- Aches & Pains
CBD Oil for Migraines: Can It Help?
CBD has become part and parcel of a growing industry. It has expanded to include many everyday items that users can seamlessly blend into a busy lifestyle. Many CBD users may find relief from stress, minor physical discomforts, and aches. However, an increasing number of individuals use CBD for the management of their pain, including migraines.
Migraine sufferers can experience severe disruptions in their lives due to their level of pain. They may take time from work, school, and family activities to accommodate their migraines. Those afflicted with migraines often take prescription medications.
However, for many, CBD for migraines may represent a more plant-oriented approach. Emerging scientific inquiry into this subject suggests that CBD oil for migraines may constitute an alternate strategy to alleviate symptoms.
In this article, what migraines are and how doctors treat them will be discussed and described. This article will further detail CBD oil as a treatment option, including possible side effects. Highlights of research on CBD oil migraines will be analyzed.
What Is a Migraine?
When most people think of migraines, they may think of headaches. However, migraines and headaches are not the same. While sufferers may experience throbbing and aching head pain, doctors suggest that migraines belong in a separate category of afflictions.
Migraines represent a group of neurological symptoms that may be debilitating. Those afflicted may report distortions in vision, sensitivity to light, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. And, in some cases, dizziness.
Methods of treating migraines have included prescription medications that address the constriction of blood vessels and blood flow. Other methods may consist of over-the-counter remedies such as Excedrin Migraine.
However, as of January 2020, production for Excedrin Migraine has ceased. Other medications have varying degrees of efficacy and, for a few sufferers, are not sufficient in reducing pain.
What Causes Migraines?
Experts have sought for some time to pinpoint the cause of migraines. However, it is a multi-faceted disorder with features that run along a spectrum. Researchers aren’t clear on the root of migraines, though it appears that women more than men contend with this disorder.
Other possible causes include a genetic disposition for migraines. However, evolutionary theorists are not sure as to the advantage that migraines may give. Accounts of migraines go back centuries, with even notable figures such as Julius Caesar rumored to have them.
Doctors studying patient population note that individuals may have “triggers.” Triggers include any elements that may increase the risk of a patient developing a migraine. These elements can span the gamut. There may be triggers in the diet, such as wine, cheese, and chocolate.
Migraine sufferers with these triggers may typically avoid eating and drinking anything that may cause an episode. Other factors may include emotional triggers. Migraine sufferers that experience ongoing stress, anxiety, or fatigue may have an increased risk of developing a migraine.
Other triggers may include physical causes. Injury and trauma can induce migraines as well as hormonal changes. For women especially, hormones that regulate menstruation can also incite migraines.
Compounds in the air, water, or atmosphere may increase the risk of migraines. Triggers in the environment can even include temperature, weather, and a change in altitude or pressure. Flashing lights, sitting in front of a computer screen for extended periods, and fatigue can also act as triggers. Medications such as antidepressants and even some mild decongestants can exacerbate migraines or induce them.
Types of Migraine
Migraines aren’t a homogenous condition. While they are common and afflict millions of Americans, researchers have noted migraine variants. These variants point to differences in how individuals undergo migraine events. Experts have identified several categories of migraines. Each group details the symptoms those in a migraine population may report.
Migraine with Aura (Complicated Migraine)
Those with migraines with aura, or “complicated migraines”, may have disruptions in their visual fields, resulting in lights or auras during or before a migraine episode. The auras occur for up to 25% of migraine sufferers and can last for up to 20 minutes or more.
Those afflicted may also experience tingling in various parts of the body, including their hands and face. They may have dizziness or vertigo, muscle weakness or pain, and memory lapses.
Migraine without Aura (Common Migraine)
While a significant percentage of individuals experience an aura, many do not. Instead, those with migraines without the aura may not have any tell-tale signs before an episode occurs. These types of migraines are the most common and strike more people.
They are often confused with other types, as there is no clear delineation in symptoms. For example, many of those with common migraines report throbbing or pulsing on one side of the head. The reported pain is similar to those with an aura.
Common migraine patients also indicate nausea accompanied by vomiting and, in some cases, diarrhea. Migraine patients in this category may have photophobia (aversion to light) as well as phonophobia (aversion to sound).
Migraine without Head Pain
Although migraines cause intense pain and discomfort, people can suffer migraines without head pain. Previously known as an “acephalgic migraine,” the migraine without head pain is now commonly referred to as a “silent migraine.” The silent migraine includes symptoms such as aura, nausea and vomiting, and pronounced sensitivity to light and sound.
Hemiplegic migraines are akin to migraines with and without an aura. These types of migraines can induce throbbing and pulsating head pain, as well as nausea and vomiting. However, this variant of migraine does not often occur within the migraine population.
Along with pain, hemiplegic migraines may produce stroke-like symptoms. Those afflicted with this version may have muscle weakness or drooping on one side of the body. Hemiplegic migraines are sorted into one of two categories:
- Familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM): May have a genetic component and affects individuals within a familial unit.
- Sporadic hemiplegic migraine (SHM): This migraine manifests in a random population in individuals with no known family history of migraines.
Retinal migraines patients report not only head pain, but also the loss of vision in one of their eyes (monocular). Other vision disturbances include blind spots, moving lights, and in severe cases, temporary blindness.
This condition affects millions of Americans each year and disrupts normal function and lifestyles. Chronic migraines are a pattern of migraines that occur more than 15 times a month. Some with chronic migraines experience these episodes almost daily.
Patients with this condition cannot work, drive, or engage in normal day-to-day activities. A few undergo an ongoing migraine with no cessation for days and sometimes weeks on end.
Ice Pick Headaches
True to its name, ice pick headache sufferers report feelings of “an ice pick” burrowing into their heads. This sensation comes with intense, sharp, and prolonged pain. Ice pick migraines are also known as “stabbing” migraines.
Doctors group them into one of two categories: Pain that comes from the migraine and pain that is a result of another condition or cause. Ice pick migraines can cause red, watery eyes and congestion.
Cluster headaches may cause the most severe pain among migraine sufferers. It is an extremely intense head pain that occurs in bursts for weeks or months at a time before disappearing. However, a subset of cluster migraine sufferers may spend years in pain before it goes away.
Some accounts of cluster headaches include a burning sensation around the face or eyes, throbbing, pulsing pain, and nausea. Cluster headaches belong to a group defined as trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, a condition that features short but incredible pain.
These headaches may occur in the neck and cause pain in areas of the head. Cervicogenic headaches may result from neck injuries, such as whiplash or a herniated disk. Other causes can include stress, infection, and other disorders.
Doctors address the symptoms of migraines with a prescription of pain-relieving medication. Some common migraine medications include a group of compounds called triptans. Patients taking these may use sumatriptan, rizatriptan, or possibly zolmitriptan. Others, specifically those suffering from cluster headaches, may receive dihydroergotamine injections to reduce blood flow to some regions of the brain.
Patients may also utilize preventive medications. Preventive medications may include botox injections and anti-seizure drugs like divalproex sodium and topiramate. Timolol, a glaucoma medicine, may also be used. CBD has recently emerged as a way to treat migraine pain. It has anti-inflammatory properties and, according to some initial research, beneficial analgesic effects.
CBD Oil for Migraines
If you want a viable and cost-effective way to address symptoms, CBD oil may be the answer. CBD derived from hemp lacks much of the psychoactive effects featured by THC. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, creates the feeling of being “high.”
Instead, CBD as a migraine remedy may stand as a longer-term option. Research suggests that CBD may work as a TRPV1 agonist. TRPV1 receptors act as the gateway between the brain and the nervous system, helping to send signals that the brain may interpret as pain.
As an agonist, CBD may produce a different response from TRPV1 receptors and consequently may halt pain or change the way individuals interpret pain signals. Therefore, a CBD migraine block may consist of both prevention and as an analgesic.
How to Apply CBD Oil for Migraines
CBD dosage for migraines includes careful monitoring of migraine symptoms. While a certain amount of CBD may work well for one individual, another may need more to address pain adequately. It is a naturally occurring compound and is generally regarded as safe to consume every day.
In cases of cluster headaches, traditional treatments may yield undesirable effects. Some medications, such as octreotide injections, may result in depression, diarrhea, weight gain, and fainting. CBD oil, on the other hand, has been reported to have minimal side effects. In addition to side effects, an aversion to pills and needles may complicate traditional treatment options.
Migraine sufferers can use CBD oil in several ways. CBD oil for migraines can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) in drinks such as coffees, teas, and smoothies or food. For those that may not mind pills, CBD oil is available in capsules.
Can CBD Oil Cause Headaches?
While CBD oil may have minimal side effects, there may be drawbacks. Some individuals report having CBD oil headaches or CBD migraines. CBD may cause temporary changes in blood pressure. As blood pressure decreases, there is a higher blood volume in the brain. This may result in a headache. However, headache symptoms may be short term, and CBD consumers should adjust their levels of consumption until they find what does the trick.
What Does the Research Say?
Current research indicates that CBD oil for migraines may help relieve symptoms. A two-phase study in 2017 chronicled the CBD use of groups of migraine and headache sufferers. The first phase featured migraine patients, and the next part sported those with headaches issues.
During the study, up to 43% of respondents stated that their pain was reduced. Another study cites CBD for migraines as lowering anxiety and encouraging sleep, factors that account for migraine triggers in many patients.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Migraines
Migraines are a severe and debilitating condition. Millions of Americans lose work, sleep, and valuable moments from this disorder. While there are many traditional remedies, CBD oil for migraines may be a viable option.
Most medicines focus on treating blood flow, an approach that may not yield a significant effect for some sufferers. CBD derived from hemp may help to interrupt or halt key sequences in pain signaling. It is also a plant-based compound.
Despite its possible benefits, there are a few risks with CBD. CBD oil migraines and CBD oil headaches may occur as a result of use, which may defeat the purpose entirely. Other side effects may include slight dizziness, drowsiness, and dry mouth. However, adjusting dosages may resolve these effects. As researchers conduct more studies on CBD and migraines, users can become more informed about its efficacy.