Can CBD help with migraines?

Can CBD help with migraines?

In recent years, medical cannabis has been offered as a miracle cure for any healthcare condition, sparking interest in the migraine community in its use for relief.
Although not exactly considered a miracle cure , a new class of CBD-based products (Cannabidiol) has been shown to have benefits for a wide range of medical conditions.

What is CBD
Cannabidiol or CBD is a compound derived from high-CBD hemp.
It contains a much lower concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main mind-altering ingredient in cannabis.
While both CBD and THC have been shown to have positive effects on migraine attacks, CBD products are non-psychoactive and therefore a safer and less controversial treatment for patients.

Conditions Uses
CBD-rich cannabis is used to provide relief without the feelings of lethargy that usually accompany the use of medical cannabis.
This is ideal for patients suffering from any form of inflammation, pain, spasms, seizures or anxiety.
Clinical research conducted to date shows that CBD has the potential to treat various medical conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Mental conditions such as schizophrenia or depression
  • Antibacterial bacterial infections

Evidence shows that CBD is safe to use even at high doses and several academic institutions are investigating its value in the treatment or prevention of cancer. It makes sense, therefore, that some patients are likely to have tried and tested CBD to find relief from migraines. And while the value of its use cannot yet be proven through clinical studies, there is enough anecdotal evidence obtained from research to suggest that it has some effect.

Effects of CBD on migraine
The findings of a study conducted at two medical cannabis medical clinics in Colorado were published in the Journal of Pharmacotherapy in May 2016. A group of 121 regular migraine patients used medical cannabis daily between 2010 and 2014 and found that the frequency of migraine headaches decreased from 10.4 headaches per month to 4.6. They used cannabis in various forms and found that when injected at the beginning of an attack it helped stop the headache. Edible forms caused more negative side effects than other forms.

In another study, a California-based medical cannabis industry company called Care By Design tested 2,495 patients who used medical cannabis for more than 30 days over a six-month period between March and August 2015. The purpose of the research was to understand how patients use medical cannabis rich in the cannabidiol (CBD) molecule specifically. A total of 621 respondents met the criteria for inclusion in the survey. The results of this test showed that 100% of participants with migraines experienced a reduction in pain or discomfort. Only 50% of patients with other conditions reported improvements, however, suggesting that CBD is particularly effective for migraine headache attacks.

How CBD works and the role of serotonin
The use of CBD works to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks because it has an effect on serotonin in the patient’s central nervous system. Serotonin is an important chemical neurotransmitter in the human body. Scientists believe that serotonin affects patients’ moods, social behaviour, digestive problems, including appetite, sleep, memory and even the ability to experience sexual desire and function.

Serotonin is also considered by some to be the chemical responsible for balancing moods and a serotonin deficit is widely accepted as a cause of depression. Many antidepressants use selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to help increase serotonin levels and prevent depression.

Cannabinoids affect the way the serotonin transport system works, slowing down the amounts lost under normal conditions. The higher the levels of serotonin, the lower the risk of depression and related conditions such as migraine.

While the survey may not have all the answers yet, the links and messages are clear:

  • CBD acts on serotonin levels which affect depression, which is a known cause of migraine.
  • Although there is no documented research yet to prove that CBD helps migraine, anecdotal studies show 100% success when used by migraine patients.
  • Some forms show better results than others, such as daily CBD intake to prevent migraines and inhaling them to stop a migraine attack.

If you are struggling to find relief from regular, painful migraines, talk to your migraine doctor to see if using CBD could be a viable option for you.

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