Will CBD oil help treat my migraines?

Migraine headaches are often difficult to treat and may not respond to conventional treatments.  Severe headaches, nausea, impaired vision, light sensitivity, and disorientation are just some of the symptoms that can last for days. Now that medical marijuana for medicinal use has become more acceptable, many sufferers are curious about whether it can help them.

Does CBD oil work for a migraine?

The use of cannabis to treat migraines goes back a long way in history. A Dr. Clendinning prescribed cannabis (THC content was much lower then) for migraines in the 1840s. This London doctor was the first Westerner to do so. In 1890, Sir John Russell Reynolds suggested in a review of his 30 years of clinical experience that the prescription of cannabis was indicated for migraines. He was the British Royal family’s physician. Researchers have had difficulties studying the effects of using cannabis for medical purposes due to its illegal status. This is why we still have to depend largely on anecdotal evidence and a few animal studies. A few laboratory studies, historical use, and the anecdotal evidence do all combine to indicate potential benefits.

The use of CBD oil in treating migraines still needs to be studied more by doing double-blind clinical trials.  Some research has been done on using cannabis to prevent or treat migraine headaches. A study made at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the University of Colorado showed that sufferers experienced fewer migraines when they inhaled marijuana. Researchers questioned 121 patients who attended the Gedde Whole Health medical practice. Overall, patients reported that the frequency of their migraines per month dropped by half. This study had many inadequacies in that the sample size was small and prior cannabis use was not taken into account.  However, the results are still encouraging for migraine sufferers.

The human body makes its own cannabinoids and has cannabinoid receptors. This system regulates certain processes inside the body such as dilation of blood vessels. The cannabinoids in marijuana are able to find the receptors in the body and reduce the dilation of blood vessels. This is important for migraine sufferers who experience pain because their blood vessels dilate and create pressure. Cannabinoids can also prevent glutamate from being released from nerve cells. This neurotransmitter is responsible for the sometimes excruciating secondary pain caused by migraine headaches.

 Straightening out a few misconceptions

  • It’s the THC in marijuana that makes you high. Cannabidiol (CBD) is not psychoactive so it doesn’t make you high.
  • CBD oil can be extracted from marijuana or hemp as they are both of the cannabis genus. The CBD oil that comes from marijuana is only legal in a few states but CBD oil that comes from hemp is legal in all states.
  • CBD actually counteracts the paranoia or anxiety that may be caused by THC.
  • CBD products often contain no THC or only trace amounts. A person using CBD products is not likely to test positive for THC in a standard drug test.

What kind of CBD oil is best for a migraine?

CBD products come in the form of capsules, tinctures, dabs and vape oils. Based on feedback from sufferers, the drops or tinctures seem to be most popular, with capsules coming a close second.

The dosage when using a tincture is usually about 5 drops three times a day. A tincture should not be diluted. It is easier to dispense drops from the tincture into a teaspoon and then consume it, rather than dropping it directly into the mouth. CBD is slightly bitter and it can be taken with a little bit of honey to sweeten the taste.

Many different strains of marijuana have been cultivated to have different effects. Even the same strain can vary, depending upon growing conditions. The website Leafly gives information on the positive and negative effects of different strains based on the feedback of users. You can search according to your condition, migraine, or search for a symptom such as nausea.

If you are buying products from a dispensary, not every strain will be available. The staff should be able to inform you about the strains they carry and what is most likely to be useful for your symptoms. Remember if you are buying CBD hemp products online, quality can vary greatly. They must be bought from a reputable supplier. Some companies market products that contain hardly any CBD and make their oil from inferior hemp.  Products made from pharmaceutical grade hemp grown in the U.S. are best.

CBD oil without THC may be sufficient to treat migraines but in extreme cases, CBD oils may be supplemented with a small amount of THC. A strain endorsed by many dispensaries is a 20:1 strain of CBD to THC.  The inclusion of a small amount of CBD makes the oil more powerful due to what is called the ‘entourage’ effect.  This effect comes from the interactive synergy between all the active components found in the plant.

Micro-dosing when using a tincture that includes a little THC can allow you to build up a tolerance. This does not take more than a few days and dosing in this way allows you to build up to the necessary dosage to deal with your pain.  This will enable you to carry on with your daily life without being affected by the psychoactive effects of the THC.

 Many products use a ratio of CBD to THC and this is important to consider based on the relief you want to feel and your tolerance for the psychoactive nature of THC. Some people have a high negative sensitivity to THC. If so, it’s better to talk to a doctor or to staff at a reputable dispensary before trying a new product.  When using CBD oil it is always best to start off with the lowest recommended dosage, especially if the product contains a higher quantity of THC. You increase the dosage as you feel comfortable and until you have the desired effect.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26749285
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5436334/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/

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