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is cbd oil effective for migraines

The Truth About Treating Migraine With CBD and Marijuana

You’ve probably seen headlines announcing the legalization of marijuana in an increasing number of states. You’ve likely also noticed CBD showing up in more and more products every time you go shopping. And as someone with a chronic condition, you’ve likely been told that one or the other (or even both) can cure basically every symptom you’re experiencing. But just because something is legal to sell doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right treatment for your needs. And when you’re living with migraine, you can’t afford to waste your time on treatments that won’t work.

That’s why we spoke to board-certified neurologist and marijuana expert Dr. Eric Baron to get the facts on this trending treatment.

But before we get to the interview, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what we mean when we say “marijuana” and “CBD.” Marijuana is a type of plant whose flowers are famous for their psychoactive effects. You might know it by one of its other names, like cannabis, weed, or pot. No matter what you call it, it always has two main active ingredients. One is CBD, which stands for “cannabidiol.” The other is THC (that’s where the psychoactive effects come from).

Now that you know the basics, let’s get right to what you’re probably wondering.

Is there any scientific evidence that CBD or marijuana can relieve migraine?

Let’s start with CBD. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any trials evaluating pure CBD use in any pain, migraine, or other headache disorders, so it’s currently impossible to say for sure whether it works.

Marijuana, on the other hand, has been tested for migraine and headache in some small studies that suggest it could be beneficial, but there haven’t been enough well-controlled scientific trials to really prove it.

However, in January 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that there is substantial evidence that marijuana is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. Since different types of pain travel overlapping pathways in the brain, marijuana may work for migraine as well. We’ll need high-quality clinical studies to confirm this theory, but plenty of anecdotal evidence and smaller studies support it.

Have you treated patients who use marijuana or CBD?

I see patients who use these treatments often. In fact, I led a study of over 2,000 patients who were using marijuana as medication. 25% of them reported using marijuana for headache symptoms, and 88% of those were migraine sufferers.

How could marijuana or CBD work to relieve migraine?

Individually, CBD has great potential to relieve migraine pain because it’s several hundred times more anti-inflammatory than aspirin, with more than 65 molecular receptor targets and over 80 mechanisms of action.

Since CBD is one of the main components of marijuana (along with THC and aromatic compounds called terpenes), these pain-relieving effects are even stronger if you’re using marijuana rather than CBD alone. In fact, the combination factor is so important to how marijuana works that it has an official name: the “marijuana entourage effect.”

That means marijuana could be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes. For migraine sufferers, marijuana could be an effective acute or preventive treatment. It could also relieve more symptoms than just head pain.

Like migraine-associated nausea?

Yes, that could be true. THC is much better at relieving nausea than CBD, which makes marijuana a better choice for treating this symptom. In fact, the FDA has approved two synthetic THC medications for the treatment of nausea.

Are there any specific marijuana strains that are best for migraine?

Other than anecdotal reports, this is currently unknown. Marijuana strains are mostly defined by their ratios of THC and CBD, and we need more studies to determine which ratio is best for migraine.

However, I suspect the answer will vary from patient to patient. It’s best to think of marijuana as a broad class of medication, like triptans. Within this medication class, there are many types of cultivars or chemovars (the scientific terms for strains). Just like a medication, there will be some variation in benefits and side effects between patients, and what’s best for you may not be best for someone else.

I’ve heard marijuana and CBD can help with stress and anxiety. Is that true?

Some patients have reported this, and a few smaller studies have suggested that marijuana and CBD could be beneficial for anxiety and PTSD. However, large scientific studies are needed to prove it for both.

What are the side effects of marijuana? What about CBD?

Marijuana side effects vary widely based on the strain, but can include altered perception of time, anxiety, dizziness, dry mouth, heightened sensory awareness, hunger, paranoia, racing heart beat, sedation, and short-term memory impairment. This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s used it recreationally.

Pure CBD, without any traces of THC or other cannabinoids, doesn’t have many side effects. That’s because most of the side effects of marijuana come from THC.

Can CBD or marijuana be dangerous if used too frequently?

Higher doses of CBD can affect the liver enzyme system, which is what breaks down medications. So CBD could potentially cause other medication levels to increase or decrease in the blood, depending on the medication type. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor before trying CBD.

As for marijuana, it can affect blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to strokes or heart attacks in rare cases. Excessive marijuana use can also severely impact a person’s professional and personal life.

Is it possible to get addicted to CBD or marijuana?

There’s no addiction potential with pure CBD, but it is possible to get addicted to marijuana, particularly high THC strains. Estimated addiction rates of marijuana are around 9%, much lower than many other substances, such as tobacco (32%) and alcohol (15%).

Should certain people avoid CBD or marijuana entirely?

Good question. People with liver disease should not use CBD because it can affect liver function. Don’t use marijuana or CBD if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Teenagers shouldn’t use marijuana since this is a time when the brain is pruning, rewiring, and organizing itself. People with cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases and people who are predisposed to schizophrenia or other mental health conditions also shouldn’t use it.

Would you ever recommend using marijuana or CBD for migraine?

In the right patients, these therapies could have a potential role, especially for those who haven’t responded to more conventional treatments. Given the minimal side effects of CBD, I think it could certainly be a relatively safe thing to try. However, marijuana use would require a more in-depth conversation with a doctor about the potential risks, as well as research into any legal restrictions.

If you decide to try CBD, choose a full spectrum or “whole plant” product—they’re most likely to provide the “entourage effect.” And make sure it’s been tested for content and quality by an independent laboratory. In 2017, researchers studied 84 CBD products and found that 70% were inaccurately labeled and 21.4% had levels of THC that were above legal limits.

The bottom line here is that even though there are a ton of CBD and medical marijuana products out there, there’s very little credible information about their safety and efficacy. While it’s possible that these treatments could relieve pain, nausea, and other migraine symptoms, you’ll need to know the laws where you live and have a thorough conversation with your doctor before getting started.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

CBD Oil for Migraines – February 2022

People with migraines are willing to try nearly any type of medication for relief, which may explain the growing interest in CBD for migraines.

Migraines may cause excruciating and throbbing pain, or a pulsing sensation, often on one side of the head. It usually comes with vomiting, nausea, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound (5 ) .

Migraine attacks may persist from a few hours to several days. The pain may be so severe that it may interfere with an individual’s daily routines.

With the purported benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) to humans and animals, many people with migraine are curious whether or not the compound may help with their medical condition.

CBD’s potential therapeutic benefits, including as an anti-inflammatory , antiemetic (prevents vomiting), and antipsychotic (calms nerves) agent, were highlighted in a study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2018 (6 ) .

At the same time, as a neuroprotective substance, CBD was shown to help protect nerve cells against damage, regression, or impairment of function. Headaches are considered neurologic conditions.

All of these properties may be beneficial for individuals experiencing migraine symptoms, like pain and light and sound sensitivity.

The authors also reported that CBD is safe, as it does not affect heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Neither does CBD negatively impact psychomotor and psychological functions.

Benefits of CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is present in cannabis trichomes of cannabis plants . CBD is non-psychoactive and is usually derived from the hemp variety of cannabis .

While CBD is usually sourced from the cannabis plant ‘s indica strain, small traces of CBD may also be discovered in the Cannabis sativa strain.

Most CBD brands offer CBD in the form of CBD oil , which is CBD-infused tincture . Some companies use hempseed oil, while some use medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil as their tincture carrier oils.

Aside from CBD oils , CBD may also be taken in the forms of topicals , gummies, teas , vape juices, or capsules.

CBD is sold as a CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD, or full-spectrum CBD.

A CBD isolate has no other cannabinoids except CBD. It is created by removing all non-CBD compounds from a hemp plant, including THC.

Meanwhile, broad-spectrum CBD has all cannabinoids from raw hemp, except THC. Products with broad-spectrum CBD have no detectable traces of THC.

CBD isolates and broad-spectrum CBD products are recommended for users who want to use CBD while keeping their bodies THC-free.

Lastly, full-spectrum CBD or whole plant CBD products have high concentrations of CBD, other cannabinoids, and terpenes. Full-spectrum CBD also contains low levels of THC.

Some CBD users opt for full-spectrum CBD oils because of the product’s “entourage effect,” which maximizes the therapeutic effects of CBD.

CBD has gained popularity over the recent years because of its potential health benefits. Below are some of the published research about how CBD might help treat migraines:

CBD for Migraine-Associated Pain Relief

The National Headache Foundation approximates that nearly 12% of the population experience migraine headaches (7 ) .

Migraine headache pain is a result of signals interacting among blood vessels, the brain, and surrounding nerves.

During a headache, certain nerves of blood vessels are activated, and they send pain signals to the brain.

There is a migraine pain center, also called a generator, in the midbrain area. Migraines begin when overactive nerve cells send impulses to blood vessels, causing the release of prostaglandins and serotonin .

Prostaglandins are lipids that control processes such as inflammation and blood flow. Serotonin is a chemical that the body produces for nerve cells and the brain to function.

As these substances are released, the blood vessels in the vicinity of the nerve endings swell, resulting in pain (8 ) .

CBD’s status as a potent analgesic or pain reliever is among the strongest points in favor of this type of use.

With nausea and vomiting that many people experience during migraines, CBD’s antiemetic properties, which prevent nausea and vomiting, are also beneficial.

In an article published by the American Migraine Foundation, Dr. Stephen Silberstein outlined what patients should know about CBD oil as a treatment for migraines (9 ) .

According to Dr. Silberstein, the director of the Headache Center at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, the United States, CBD may be a viable topical option for individuals with muscle and joint pain linked to migraines (10 ) .

He says it is perfectly reasonable for those with neck pain or soreness to use CBD oil . He added that the compound might even prevent nausea and vomiting.

Several studies that demonstrate CBD’s antiemetic qualities seem to support Dr. Silberstein’s advice.

A study in the British Journal of Pharmacology revealed the anti-vomiting effects of cannabinoids in response to a toxic challenge.

Research indicated that cannabinoids , including CBD, may be useful for treating both nausea and vomiting produced by chemotherapy or other treatments (11 ) .

In a review in the European Journal of Pharmacology, the potential of cannabinoids to control nausea and vomiting from several causes was established (12 ) .

CBD for Reduced Inflammation Associated With Migraines

A study published in Neurology in 2005 looked into a migraine as an inflammatory disorder (13 ) .

The authors said that although pain and inflammation usually go hand in hand, migraine has not classically been considered an inflammatory disease. The reason could be because it is not associated with heat, redness, and swelling.

However, a study published in Physiological Reviews in 2017 showed that the pain of migraine headaches might be at least partially caused by intense sensory nerve stimulation.

This stimulation is the result of the release of inflammatory agents during a migraine attack (14 ) .

If this is the case, the properties of CBD may help counter inflammation, helping to relieve that pain.

One study showed how CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain (15 ) .

CBD’s potent anti-inflammatory characteristics were also shown in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (16 ) .

Risks of CBD

In a review of studies published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2017, researchers saw a useful and practical role for medical cannabis in treating migraine (17 ) . However, there are not enough studies on using CBD oil specifically yet.

The multifaceted nature of migraine makes it challenging to define the exact criteria for clinical assessment. Also, migraine patients vary in their response to existing modes of treatment (18 ) .

Other risks to consider are the possible side effects of CBD use. CBD’s potential side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness , diarrhea, fatigue, and reduced appetite (19 ) .

CBD interacts with other drugs, which may alter how the body metabolizes certain medications, as a 2017 research noted (20 ) .

A 2017 review revealed labeling inaccuracies in some CBD products . Some products had less CBD than stated on the label, while others had more (21 ) .

Cannabis products and CBD do not have approval from the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) for migraine relief or cure. There is no regulation over the potency of CBD oil before marketing and sale in the United States for most uses.

Despite the health benefits of CBD, it is essential to note that using it may entail some risks, primarily since the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) has not regulated the use of CBD.

The following are some of the potential risks of CBD use according to the FDA (22 ) :

  • Lack of appetite
  • Interactions with other medications
  • Interactions with other drugs and alcohol
  • Liver injury
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Mood changes

The FDA also warned that several unknown factors make using CBD potentially harmful. Bellow are some unanswered questions on CBD (23 ) :

  • How much CBD is required to trigger the known risks associated with it?
  • What are the effects of long-term use of CBD?
  • Do different routes of administration alter the effect of CBD?
  • How does CBD affect developing brain functions in children?
  • How does CBD affect developing fetuses or newborns?
  • How does CBD interact with other medicinal plants?
  • Is CBD harmful to the male reproductive system?

According to the FDA , more research may prove CBD’s effectiveness in treating various medical conditions and other illnesses. However, the FDA still advises people not to depend on CBD as an alternative to proper medical care.

How CBD Works

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for regulating several body functions, including pain sensation, anxiety, sleep, mood, appetite, immune response, metabolism, and memory.

CB1 and CB2 are the two primary types of receptors found in different parts of the body. These receptors each have specialized roles in the ECS.

Various studies have reported that natural and synthetic cannabinoids are useful in the attenuation of acute and chronic pain , including neuropathic (nerve) pain (24 ) .

Disruptions in the supply or functionality of endocannabinoids have been linked to several mental state disturbances and, particularly, to migraine (25 ) .

Studies have shown that cannabinoid receptors are distributed in many critical sites of pain pathways in the central (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS).

The abundance of CB1 receptors in the brain makes them an attractive target for the treatment of migraines via the blocking of pain pathways (26 ) .

Some studies suggest the less-explored CB2 receptors possess anti-inflammatory potential (27 ) . These receptors represent a promising new way to counteract migraine (28 ) .

CBD provides its benefits via interactions with the endocannabinoid system . This system’s receptors bind to the cannabinoids in CBD, affecting their functionality.

As the ECS controls pain, the immune system , mood regulation, muscle spasms, and anxiety, among other things, consuming CBD oil may help with all of these functions. In the case of migraines, it is the ability to assist with pain that becomes helpful.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain examined, using an animal model, the effects of anandamide in migraine (29 ) .

Anandamide is a cannabinoid naturally produced by the body, which interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors .

The study confirmed that a dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system might contribute to the development of migraine attacks . Also, they indicated that the regulation of cannabinoid receptors might be useful for treating migraine pain .

The authors of a 2017 study, meanwhile, believe that there is evidence that patients with migraine have deficient levels of the anandamide . It is not known, however, if this is a localized or generalized phenomenon (30 ) .

What Research Says About CBD and THC

Cannabidiol (CBD)

According to several pharmacotherapy studies, CBD has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), analgesic (pain-relieving), neuroprotective (protects nerve cell functions), hypoxia-ischemia (proper blood flow to organs), anti-inflammatory , anti-asthmatic, antipsychotic, and antitumor properties (31 ) .

However, there are also studies that recorded instances when CBD failed to improve symptoms of experimentally-induced anxiety and chronic pain in kidney transplant (32 ) .

Medical researchers also studied the potential of CBD to cure drug addiction. A systematic review showed that some preclinical studies suggest that CBD might help individuals with cocaine, opioid , and psychostimulant addiction (33 ) .

Preliminary data showed that CBD might help treat tobacco and cannabis addiction in humans (34 ) .

In a World Health Organization (WHO) report published in November 2017, WHO discussed CBD’s analgesic properties in patients suffering from treatment-resistant neuropathic pain (35 ) .

The report also noted that pre-review human studies showed that CBD possessed neuroprotective properties useful in patients with inflammatory and Alzheimer’s diseases. WHO also discussed CBD’s potential to reduce social anxiety in patients (36 ) .

According to the WHO, the medical use of CBD is most advanced in epilepsy treatment. The FDA approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex to treat seizures associated with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (37 ) .

Meanwhile, a 2014 study noted that cannabinoids might help block peripheral, gastrointestinal, and spinal mechanisms that may cause muscle spasms, headache, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome (38 ) .

A 2017 study also noted that CBD might help patients with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorders (39 ) .

Five-month long research indicated that CBD oil might reduce insomnia and anxiety secondary to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Colorado -based research discussed that CBD might reduce scores on anxiety and sleep scales (40 ) .

Meanwhile, a study about Sativex, a drug containing 15mg of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ), showed that the medicine might help patients suffering from various pain conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, intractable cancer pain, and peripheral neuropathic pain (41 ) .

Another study suggested that CBD may also help prevent movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. The study discussed CBD’s potential to alleviate primary and secondary dystonic movements effectively (42 ) .

Researchers also found that CBD has antidepressant properties. In a recent study, researchers discovered that CBD might play a role in creating new therapeutic strategies in mental illnesses, including anxiety and schizophrenia (43 ) .

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ) is the main psychoactive compound of marijuana plants.

Over the years, medical researchers have conducted studies about the medicinal properties of the psychoactive cannabinoid in humans.

A 2014 study noted that THC might help alleviate pain. The study also suggested that medical marijuana may help patients with anxiety, insomnia, nausea, depression, and lack of appetite (44 ) .

Subject patients noted that cannabis helped them cut down or discontinue prescription medications for pain, insomnia, and anxiety (45 ) .

Another cannabis science study discussed the adverse side effects of taking THC . According to the 2019 study, adverse side effects of THC use include psychosis, urinary tract infection (UTI), dysphoria (unease), drowsiness , dry mouth, dizziness, and nausea (46 ) .

The side effects were observed in patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), movement disorders, and rheumatic disease (47 ) .

Hemp vs. Marijuana

Some people incorrectly refer to the cannabis plant in general as marijuana, which may cause confusion in some CBD customers. This belief is incorrect because various products may be extracted from cannabis ; not all of them are marijuana.

Marijuana pertains to the flowers of female cannabis plants that are derived from strains high in cannabinoids , especially THC .

Meanwhile, hemp plants are fibrous, seed-bearing plants with high amounts of CBD. Hemp plants are also cultivated for their copious seeds and fibers.

Marijuana and hemp plants appear to be very similar in nature. However, the two plants have significant differences.

Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis derivatives. Most cannabinoids from hemp and marijuana are extracted from cannabis flowers.

However, unlike hemp, marijuana is under the Schedule I drugs of the Controlled Substance Act because of its high potential for abuse. The high potential for abuse may be attributed to marijuana’s psychoactive properties.

Meanwhile, hemp has been removed from the list of controlled substances as long as they have less than 0.3% THC content.

CBD Dosage and Administration Routes

There are still no officially recommended CBD doses for any specific medical conditions. Determining the appropriate amount of CBD to take for migraines is going to be a trial and error process.

The CBD dose depends on age, body chemistry, frequency of migraine attacks , and severity of migraine symptoms.

It is recommended to follow the instructions on the product label that come with a particular CBD oil .

CBD manufacturers are likely to have guidelines for dosages found on the product itself, the accompanying paperwork, or their website.

Still, experts agree that one should start with a low dosage of CBD or even err on the side of underdosing. Then, gradually increase the dosage as needed until the desired results are achieved.

A topical CBD cream, transdermal patch, or massage oil is ideal when dealing with inflammation or pain in a specific area of the body.

CBD topicals may target localized clusters of cannabinoid receptors rather than interacting with the entire ECS. If properly formulated, they work instantly after skin contact, and relief may be felt in about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, CBD oil capsules and edibles, such as gummies, brownies, and lozenges, are a straightforward and convenient way to take CBD oil , especially for beginners.

CBD in these forms comes in pre-dosed versions, which may easily be consumed at one’s convenience.

However, the downside is that these forms do not allow for as much flexibility with doses as one cannot easily cut a gummy or capsule in half.

Meanwhile, CBD oil tinctures or drops are a practical option for those who seek fast results and maximum dosage control after a migraine attack .

A syringe, dropper, or easily-calculated number of drops is used for consistent and accurate dosing .

Sublingual application of CBD tincture allows for results to be experienced within 30 to 60 minutes after its use. The effects are felt for four to six hours.

Vaping CBD is one of the fastest strategies for getting the compound into the body. With this method, CBD enters the bloodstream through the lungs without going through the digestive system.

However, the effects of vaping last only for 30 minutes to one or two hours. Also, it is difficult to determine precisely how much CBD is in each draw.

A 2018 study published in Molecules noted that the primary limitations of inhaling are the variability in individual inhalation techniques and respiratory tract irritation during inhalation (48 ) .

Although labels for CBD oil vape products usually indicate the amount per inhale, the amount may vary in individuals. Thus, getting the right dose requires a bit of experimentation at first.

Vaping may not be for everyone. There might be problems that may arise from vaping , including chemical irritation or allergic reactions to various substances in the inhaled vapors (49 ) .

Individuals contemplating vaping CBD for the first time must proceed with caution and first consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use.

Alternative Treatments for Migraines

There is currently no cure for migraines, although several treatments are available to help ease the symptoms.

However, some people who have migraines find that over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers , such as paracetamol, aspirin, and ibuprofen, may reduce their symptoms.

In some cases, triptans , which are specific painkillers for migraines, or anti-sickness medicines, may be prescribed by a general practitioner.

Like most pharmaceuticals, however, these medicines cause side effects . Thus, people are turning to natural and holistic treatments for relief.

Complementary and integrative treatment options may be beneficial for migraine sufferers , says Dr. Deena Kuruvilla, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Yale School of Medicine (50 ) .

Unfortunately, there is currently not enough scientific evidence for doctors to recommend them as a primary form of treatment.

Still, research shows that up to 80% of patients living with chronic migraine and headache disorders tried alternative treatments (51 ) .

Many turn to holistic therapy because mainstream treatments have not been effective, have adverse effects, or have not yet been tried.

Alternative migraine treatments that have shown some proven efficacy include meditation and mindfulness training, essential oils and nutraceuticals (food with health benefits), or vitamins and minerals thought to have medicinal advantages.

Holistic treatments are to be used in combination with mainstream therapies, not serve as an individual remedy to migraine, Dr. Kuruvilla says. There is no substitute for conventional medicine (52 ) .

Meanwhile, the nutritional value of CBD may be an excellent alternative treatment for migraine symptoms.

Hemp ( Cannabis sativa L. ), cultivated for making health products, like CBD oil , contains a variety of essential nutrients. The whole plant, from flower to seeds, is useful.

Many CBD oil products contain hemp seed oil as a carrier oil. Hemp seeds contain a high concentration of soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 (53 ) .

Full-spectrum CBD contains a complete range of cannabinoids , terpenes , flavonoids, and other compounds naturally present in cannabis . These include other compounds and minerals, like fatty acids and fiber.

Terpenes are natural compounds in cannabis that give it distinctive aromas and flavors. Flavonoids give plants their vivid colors.

Combining all these compounds creates a synergy known as the “entourage effect,” where all of the constituents working together are more efficient than their isolated elements (54 ) .

CBD may be useful during mediation as well because of its calming effects. CBD has great psychiatric potential, including uses as an anxiolytic-like and an antidepressant -like compound, as a 2014 study published in CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets suggested (55 ) .

In one study in Neuropharmacology, results showed that CBD might induce rapid-acting antidepressant -like effects and enhance neurotransmission (56 ) . Neurotransmission is the process by which nerve cells communicate.

Coconut oil is another potential alternative treatment for migraine symptoms, specifically for fighting inflammation.

According to an article in PainPathways, the official magazine of the World Institute of Pain (WIP), coconut oil has the potential ability to lessen inflammation in joints and muscles (57 ) .

A study published in Pharmaceutical Biology in 2010 showed that virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties (58 ) .

Coconut oil’s high levels of lauric acid help reduce inflammation, which directly impacts pain.

Many CBD oil manufacturers take advantage of coconut oil’s benefits by using medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil as a carrier oil in their tinctures . MCTs are fatty acids that are naturally present in coconut oil.

With its pain-relieving characteristics, CBD oil with MCT oil may be an excellent natural alternative for dealing with pain caused by inflammation or swelling.

Not to be overlooked as a potential alternative treatment for migraines is ginger. In a randomized controlled trial published in Phytotherapy Research in 2013, the effectiveness of ginger powder in the treatment of frequent migraine attacks was statistically comparable to that of sumatriptan (59 ) .

Sumatriptan is a prescription drug commonly used to treat acute attacks of cluster headaches (60 ) .

Cluster headaches , a type of migraine, are so severe that they are sometimes referred to as suicide headaches (61 ) .

It is worth noting, however, that the 2013 study found that ginger also posed a better side effect profile than sumatriptan. Compared to that of sumatriptan, the clinical adverse effects of ginger powder were less (62 ) .

Like ginger, curcumin has also been found to be useful for migraine headaches . Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, is known to possess potent anti-inflammatory characteristics (63 ) .

A 2017 study in BioMed Research International used rat models to show that pretreatment with curcumin might be useful in reducing nociception, or the ability to feel pain (64 ) .

CBD consumers may use the benefits of ginger and curcumin for migraines. Many CBD oils and tinctures contain ginger and curcumin to provide pain relief for those with migraine headaches .

CBD Legality and Accessibility

In the US, it is legal at the federal level to purchase hemp-derived CBD after former President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law. The law marked the legalization of hemp and removed hemp from the list of Schedule I controlled substances (65 ) .

However, hemp or other hemp-derived products may only be considered legal if they have a THC content of less than 0.3% (66 ) .

It is still recommended to research CBD laws before buying CBD products since state laws have varying levels of restrictions. Buying CBD products is legal in some US states, except in Hawaii and South Dakota (67 ) .

Is CBD Safe?

Although several CBD users deem CBD as safe and effective, CBD still has potential side effects . Side effects of CBD include tiredness, reduced appetite, dry mouth, diarrhea, and sleepiness (68 ) .

The FDA also warns CBD users that CBD products may interact with other drugs in the human body.

It is recommended that first-time users of CBD products should consult their physicians before taking CBD. Consulting a medical professional is crucial, especially if CBD users are also taking medications for serious medical conditions.

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

First discovered in 1988, the ECS is a biological system made up of lipid-based neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids.

According to a 2013 research, cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system might be helpful in treating chemotherapy’s adverse effects. The receptors also played an essential role in stimulating appetite in weakened patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (69 ) .


Studies have shown that CBD might help with migraine symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, pain, and inflammation (70 ) .

CBD has been well-received by the World Health Organization (WHO) that said, CBD “is generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile (71 ) .”

CBD is also non-addictive, says Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in an article in 2015. This quality makes CBD safe for daily intake (72 ) .

There are several different subtypes of migraines, including migraines with aura (called complicated migraines) and some without (common migraines) (73 ) .

An aura is a series of sensory and visual changes. It ranges from seeing black dots and zig zags to tingling numbness on one side of the body. The experience may also be characterized by an inability to speak clearly.

The complexity of migraine makes it challenging to treat with any given medications. Adding to the challenge are the adverse side effects of pharmaceuticals.

These are only some of the reasons why people turn to holistic treatments, including CBD, for migraine pain relief .

Dr. Silberstein spoke with the American Headache Society, a professional society for healthcare professionals specializing in headache and migraine treatments, at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco (74 ) .

According to Dr. Silberstein, theoretically, CBD should not interact with migraine medications at all. It works on an entirely different mechanism. He also believes that CBD may even prevent nausea and vomiting.

Like most over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and supplements, CBD oil may be purchased without a medical prescription in locations where they are legally available.

The 2018 Farm Bill has made CBD products derived from hemp legal. However, individual states in the United States have specific state laws (75 ) .

Although studies have shown that CBD might help with most symptoms linked to migraines, it is not a cure-all.

To date, the healthcare industry still has no scientific evidence on CBD as an effective treatment for migraines, primarily because it has not been formally studied.

Hopefully, more longitudinal research may help experts understand precisely how CBD works alone or with other cannabinoids to address migraines and other specific medical conditions.

Until CBD’s impact on migraine and its symptoms is fully understood, people with migraines should proceed with caution should they decide to use CBD as a supplementary therapy.

A consultation with a doctor experienced in cannabis use is ideal before deciding to try CBD oil for migraines .