COULD CBD HELP WITH MIGRAINE HEADACHES?
Are you one of the 40 million Americans who get migraines every year? Some studies indicate medical marijuana may have a positive impact; more research needs to be done on CBD for migraines.
If you’ve ever had a migraine, we don’t have to tell you that they are freaking debilitating! An attack can knock you out of commission for anywhere from 4 hours to 72 hours—and we aren’t getting that precious time back.
Maybe you’ve already tried the major defenses against migraines (like lifestyle changes & medications) and found that they don’t completely work... If that’s the case, you’re far from alone! Making changes to avoid triggers doesn’t always provide relief, and medications can be ineffective or have harsh side effects.
When you can’t get relief, you start to look into alternative solutions. Could cannabidiol (CBD) be one of them?
Article Feature: What is CBD?
We’re going to take a look at what some research says… but first, let’s go over the common steps advocated by experts:
Lifestyle changes are the first line of defense against migraines
Your doctor will likely recommend that you make lifestyle changes to avoid migraine triggers. Everyone has different migraine triggers, but the Mayo Clinic outlines common migraine triggers:
- Getting too little or too much sleep
- Skipping meals
- Physical exercise
- Weather changes
- Sensory stimulation:such as bright lights and strong smells
- Medications:including oral contraceptives and vasodilators
- Foods:including aged cheese, high sodium foods, processed foods, and foods containing MSG or aspartame
If you’re a woman, estrogen fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle can trigger migraines right before or during your period. Unfortunately, that’s not a trigger you can avoid short of taking contraceptives to skip your period… which could trigger migraines in itself.
The problem with migraine meds
Many commonly prescribed medications for migraines may work, at first. But if you need to use them frequently, you can end up with medication overuse headaches.
You can get medication overuse headaches if you take:
- Aspirin or ibuprofenfor more than 15 days a month
- Triptans, sumatriptan, or rizatriptanfor more than 9 days a month
- Combination painkillersfor more than 10 days a month for 3 months
Here’s what the evidence says about CBD for migraines
Because cannabidiol comes from the hemp plant and it’s only been federally legal for a short period of time, there needs to be a lot more research on its specific potential to address migraines.
Most current research on the impact of cannabinoids on headaches and migraines looks at cannabis with THC, not less-psychoactive CBD alone. For instance, a 2016 study found that 39% of people surveyed reported fewer migraine attacks after using marijuana. And a 2018 study surveyed people with chronic pain (including migraines and headaches) and found that “many pain patients substituted prescription medications with cannabis.”
But Ohio State University neurologist Dr. Kevin Weber says, “optimally, there would be a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial studying CBD versus placebo for migraine treatment. There have been no studies at all with pure CBD and headache treatment.”
That said, many users do report CBD has a positive impact on different types of pain, and there is some research that implies it may have an effect.
For instance, a 2015 study stated that “CBD attenuates inflammation and pain without side effects” in rat models. And a 2016 study concluded that “cannabidiol provides long-lasting protection against the deleterious effects of inflammation” in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, an inflammatory disease that can cause migraines.
Nevertheless, no medical claims can currently be made about CBD and migraines. And if you decide to try it, consult with your physician first!
How to use CBD
What’s not in doubt is that CBD helps people chill out and reduce excessive worry—certain forms of pain relief might be an added benefit. And there are plenty of ways to use CBD including:
- Dropping an oil tincture under your tongue(sublingual CBD)
- Eating some CBD gummies
- Inhaling CBD via vaporization
Note that tinctures usually start working 5 to 15 minutes, while edibles like gummies take longer, ranging from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Inhaling CBD works nearly instantly, but there may be inherent risks to inhaling any kind of vapor, including CBD.
As for dosage, there’s no set dose of CBD. That means start at a low amount and move it up gradually until you get the most relief and the fewest side effects. A low starting dose of CBD is around 20 mg per day.
Side effects and risks of using CBD
Like any substance, CBD can have side effects, even though the majority of people tolerate it well with few or none of them. The potential side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Low appetite
CBD can also interact with some medications, like blood thinners and birth control. So, again, be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before you start using it.
Sunday Scaries can bring you some much-needed chill
Over 40 million Americans have migraines every year, and if you’re one of them, you already know it can be hard to find a solution that works. The jury is still out on CBD for migraines, research-wise—though some studies on medical marijuana look promising.
And if the follow-on effects of pain—or just daily life—are causing excessive worry, trouble focusing, or nerve-wracking apprehension, that’s where Sunday Scaries can help. CBD can take the edge off and reset your equilibrium on those days where life throws you some curveballs.
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