How Does CBD Oil Work for Migraines?
Based on data from a 2010 study, an estimated 8.3% of Canadians reported being diagnosed with migraines. This equates to 2.7 million Canadians who have a migraine diagnosis, let alone those who do not seek professional help for the condition.
Migraines are intense headaches which may last anywhere from a few hours to several days. The condition can become debilitating and is often associated with nausea and vomiting.
Many migraine sufferers are turning to natural products, including cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD), to treat their condition. Traditional migraine treatments do not always work and are often associated with significant side effects.
What Is A Migraine?
A migraine is a severe headache often associated with severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation. Migraines generally begin in childhood to early adulthood and affect women three times more than men.
Symptoms of migraines include auras, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and sound sensitivity, which can last hours to days. Migraines are often debilitating and cause difficulty in performing simple daily tasks.
There are many triggers for migraines, including hormonal changes in women, caffeine, stress, bright lights, strong smells, sleep pattern changes, intense physical exertion, weather changes, medications, foods and food additives. Managing migraines can be challenging and often involves significant lifestyle changes.
Traditional Migraine Treatments
Traditional migraine treatments include a combination of diet modification, exercise, and pharmaceutical medication. These pharmaceuticals include a wide range of medications aimed at relieving pain and preventing future migraine attacks, including over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, triptans, dihydroergotamines, opioid medications, and anti-nauseants.
Triptans, such as Imitrex and Maxalt, are medications that block pain pathways in the brain and can relieve the symptoms of migraine during an attack, while dihydroergotamines, such as Migranal, are utilized to relieve migraine symptoms that generally last longer than 24 hours. Other treatments for migraines include Botox injections and acupuncture treatments.
One of the newest medications for migraines is Aimovig, a calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) that is given by monthly injection and intended to prevent migraine attacks.
Finding the appropriate combination of strategies to manage migraines can be challenging and migraine sufferers are often looking for more effective ways to manage their symptoms. CBD treatment shows good promise in helping migraine sufferers manage their condition.
Pain and the Endocannabinoid System
A recent study in the Pain Control Journal highlighted the role of the endocannabinoid system in managing pain: “the endocannabinoid system is now known to be one of the key endogenous systems regulating pain sensation, with modulatory actions at all stages of pain processing pathways.”
The endocannabinoid system is a network made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors, which control the stimulation of nerve cells to increase or decrease pain signals. If the endocannabinoid system is functioning efficiently, pain signals will only be present as a response to acute pain, however, if the endocannabinoid system experiences dysregulation, pain signals will be present without an acute stimulus and the result is chronic pain. This condition is referred to as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD).
Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency
Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) is a condition in which the human body does not produce enough endocannabinoids to maintain homeostasis. There is also a strong correlation between individuals with diagnosed CECD who also suffer from migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other functional conditions.
A recent study found that “migraine has numerous relationships to endocannabinoid function. Anandamide (AEA) potentiates 5-HT1A and inhibits 5-HT2A receptors supporting therapeutic efficacy in acute and preventative migraine treatment. Cannabinoids also demonstrate dopamine-blocking and anti-inflammatory effects”. Therefore, cannabinoid-related treatments may improve the symptoms of migraine in individuals suffering from CECD.
Another study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that the anticonvulsive, analgesic, antiemetic, and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids present a promising class of compounds to actively and prophylactically treat migraines. Researchers further noted that “the abundance of CB1 receptors in the brain makes them an attractive target for the treatment of migraine via blocking not only peripheral but also the central nociceptive traffic and reducing the pathologically enhanced cortical excitability predisposing to CSD. CB2 receptors in immune cells can be targeted to reduce the inflammatory component associated with severe forms of migraine.” Therefore, cannabinoid therapy shows great promise to treat migraines, although CBD specific studies are needed.
It should be noted that available studies regarding the use of cannabinoid-based treatments for migraines studied cannabinoid preparations that included both cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether the THC or CBD had a greater impact on the symptoms being treated.
Further CBD specific studies are warranted to determine if CBD is an effective treatment for migraines. Subjective patient reports suggest that patients do attain relief when CBD is used, however, there is no current scientific research to prove this theory. With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada and a growing base of medical cannabis users, researchers are hopeful that they will be able to thoroughly study the effects of CBD specific therapies on a wide range of conditions.
Apollo Clinics Can Help
Apollo Cannabis Clinic is an evidence-based clinic who has been conducting observational research on medical cannabis and conditions since 2014. The staff includes health care professionals to assist patients of all ages and backgrounds.
In order to access Apollo’s services, begin by filling out a form here. Once the information has been submitted and reviewed an Apollo representative will contact you to book an appointment with one of our doctors.
During the initial appointment, individuals will disclose their medical history and past cannabis use, and the doctor will determine an appropriate treatment plan with regards to cannabis. It is important to be honest and open with the doctor as it will provide them the best chance at helping individuals manage their condition with cannabis.
Apollo Cannabis Doctors have assisted numerous patients in managing migraine symptoms and incorporating cannabis into their migraine management strategy and are available to help individuals determine how best to control their migraine symptoms.