If you suffer from chronic migraines, you know how difficult it can be to live your life without debilitating headaches interfering with everything you do.
Thankfully, there are some natural and holistic options that can help you get relief without relying on risky and expensive prescription medications.
CBD oil may just be one of the most effective ways to control your migraines naturally, but how does it work?
Does it really help with migraines? What’s the difference between CBD oil and CBD pills?
Here are answers to these questions and more so you can decide if this method of treatment is right for you.
Traditional medication and side effects
Traditional pain relief medication can have unpleasant side effects.
For instance, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen can cause bleeding in the stomach or kidney damage, naproxen (Aleve) has side effects like dizziness and sleepiness, and aspirin carries a risk of stomach bleeding.
While some patients are able to manage these unpleasant side effects with the right type of medication and dosage, others are not.
Moreover, traditional pain relief medications don’t always work. These drugs also typically take hours to kick in, which is problematic when people need fast relief from a migraine attack.
With that said, CBD oil offers an alternative solution for those who want to avoid traditional medication because of the uncomfortable side effects and long wait times before they take effect.
Unlike many other options, CBD works almost immediately and doesn’t have negative side effects. In fact, you may feel more energized rather than drowsy after taking CBD.
That’s because CBD promotes relaxation without the sedative effect associated with opioids.
A big concern about using opioid medications for migraines is that these drugs increase your risk of addiction if used often enough.
On top of that, they can also be lethal if taken in large doses. On the other hand, CBD doesn’t pose any danger to your health and addiction isn’t a concern either–in part because CBD doesn’t contain any addictive properties.
How does CBD help with headaches?
The simplest answer is that CBD helps with headaches by reducing inflammation in the brain. When you have a headache, your body has an immune response.
T-cells and macrophages come to your brain’s lining and release inflammatory chemicals like interleukin-1 beta, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and nitric oxide into the bloodstream which increase blood flow to your head.
These chemicals also cause blood vessels in your head to contract and this can lead to pain. One way CBD may help reduce these painful effects is by stopping the cells from releasing inflammatory chemicals.
It also reduces the contracted muscles around blood vessels so they are more likely to open up again and let more oxygen and nutrients into your head.
The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS)
The body’s endocannabinoid system is made up of the body’s own substances that bind to cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and central nervous system.
These neurotransmitters are called endocannabinoids, a category of lipids that include anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
One endocannabinoid, 2-AG, is believed to have a lower affinity for CB1 receptors than anandamide. Therefore, in order to achieve the same effect as THC, one would need a greater amount of 2-AG.
As one can see from this theory alone, CBD is not just some new fad or trend in treating pain and inflammation but rather has been found naturally occurring in our bodies all along.
There are many people who suffer from headaches each day and find no relief, CBD could be the answer they’ve been looking for!
Cannabinoids, the cannabis compounds
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that naturally occur in cannabis plants. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two best-known cannabinoids and do not have intoxicating effects, but may still have medical uses.
THC is psychoactive, meaning that it causes changes in thoughts, perceptions, or moods. It is typically used for its pain relieving properties, by people with conditions such as cancer and chronic pain.
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp oil that has been proven to treat chronic inflammation. CBD has anti-inflammatory and anti-pain effects when ingested orally, applied topically, or inhaled through an e-cigarette.
Recent studies have shown that CBD helps alleviate headaches and migraines through a number of mechanisms including blocking pain receptors and triggering serotonin release from platelets.
Migraine treatments can be either prophylactic or acute; prophylactic treatments generally try to prevent the headache from happening, while acute treatments provide relief during an attack.
One study showed that taking 600mg of CBD was just as effective at treating acute migraine symptoms after 24 hours as 25mg of codeine.
However, it’s important to note that there are side effects associated with using CBD because some patients experience dry mouth and sleepiness due to increases in serotonin levels.
Understanding the endocannabinoid system (ECS)
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for all marijuana’s effects. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, which regulate cognitive function, emotional response, motor skills, and more.
CBD works by boosting endocapinoid levels in the brain which helps promote relaxation and a sense of well-being. Its main mechanism of action is through the 5HT1A receptor, which regulates anxiety and depression.
CBD also has antipsychotic properties that help people with schizophrenia or related psychotic disorders. It can help to reduce symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, or even mood disturbances like depression.
Anxiety and seizures are other things that CBD could potentially help with. With these benefits, CBD may be able to provide relief from chronic pain, inflammation, and mental health conditions.
What about other cannabinoids?
Most people take a CBD supplement as a capsule that’s easy to swallow, but you can also eat foods or drink teas that contain CBD. There are also topical products like balms and lotions that are rubbed onto the skin.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with receptors on cells throughout your body, helping bring relief from pain, anxiety, seizures, spasms, and other conditions.
The cannabinoids activate two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and nervous system while CB2 receptors have been found mostly in immune tissues.
The activation of these cannabinoid receptors causes changes in neurotransmitter release in areas such as the brain which will alleviate symptoms of chronic pain by reducing inflammation (Pain Med 2015).
Migraine sufferers should know that their head pain is more than just an ache.
A headache triggers an inflammatory response in your central nervous system and can actually be life-threatening if left untreated.
If you’re struggling with frequent headaches, talk to your doctor about whether a prescription medication may be right for you or consider taking CBD supplements instead.
What about vaping vs. smoking vs. tinctures?
Smoking is by far the quickest way to get CBD in your system, but the benefits are not entirely clear. Vaping allows for a clean inhale, and you can change the temperature settings to match what’s most comfortable for you, as well as control how much CBD is absorbed in once.
Tinctures offer a cost-effective solution that may be more appropriate if you need long-term relief, or if you have a low tolerance. Tinctures also allow you to customize the concentration of CBD they contain, while sprays and edibles often contain up to 100mg per dose.
It all depends on what your needs are! Do you want quick relief, or do you want something longer-lasting? Do you want to vape it, smoke it, drink it as a tincture, eat an edible with it – whatever works best for you!
It all depends on what your needs are! Do you want quick relief, or do you want something longer-lasting?
Is there a difference between hemp and marijuana?
Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species – cannabis sativa L. Hemp contains only trace amounts of THC and has a CBD to THC ratio of 20 to 1.
Marijuana, on the other hand, contains 10% or more THC, which is a powerful psychoactive drug that gets you high. They both have plenty of medicinal applications too! The analgesic (pain relieving) effects of CBD are not just limited to headaches.
In fact, its benefits range from stopping seizures in children with Dravet syndrome (a rare form of epilepsy) to mitigating arthritis pain and treating skin conditions like eczema.
Is cannabidiol (CBD) legal in my state?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a Schedule I drug in the United States, so please check to see if your state allows you to use CBD as a treatment. You can find a list of states with medical marijuana programs here.
In addition, you’ll need to talk to your doctor about whether this treatment is right for you. Your doctor will be able to determine if you’re a good candidate and prescribe the correct dosage based on any other medications or conditions that you have.
And don’t forget – when using CBD, it’s best to start slowly and gradually increase your dose until you feel like the benefits outweigh the side effects.
As always, consult your physician before making changes to your health routine.
Are there any risks to using CBD products?
There are risks with CBD that may be beneficial to users. CBD products can produce side effects, such as changes in mood, sleep disturbances, and impaired thinking.
However, these are typically less severe than the symptoms of anxiety or depression which they help reduce.
For example, one study found that CBD was effective at reducing social anxiety among people who were not anxious before taking it.
The main risk associated with CBD is the possibility of becoming dependent on its use if a person starts using it daily or has an underlying psychological condition.
In this case, they would likely experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it. Dependence rates for CBD are very low; however, research on long-term use is limited so there may be risks we don’t know about yet.
Can I get addicted to CBD oil?
Many people are scared of using CBD because they think they’ll get addicted. While there’s no evidence that CBD causes addiction, it is possible to become addicted to other substances that use the same receptors in the brain as cannabinoids.
The risk is higher when people start at a young age or when taking drugs like opioids, cocaine, and amphetamines. For example, if you were on high doses of morphine for long periods of time your body might react differently to small doses of cannabis-derived cannabidiol than someone who never took any opioid medications.
There are studies being done now with animals on whether chronic exposure can lead to addictive behaviors. If you’re worried about the addiction potential with CBD oil, be aware that the product has few psychoactive effects.
That means you won’t feel an altered state of mind from consuming CBD. You also won’t get high from taking CBD unless you take a very large dose.