Cannabidiol oil comes from the marijuana plant, but it contains only trace amounts, if any, of the compound that produces a high. While cannabidiol oil has no psychoactive effects, it may relieve pain, and it shows some promise as a treatment for migraines.
More research is needed to determine whether cannabidiol (CBD) oil is safe and effective. Also, because products derived from the marijuana, or cannabis, plant tend to be unregulated, it is difficult to ensure the quality and quantity of ingredients.
Still, for people who have yet to find an effective migraine treatment, CBD oil may be worth considering. Speak with a doctor before obtaining it. Also, ensure that it is legal to use and purchased from a reputable source, to ensure safety.
Why would CBD oil work for migraines?
Cbd oil is popular for its pain-relieving benefits.
The cause of migraines remains unclear. Some people with migraines may have imbalanced levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Low levels of serotonin may cause blood vessels to dilate, triggering a migraine in people prone to them.
Authors of a preclinical study published in Addiction Biology speculated that cannabis compounds may raise serotonin levels in some people. If this effect is achieved, cannabinoids may be used to prevent migraines by boosting serotonin levels.
However, cannabis has been shown to lower serotonin levels in some people, especially when too much is used. More studies are needed.
What does the research say?
CBD oil may be an option for pain relief. Authors of a study from 2012 suggest that CBD oil can help to relieve some types of chronic pain. However, the study did not relate specifically to headaches or migraines.
Results of a 2016 study indicate that medical marijuana may reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. More research is needed to determine what dosage and formulation are most effective.
Authors of a 2009 study found evidence to suggest that cannabis compounds may treat chronic pain in people who have been taking opioids for long periods.
Cannabis products are not legal in all U.S. states.
More than half of the United States have legalized the medical use of some cannabis products.
Certain states specifically allow for CBD oil usage if the product contains little tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In some cases, CBD oil is legal, even when medical marijuana is not.
Laws vary widely. Visit the state’s official website to find reliable information.
Or, talk to a doctor about CBD and whether it can be safely and legally used.
How is CBD oil used?
CBD can be used in several ways. It may be:
- an ingredient in products that can be consumed
- in capsule form
- inhaled or vaped
- applied to the skin topically
- in drops or sprays used in the mouth
Because no studies involving humans have investigated the effects of CBD oil on migraines, there is no standard dosage or method.
However, a doctor in an area where CBD oil is legal may be able to recommend a safe, low dosage to start with.
One of the biggest risks concerns the lack of regulation. Because the FDA has not approved cannabis for medical use, the potency of CBD oil is not controlled before marketing and sale in the U.S.
A 2017 research letter published in The Journal of the American Medical Association noted that CBD products were incorrectly labeled. Some contained more CBD than stated, others contained less, and some even contained significant amounts of THC.
Authors of a 2014 review of studies concerning CBD raised concerns about the lack of regulation, pointing out that consumers cannot be sure what they are taking when CBD products “are not subject to regulations governing labeling, purity, and reliability.”
Other treatments for migraines
Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be recommended for treating migraines.
A doctor is likely to recommend proven treatments before CBD oil.
No treatment works for everyone, but a number of medications have been shown to reduce the frequency of migraines and diminish the intensity once they start.
Approved migraine treatments include:
- over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as acetaminophen
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- combined medicines that contain a pain reliever and caffeine
- prescription medications that help to block migraine pain, such as triptans and ergots
- drugs that help to prevent migraines, including beta-blockers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications
- Botox treatment
Many people try a few treatments before finding one that works. Working closely with a doctor, and keeping track of the frequency and intensity of migraines can help a person to discover the best treatment.
Takeaway and when to see a doctor
Anyone who experiences migraines should speak with a doctor. Many prescription and over-the-counter treatments can prevent migraines from recurring as often or diminish their severity.
Consult a doctor before trying CBD oil or any natural supplements or therapies. Some herbal medications, including cannabis and CBD oil, can have dangerous interactions with other medicines.
Source: Article by Jennifer Berry
Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT