Can CBD Help With Headaches And Migraines?
Stop the suffering. Here’s what you need to know next time your head hurts.
Do you suffer from migraines? These headaches are extremely debilitating, and you have likely tried many remedies; anything to alleviate the pain. Migraines are neurologically-based headaches accompanied by light and sound sensitivity as well as nausea and vomiting. Additionally, migraine sufferers must often confine themselves to a dark room free of all noise, sometimes for several days, in order for the headache to alleviate. As an alternative, sleeping for an extended period of time often relieves a migraine headache.
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If you have suffered for some time from migraines, the medications prescribed to you might work, but the negative side effects may be almost as bad as the migraine. Sadly, for many patients, prescribed medications don’t work. As a result, many migraine sufferers are looking for an effective alternative that will alleviate these headaches without negative side effects, and CBD is showing great promise as a migraine treatment.
What we know
Some doctors suspect that migraines are caused by a deficiency in one of the human body’s endocannabinoids. Humans recognize CBD as “one of its own” and the plant cannabinoid binds to the body’s endocannabinoid receptor. This is why researchers think CBD may be very effective for migraines. In fact, some research indicates that CBD works in the same manner as the triptan or opiate medications, activating the same pathways in the brain. CBD may be just as effective for some people as prescription triptans or opiates.
The first scientific study on CBD’s effectiveness against migraines was published decades ago in 1985. In that study, researchers showed that a THC/CBD combination inhibited the release of the chemical serotonin that contributes to migraine symptoms. More recent studies shed more light on CBD’s potential effectiveness against headaches and migraines. A study in the European Journal of Neurology showed that CBD was more effective than the standard prescription migraine medications, and best of all, CBD had fewer side effects.
In a 2016 study of 127 patients who suffered from migraines and severe cluster headaches, patients were given a high CBD/low THC dose and experienced 55 percent less pain. The other patient group took a common antidepressant called amitriptyline, which doctors also commonly prescribe for migraines. Patients who took CBD had fewer headaches.
Different types of CBD
There are many factors to consider when trying to determine the form of CBD that will work best for you. First and foremost, you want to consider what you’re using CBD for, and always make sure you get a quality product.
Topical CBD treatments have been shown to be very effective for migraines. These creams, oils, and gels are easy to apply and fast-acting. If you are taking migraine medications, CBD theoretically should not interact with them at all since it works via an entirely different mechanism when compared to common migraine prescription and over the counter medications. However, always consult your physician before combining CBD with any medication you are taking.
There have been no human studies to date regarding the best dosing method for migraine. In general, there are five forms of CBD.
CBD comes in creams, oils, salves, and balms, to name just a few forms. Topicals are frequently used to relieve joint pain and sore muscles. There are many cannabinoid receptors in the skin, so this form of CBD is generally fast-acting.
Tinctures are extracted using several techniques including the CO2 method and the ethanol method. All of the extraction techniques are designed to preserve as many of the cannabinoids as possible. Tinctures are generally taken orally, but can also be mixed into food or drink. The fastest acting tinctures are those taken sublingually (under the tongue). When taken in this fashion, the effects kick in after 15 to 45 minutes.
Edibles are also very popular because they taste great, are easy to use, and are also discrete. CBD is usually infused into a baked good or smoothie to transform it into an edible. Many patients find it is easier to dose CBD with an edible. Since edibles, in general, have a higher concentration of CBD, this is a great way to take higher CBD doses. If the edible has a sufficient quantity of another oil or fat, such as coconut oil, that formulation generally increases CBD’s bioavailability.
Oral CBD in the form of drops, sprays, and capsules represent another ingestion method. They’re easy to use. Capsules are quickly digested, and drops or sprays of CBD under the tongue are very fast-acting. Many oils and oral sprays are flavored to mask the earthiness of natural CBD.
Vaping is certainly another way to ingest CBD. While inhalation has been deemed a very effective method, there have been many recent serious lung health hazards attributed to vaping and vaping additives, so caution is warranted.
How to choose
Unfortunately, the market today is flooded with CBD products. While many are excellent formulations from very reputable vendors, many products are of questionable quality. Here are some tips for how consumers can locate truth within the product packaging to ensure you choose a quality product:
- Make sure the amount of CBD in the bottle (in mg) is clearly displayed on the package or bottle
- Make sure the total volume of CBD oil is clearly printed on the bottle
- Determine whether the CBD is cannabis or hemp-derived. Also determine where the hemp is grown, and whether it is grown by a state-regulated supplier.
- Make sure to determine whether the hemp is organic or non-organic.
- Determine the reputation of the company and ensure the cleanliness of the product.
- The extraction method used to separate the CBD from the hemp plant should be plainly labeled; common extraction methods are ethanol, butane, and CO2. The CO2 extraction method is generally regarded as the “cleanest” method and the one that preserves the greatest quantity of cannabinoids.
- Third-party independent lab test results should always be available on the company’s website
While more human research is definitely needed, CBD is receiving lots of clinical attention for many ailments, including migraines. Without CBD, patients must rely on conventional migraine medications, which have some pretty awful side effects. Doctors have been taught a methodology to apply when prescribing migraine meds. First, they try an over the counter drug like Excedrin Migraine, a mixture of aspirin and acetaminophen along with a small dose of caffeine. These drugs are relatively safe if not taken too often, but can cause stomach ulcers or kidney damage if taken more frequently.
However, most people who suffer from severe migraines need a much stronger class of drugs known as triptans (Imitrex and Treximet are examples). These drugs increase the levels of certain brain chemicals and constrict the brain’s blood vessels. They are known to cause dizziness, drowsiness, chest tightness, or even nausea.
Some doctors prescribe mild opioids like Oxycontin for migraines, but with opioid deaths quadrupled in the last two decades, this is certainly not a viable long-term option. Finally, doctors might prescribe a class of drugs called ergotamines (Ergomar, Migranal) which can cause debilitating complications like stroke and heart attack. Some of these pharmaceuticals have been linked to birth defects in pregnant women.
CBD is fully natural, plant-derived, and non-hallucinogenic. When more migraine research has been performed, CBD may prove to be just as effective as these other medications.
Can CBD Oil Cause Headaches?
Headaches are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , around half the world’s adult population suffers from headaches at least once a year.
A disorder that can be triggered by a simple alcohol hangover, illness, poor diet, and lack of sufficient fluids, addiction or even genetics is often a lifelong enemy of human existence.
This usually underestimated and under-treated ailment is usually just treated by popping a pill, which does more harm than good to the human body.
Every day, we hear of new studies where one composition or brand of painkiller is declared harmful for human consumption. But by then, a lot many people have already been affected by its side effects.
That is why CBD has come to be known to many people as an alternative remedy for headaches and other kinds of pain-related physiological issues.
Why People Opt For Alternative to Conventional Medication
People often look for alternative remedies, especially herbal ones, for curing headaches, such as herbal balms, etc. It has been found that herbal treatments have far less adverse side effects compared to pharmaceutical medications.
Cannabidiol, or CBD in short, is gaining much popularity among people with headaches, especially migraine. Apart from the hundreds of anecdotal evidence that are found all over the internet, quite a few scientific studies have found a clear indication of CBD being a potent agent to manage different kinds of pain and inflammation , including headaches and migraine.
But no one said herbal medicines don’t have any side effects. Everything you use or consume to treat any physical or mental health problems has side effects.
However, CBD’s side effects have, fortunately, been found to be rarer and milder when compared to prescription drugs that include opioids.
Complains of headaches after CBD use?
First-timers are usually worried about CBD’s side effects. Some have even felt their headaches become more severe after taking CBD, while others experienced headaches after they took CBD to treat some other disorder, like back pain , etc.
Does it mean that CBD can cause headaches? Isn’t it supposed to help in getting rid of headaches?
Yes, it does. CBD doesn’t really cause a headache.
Then, what does CBD REALLY do to your body, and why do some people complain of headaches after using CBD ?
The Healing Potential of Cannabidiol
CBD oil is increasingly being used by people to treat a varied range of diseases and disorders. Cannabinoids have been used by medicine men of different countries through ages to treat different kinds of illnesses.
But now, scientists too have confirmed, through their findings that this cannabinoid, a cannabis extract, when used in the right way and dosage, can work wonders on the health of both humans and animals, alike.
Yes, they can be used on our pets too!
CBD has been claimed to treat many diseases and disorders, including:
■ Pain and inflammation (joint pain, arthritis, rheumatic pain, regular headaches, migraines, etc.)
■ Mental issues like anxiety and mental trauma (PTSD), phobias and even depression
Movement disorders, like:
■ Seizures associated with epilepsy,
1. Blood pressure irregularities and cardiovascular disease
2. Symptoms of cancer, especially breast cancer
3. Skin disorders (like acne and eczema that are accompanied by inflammation and itching)
Substantial scientific evidence has also been found to back these claims. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what really happens when CBD is in our system.
Complex Workings of the Endocannabinoid System & CBD
Not all cannabinoids found in cannabis plants work the same way in our body. CBD is different from THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in many ways.
But the main difference lies in the fact that THC has an intoxicating effect on both humans and animals, something that doesn’t happen in case of CBD consumption. Although both these cannabinoids have the same molecular composition, their atomic structure makes all the difference.
CBD – a completely non-psychoactive chemical compound – has a therapeutic effect on humans. Its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a recently discovered biological system  , scientists have relentlessly been researching on the effects of different cannabinoids (both endogenous and naturally available ones, like those found in cannabis plants).
While THC binds with the CB1 receptor, causing the much-hyped marijuana “high”, CBD binds with CB2 receptors of the ECS, resulting in relaxing your arteries, making the blood flow more freely, and generally lowering your blood pressure, besides reducing nausea and alleviating pain and inflammation.
What Do Studies on CBD Relating to Headaches Indicate?
Time of consumption and dosage have a lot to do with the undesirable side-effects that people may experience while using CBD. But, these effects don’t include headaches, including migraines.
At least no evidence suggesting CBD causes headaches have been found by scientists so far.
A 1986 study  , published in the International Journal of Neuroscience , which delved into the effects, and the eventual label evaluation of CBD, detected side effects, like hypotension, dry mouth, and lightheadedness, in their test subjects. However, they found no indication of resultant headaches.
The latest study on the safety and side effects of cannabidiol, published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal  in 2017, cataloged all the usual and apparent side effects that can definitively be linked with CBD oil use. They included tiredness, weight gain, and appetite changes, diarrhea, besides vascular relaxant properties. Again, they made no mention of headaches being a side effect.
While no evidence has been found to indicate CBD oil causes headaches, there is ample evidence to prove otherwise.
According to a 2018 review  , published in the Frontiers in Pharmacology , three Finnish researchers found clear evidence of endocannabinoids playing a role in regulating migraines. This implies phytocannabinoid (cannabinoids found in cannabis) can have the same effect on the ECS.
Similarly, a 2016 study  , published in the Pharmacotherapy journal by scientists Rhyne DN, Anderson SL, Gedde M, and Borgelt LM1, found proof that use of medical marijuana helps decrease the frequency of migraine attacks. However, they did add that more tests are needed into their cause and effects, the use of different strains, formulations, and doses of marijuana to better understand the connection between the cannabinoids ideally present in medical marijuana and migraine treatment.
In a 2017 study  , researchers Bryson C Lochte, Alexander Beletsky, Nebiyou K Samuel, and Igor Grant wrote in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research that no clear link was found between headaches and CBD, although they did add that CBD helps reduce the other symptoms associated with headache disorders, like anxiety, etc.
According to a study  featured at the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology that took place in Amsterdam on June 24, 2017, medical marijuana can prove to be a better alternative to prescription drugs. The test subjects, who suffered from chronic migraines, were given some specific combinations of THC & CBD. After 90 days of being treated with 200mg CBD a day, it was seen that the participants experienced a decrease in pain by up to 55%.
Then Why Do Some People Complain of Headaches?
Since the scientific research and clinical tests conducted so far have found no clear evidence of CBD causing headaches, a few possible reasons for individuals experiencing a headache after using CBD oil could be:
1. Wrongful association: We usually blame the last thing we ate or drank for an upset stomach, right? People often do the same with every other substance they use or consume, including CBD oil. If you’re taking CBD for a headache and you felt it get more severe, it is probably because it would have been the case anyway and that you haven’t given the cannabinoid enough time to heal you. It could also be that you haven’t taken a large enough dose to have any effect on your headache.
2. Low-quality CBD product: This is a major issue. Some CBD oil products have too many contaminants, countering the benefits of CBD. There is also the possibility that in your attempts to buy a cheaper product, you ended up with something that doesn’t even have any CBD as claimed by the company label. Yes, it happens. That’s why it is always wise to buy from only the reputed brands in the market.
3. Miscalculating the dosage & time: For first-time users, it is a mini-battle, trying to find the right dosage. Until you do, you can’t be sure, it will work for you. Unfortunately, given that CBD works differently on different people, it’s still about trial and error. Still, there are a few CBD calculators that can help you with a starting dosage – something from which you can gradually work your way up. Size of dosage for every individual user also has different effects. While too little can have energizing effects, taking too high a dose can put you to sleep. The same also applies for the time of the day you take it  . CBD’s effects usually depend on what your body is readying up for in the next hour or so. So, keep a record of your experiences for the very first few days of your use. This will help you set the right dosage and a CBD intake schedule that’s best suited for treating your headaches.
Note: The last two points are especially important because getting them wrong can not only do little to help you manage your symptoms, it can throw you a bit off balance.
Selecting The Right Dosage Is Essential
Many may have the urge to take a larger d0se in hopes of getting rid of pain or anxiety fast and for good. But, that’s never a good idea. Side effects like dryness of mouth, diarrhea, and lightheadedness are all caused due to taking too much within a short period of time.
It’s best to start with a smaller dose – an amount that would suffice for your age, body weight and disorder. This can be easily gauged with the help of a CBD calculator .
Starting from a lower dose helps the body get adjusted to CBD’s presence in your system. Although CBD does not build tolerance within the body (that is to say the body does not develop immunity to its beneficial effects), the body still needs time to cope with the new nerve-stimulating agent.
Mind you, this measurement can only be effective if you are using a good quality product that has been sourced from the places that follow due regulations.
Why Are Quality & Source such big issues with CBD oil?
Never purchase CBD oil from illegitimate vendors. There are plenty of those around, who do not have a license to grow cannabis or produce and sell CBD oil.
As a user, you need to make sure you are getting the good stuff. You need to learn and be aware of the proper use of CBD oil, the right sources, as well as the purity of the product you will be using.
To decide on the right product, consider these points:
■ Sourcing: A lot of products imported from overseas contain more contaminants like lead, mercury and several other chemicals, and only trace amounts of CBD. The presence of these contaminants is due to the soil of the area in which the cannabis plants are grown. So, before you decide to buy a brand of products, find out where the company grows its cannabis (hemp or marijuana).
■ Third-party lab testing: You should never buy a CBD product that does not announce its genuineness by means of test results done by a third-party laboratory. These tests ensure and stand proof of the product’s potency, quality, identify microbial and chemical contamination, and residual solvents. These tests also make the buyer aware of the presence or absence of terpenes (which are in fact good components of cannabis in their natural composition). These tests are necessary to ensure the product’s genuineness and safety.
■ Labeling: Check the label of the product. This tells you a lot about the brand, the manufacturer, its ingredients, and other important details. In the absence of proper regulations of CBD products, labeling may not always suffice. Still, it’s always good to know these details so that you can look them up on the public domain.
Using products that aren’t sourced from the right places, are of poor quality or aren’t properly labeled aren’t safe to use. Headaches can be caused by many things. Don’t add contamination in your CBD oil to your list of risk factors.
Trying something new can be quite scary. When it comes to matters of one’s health, one should never take risks.
Nevertheless, there is enough evidence to back claims of CBD’s therapeutic effects on our nervous system. Apart from anecdotal evidence, there are quite a few scientific proofs to support the idea that CBD is good for managing pain, including migraines.
It’s true that CBD, like any other treatment medication, has certain adverse effects, but none that are too severe, commonplace or lethal. There is no solid evidence to suggest CBD oil can cause headaches in any way either.
Any reports of headaches being experienced as a result of CBD oil use are simply invalidated and baseless.
That is, of course, if you are using a good CBD product. Poor quality or contaminated product may not only mar your chances of getting benefited from it, but it may also be detrimental to your health.
Also, make sure you take the right dosage at the best suitable time, depending on why you are using it in the first place. Once you’ve got the right dosage for you, you can rest assured that you won’t experience any headaches as a result of CBD use.