CBD oil for migraines and headaches: can it help?

CBD oil for migraines and headaches: can it help?

Cannabis prohibition has limited our understanding of the medicinal properties of CBD and THC. The current state of research and available data only allows CBD to be prescribed to treat some forms of epilepsy. Many researchers believe that cannabis’s medicinal potential is not limited to only one remedy. We have a long way to go before CBD oil for migraines will be prescribed by a doctor, but the preliminary data is promising.

Most of the research and messaging in the past century has been dedicated to the dangers of cannabis. As we transition the developed world to legalization, expect to see more studies with human test subjects to answer definitively point to how CBD can be used to improve our lives.

One of the issues we are facing in the cannabis industry is the quality of studies that have been done. There are numerous scientific papers written about how CBD can treat anxiety that could cause a headache, the pain results from a migraine, and treating the frequency of these instances, however, they aren’t testing hundreds or thousands of human subjects. This is needed for government regulatory agencies to loosen the restrictions on what cannabis companies can say regarding CBD’s medicinal properties.

We have made progress, so for now we will have to assess the available data and hope that more is on the way.

What is a migraine? – Can CBD help?

For many, it is difficult to differentiate between a migraine and a headache. Migraines are not just severe head pain; the headache is only one symptom.

Medical News Today defines a migraine as ‘a type of primary headache disorder that can cause severe pain and other symptoms. People with migraine may experience recurring symptoms that doctors call episodes or attacks.’

Other symptoms associated with migraines are:

  • Mood swings
  • Food cravings
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Frequent yawning
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, or smells
  • Flashing lights
  • Zig-zagging lines
  • Blurred vision
  • Blind spots
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty comprehending others speech
  • Difficulty writing
  • Trouble thinking clearly
CBD oil for migraines and headaches relief

The symptoms of a migraine can encompass all the senses. Most people can deal with a headache, but a migraine makes it difficult to perform simple tasks.

Researchers and doctors have identified anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders as a few of the main risk factors associated with migraines. Stress, mental health disorders, lack of sleep, and alcohol consumption can trigger a migraine.

CBD oil for migraines – Why it could help

CBD has a wide array of potential medicinal benefits. Three that apply to helping with migraines are relieving pain, reducing stress or anxiety, and improving sleep. As we have said, we don’t have substantial research to definitively say that CBD is a treatment for any of these disorders, but you can find overwhelming anecdotal evidence to suggest that CBD has potential in these areas.

We don’t have many studies that specifically concentrate on CBD oil for migraines, but hundreds are covering these three major causes and triggers.

Review on pain

This scientific article done in April of 2020, discusses many studies since the year 2000 looking at CBD’s potential in treating pain. The research cites studies that from all types of conditions that result in pain, ranging from MS, spinal cord injury, limb amputation, kidney transplants, and fibromyalgia. The authors believe that most of these studies are well-designed, randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled.

Study on anxiety/sleep

A fairly large case study was done in 2019 observing CBD’s potential to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. This study was done in Colorado by researchers from Universities around the Denver area.

The study consisted of 103 adult patients. Most were given a 25mg dose in capsule form. Patients who stated that their main concern was their anxiety were given CBD in the day, the remaining that were more concerned about their sleep disorder were given their dose at night. The two disorders are closely related, very few people diagnosed with sleep disorders don’t also report having an issue with anxiety.

After one month of closely monitored, consistent use, the group with primary concerns of anxiety reported a 79% reported improvement. The group with primary concerns of sleep reported 66% better sleeping scores.

Both assessments are promising, but 100 test subjects are too small. We need further controlled studies to prove that CBD can help people with these issues.

CBD oil for migraines and headaches relief

Frequency of migraines

A study that specifically analyzed migraines was done between 2010 and 2014 using 120 human test subjects. Migraine frequency was decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 per month with the use of medical marijuana.

Other cannabinoids and terpenes could provide migraine relief

The medical marijuana study is very telling when you consider the other components of full and broad-spectrum CBD products. Medical marijuana does contain THC levels above the allowed amounts for CBD companies, but THC may not be the only factor in treating migraines.

Cannabis is made up of two types of chemical compounds: cannabinoids and terpenes. CBD and THC are cannabinoids along with over 100 other known compounds.

Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the distinct smell of cannabis. All plants contain these unique oils, they have been used in natural medicine for thousands of years. Experts believe that some terpenes can have the same medicinal properties as CBD and THC. Beta-caryophyllene is believed to be a major component in a strain of cannabis that is recommended to treat migraines.

Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products contain the plant's full profile, including other cannabinoids and terpenes. The potential medicinal properties of these compounds are believed to deliver an elevated CBD experience.

Traditional headache treatments

When most people get a headache, they turn to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers, also known as NSAIDs. Every day over 30 million Americans take these over-the-counter drugs to treat headaches and other minor daily discomforts, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.

Taking these drugs doesn’t come without the potential for serious consequences, especially when taken frequently. The FDA recently required these drug companies to revise their labels to contain warnings about possible risks of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side-effects and allergic reactions.

Experts believe that NSAIDs also increase the risk for heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, heartburn, ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and kidney damage.

Turning to prescription drugs like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin for pain relief have even more severe risks and can lead to opioid addiction.

WebMD warns users to never take NSAIDs for more than 10 days in a row. These drugs aren’t designed for regular use. Users taking these drugs everyday are at risk of suffering severe side-effects.

If you are experiencing regular headaches, we recommend taking a multifaceted approach rather than popping three or four Advils each day. Treating the causes of these frequent headaches can be done naturally. Changes in diet, weight loss, yoga, meditation, and frequent exercise could help treat the causes of the headaches rather than taking a reactionary approach and relieving the pain with NSAIDs.

CBD oil for migraines and headaches relief

Using CBD oil for headaches, migraines, and other types of pain could be a factor in a long-term, multifaceted approach to pain relief. We suggest eating more fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise, and taking CBD oil every day.

CBD is non-intoxicating, it’s not addictive, and doesn’t have any major side-effects. Taking an all-natural approach is much safer than relying on over-the-counter drugs. Experts also believe that CBD could potentially help many of the common causes of headaches including anxiety and poor sleep.

Dosage for migraine relief

If you are taking CBD oil for migraines for the first time, it is best to start slow. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all dosage suggestion for all CBD users. This means that each user will have to find their dose. Starting with 10-20mg and working your way up to find your dose is recommended. A typical dose of CBD is between 25-75mg.

Topical or oral

Picking the right CBD depends on the source of pain. Many CBD users like topical CBD products because they can be directly applied to their sore muscles or joints. Experts believe that CBD can affect the CB2 receptors throughout the body. These endocannabinoid receptors are primarily located on white blood cells. We recommend using topical CBD products for injuries, sore muscles or joints, and areas of the body with inflammation.

Taking CBD orally allows the CBD to be distributed throughout the body. This is the best approach for headaches. CBD absorbed under the tongue will enter the bloodstream and be distributed to the brain and central nervous system.

CBD for migraines

Doctors could one day prescribe CBD for migraines. This would most likely be one part of an overall lifestyle change in an attempt to stop the cause of migraines. For now, we are left to make these decisions on our own.

If you are looking to use CBD for headaches or migraines, we suggest trying to determine what is causing your condition. This way you will be able to find the right CBD product. We suggest taking full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products because of the other cannabinoids and terpenes. Always consult with a doctor if you are feeling any irregularities after taking CBD.

TL;DR: Because it can help tackle their causes, CBD can provide natural relief for migraines and headaches, with none of the risks associated with NSAIDs. Opt for broad-spectrum or full-spectrum products to benefit from the medicinal properties of the other cannabinoids and terpenes that they contain. Whichever you choose, we recommend taking CBD as part of an overall lifestyle change in an effort to stop the causes of migraines.

Yesterday offers a full-line of hemp derived CBD oil, containing broad-spectrum hemp extract and zero THC. Check out our full selection of oils and softgels to help bring calm to your daily life. To learn more about the CBD basics, we recommend reading more from our CBD 101 articles, available here.