has only approved a single CBD-based prescription drug to date, used for certain rare types of epilepsy. Apart from Epidiolex, the FDA has not approved any other CBD-based prescription products.