Latest News & Information on Medical Marijuana & CBD for Migraines Treatment
- 5 min read
- Updated 329 days ago
Your head throbs and pulses in pain, you are nauseous and vomiting, and any amount of light sears like a lightning bolt behind your eyes and into your brain.
You are experiencing another full-blown migraine, and relief seems like a distant and hopeless dream.
It might help you to know you are not alone. More than 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation. What might help you more than this, though, is knowing that a “new” wave of old treatments derived from cannabis plants has surfaced as a way of treating some of the pain associated with migraines.
CBD and Medical Marijuana Treatments for Migraines
Hemp and marijuana both belong to the cannabis Sativa genus of plants. They are drawing a great deal of interest these days because the plants contain special ingredients called cannabinoids, which researchers are recognizing as viable, natural means for alleviating symptoms—possibly even cures—for a variety of medical conditions. Migraines are one of these conditions.
The information in this article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis and does not replace seeing a mental health professional. If you think you are suffering from this disease, consult with a health professional immediately. To find a health professional in the Highbrow network, click here.
Causes of Migraines
Migraines remain somewhat of a mystery. Many people suffer the agony of these throbbing, nausea-inducing headaches their whole lives without ever being diagnosed or treated.
According to Mayo Clinic, scientists, too, struggle with understanding migraines. To date, their best medical guesses about an underlying cause point to chemical imbalances in the brain, particularly of the pain-regulating chemical, serotonin. Additional suspects behind these attacks include various other neurotransmitters, as well as the brainstem and the trigeminal nerve, which is a major route on which pain signals travel.
Medical researchers have managed to identify several migraine triggers, including:
- Alcohol, coffee, wine
- Certain foods
- Weather changes
- Hormonal changes and medications
- Sleep changes
- Food additives, like MSG
- Intense physical exertion
CBD and MMJ as Treatments for Migraine
Many migraine sufferers treat their symptoms with over-the-counter painkillers, like Excedrin Migraine or ibuprofen, or various triptans. The problem with these medications is that a migraine sufferer can face severe headaches from overuse of the medications, which is almost inevitable because the medications eventually stop working. When the overuse headache kicks in, the patient consumes even more of the medication, which only serves to keep the cycle alive.
Also, some patients try on their pharmacist hat and combine their triptan medications with antidepressants, which can heighten their risk of developing serotonin syndrome.
Understandably, migraine sufferers are tired of the cycles, the risks, and the side effects associated with pharmaceutical solutions to their migraine symptoms. Fortunately, a new crop of natural migraine remedies is literally growing to offer an alternative.
"A 2016 study suggests that MMJ may help reduce the frequency of migraine episodes"
Treating Migraine Symptoms With CBD and/or MMJ
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid found in both hemp and marijuana plants. Unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main active ingredient in marijuana, CBD has no psychoactive properties, so it doesn’t get you high like THC will. At the same time, CBD retains many medicinal properties found in THC.
In short, both CBD and THC found in medical marijuana (MMJ) have been tapped for use in treating migraines. CBD is getting the lion’s share of attention these days, though, because it offers symptom relief without the high associated with MMJ.
Both CBD and MMJ interact with your endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids act a lot like cannabis molecules work, and their job is to regulate pain, inflammation, and anxiety. When a migraine patient takes CBD in an oil, for example, it prompts their body to increase production of its own endocannabinoids, according to an article about CBD for migraines published in U.S. News & World Report.
The result? The endocannabinoid system balance is restored, and the pain associated with the migraine is alleviated.
Pain: The Number-One Use of CBD and MMJ
Migraine patients should take a great deal of encouragement from the fact that pain is the most scientifically acknowledged and validated use of CBD and MMJ. In fact, NBC reports that medical marijuana is used more for pain than for any other medical condition or disorder.
Even the Arthritis Foundation has embraced the use of these cannabinoids for the treatment of painful arthritis symptoms. It has gone so far as to publish a user guide for people who suffer from the condition.
CBD and MMJ are also gaining traction as natural remedies for both stress and sleep-related disorders, like insomnia. Both of these conditions are named as common triggers for migraines, so in the interest of preventing a migraine episode, cannabis may also play a role in your treatment program.
People Are Using CBD, and Science Is Catching Up
Scientific research about MMJ as a migraine treatment is lagging, but a 2016 study suggests that MMJ may help reduce the frequency of migraine episodes.
Still, in 2017, a literature review into the use of cannabis for headache disorders acknowledged that research on headache-related applications is limited, despite the promise that cannabis has shown for neuropathic pain. However, the study says that there are “sufficient anecdotal and preliminary results, as well as plausible neurobiological mechanisms, to warrant properly designed clinical trials.”
We hope that the science of CBD and MMJ for migraine treatment will catch up with real-world, user experiences.
Ways to Take CBD for Migraine
There are many ways you can take CBD or MMJ to treat the symptoms of your migraine. You can vape it, smoke it, eat it, place a few drops under your tongue, or apply it on your skin in the form of a cream or lotion.
Most users agree that the effects are most quickly felt when a cannabis product is inhaled. For sustained, time-release effects, you may want to try a capsule. For soothing achy muscles, a lotion or oil might work best.
You need not be concerned about getting addicted if you begin using CBD for migraines. The World Health Organization issued a report in 2018 on the topic, concluding that CBD is not habit-forming and does not pose a risk to public health.
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