CBD For Migraines: What Should You Expect?

There are many arguments in favor of and against the apparent medical potential of CBD. Those who believe CBD can help with various medical issues point to its effects on the cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system (ECS). They also suggest that it is safer than prescription medication with fewer side effects and hardly any chance of addiction.

Certainly, it is becoming popular amongst individuals with migraines. According to the National Institute of Health, an estimated 36 million Americans suffer from migraines. Let’s see if CBD oil can help if you are among this number.

Conventional Migraine Treatments and Their Side Effects

Before discussing CBD oil for migraines, let’s look at the most popular over-the-counter and prescription medication options and their potential side effects.

Many doctors admit their first recommendation for migraine sufferers is a simple over-the-counter combination analgesic like Excedrin. This drug is effectively a mixture of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. This medication is relatively safe if taken sporadically. However, frequent use could lead to ulcers, kidney damage, and even stroke or heart attack.

In more severe or chronic cases of migraine, physicians usually prescribe a class of drugs called triptans.

In more severe or chronic cases of migraine, physicians usually prescribe a class of drugs called triptans like Imitrex or Treximet. These drugs work by increasing serotonin levels and constricting blood vessels in the brain. While they’re effective, they’re prone to causing dizziness, nausea, extreme drowsiness, and/or tightness in the chest.

Another class of migraine medication called ergotamines, and mild opioids like morphine and Oxycontin are also common prescriptions for acute migraine sufferers. However, the side effects of these drugs are truly devastating. Opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999. Meanwhile, ergotamines like Migranal and Ergomar could promote various serious medical conditions. These include heart attack, stroke, congenital disabilities in pregnant women, and even toxicosis if taken along with antibiotics or antifungal medications.

Preventative (as opposed to acute onset) treatment options are also common. These include drugs like verapamil (a calcium channel blocker), amitriptyline (an antidepressant), and anticonvulsants, which act by “calming” overactive nerves in the brain.

These drugs are not as dangerous as ergotamines or opioids. Nonetheless, preventative treatments can produce a sweeping array of side effects. These include nausea, low blood pressure, weight gain, and a decreased libido (low sex drive).

CBD for Migraines: What Is CBD?

For the uninitiated, CBD (cannabidiol) is the non-intoxicating component of cannabis. This means that, unlike THC, it doesn’t get you high. Rather, it works by interacting with an endogenous (naturally occurring inside the body) network of cannabinoid receptors, specifically, G-protein coupled CB-1 and CB-2 receptors in the central nervous system.

Under normal circumstances, these receptors interact with naturally occurring endocannabinoids. They influence such factors as – among other things – pain sensation, appetite, memory, and immune response.

If there is a deficiency or lack of naturally occurring endocannabinoids in the body, the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors will have nothing to bind to. Therefore, they can’t carry out the chemical pathways required for healthy, normative functioning.

This is where CBD comes in. It acts as a supplement or “replacement” in the instance of an endocannabinoid deficiency. Unlike THC, it can “do its job” and function perfectly well without having to entirely overwhelm the cannabinoid receptors (i.e., without you becoming intoxicated).

Imagine you visit the doctor and discover that the chronic muscle cramping you’ve been suffering from is due to potassium deficiency. A simple enough fix, right? You eat some bananas, and the muscles can now function as they’re supposed to.

It is the same with CBD. Perhaps the migraines you have are due to an endocannabinoid deficiency in a particular area of the brain. Migraines are possibly related to endocannabinoid deficiencies. A simple CBD regimen could potentially help quell the pain.

Current Research on CBD for Migraine Treatment

The major underlying problem with considering CBD as a viable option for migraines is simply a lack of data and scientific research available to ‘quantify’ its effectiveness.

However, there are studies on CBD oil for migraines. Forbes published an article on a recent study out of the European Academy of Neurology. It showed the active compounds in CBD were more effective at reducing acute migraine pain than prescription medications. Moreover, it also had fewer side effects than both amitriptyline and verapamil, which were the prescription meds in question.

The active compounds in CBD were more effective at reducing acute migraine pain than prescription medications.

All of this only backs up a host of earlier publications that have showcased nearly identical results.

Some of the key numbers, in case you’re wondering:

Out of 121 adult participants, those who used CBD daily reported decreased overall migraines per month. Their rate of migraines decreased from 10.4 a month to 4.6.

There are a handful of publications we can reference from. However, CBD is still a far cry from receiving the kind of clinical attention necessary to become a first-choice treatment option in a general medical setting. For the time being, we’ll have to continue relying on the minimal research available. We can also look at the results reported by millions of people who have already used it (and are still using it) to provide relief.

Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Migraine

Research is ongoing, but what we know to date reflects well on CBD’s potential efficacy for helping reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. Whether the cannabinoid will ever ‘replace’ prescription and OTC drugs is another matter.

Before you buy the first oil you come across, bear in mind that some tinctures are higher quality than others. Here’s a quick look at some of the best-known CBD brands if you need something to help with a migraine.

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