CBD Oil for Migraines (2020): Everything You Need to Know
Migraine has a way of wreaking havoc on your entire life. It ruins your social plans. It squashes your productivity at work. It interrupts your life and can make you miserable for an entire day or longer.
This is why migraineurs are willing to try just about anything for relief. Pharmaceutical drugs, dietary restrictions, retreating to dim lighting, relaxation techniques, and precision-tinted lenses are all on the table. And when something new comes along that shows promise as a treatment, you’re interested in that, too. Such may now be the case with CBD oil for migraine.
If you’ve ever wondered about CBD for migraine, we have news for you
Our team has been busy compiling the latest data on CBD for migraine and surveying and interviewing people with migraine disease who use CBD. Recently, Axon Relief published the findings of our survey, which included extensive research and feedback from study participants; the results will be discussed later in this article, which includes the most relevant and up-to-date information on if and how CBD relieves migraine pain.
If you’re concerned about the legalities of CBD, you should know that a U.S. Farm Bill passed in late 2018 means that hemp and hemp-derived products will be managed like other crops, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (rather than under the Justice Department). Now in effect, this law effectively makes CBD oil legal (with a few contingencies; more on this later).
With that out of the way, you may be more likely to embrace the encouraging research about medical cannabis oil (or cannabidiol, also called CBD). It’s been widely touted in the news and is gaining wider acceptance as an effective treatment for conditions like epilepsy. However, it’s being studied for all kinds of other ailments, too.
In recent years, science has begun to give cannabis more careful study as it shows promise as a possible treatment for many conditions. But what about you and your migraines? Could CBD Oil help you with your migraine headaches, and is it the right thing for you?
A word about pharmaceuticals
Great strides in migraine relief have been made within the last few years. Drug companies have developed several effective migraine medications and introduced them to the market. However, for a large number of migraine sufferers, drugs aren’t the ideal answer.
All of us want to know that what we’re putting in our bodies is safe. Many of us would prefer something natural, but also effective. Perhaps you’re looking for a migraine treatment that focuses on overall wellness, rather than a prescribed or OTC drug that merely dulls the pain and comes with unwanted or potentially harmful side effects.
CBD oil has potential as a safe, natural treatment for migraine. Several studies have linked CBD oil with pain relieving properties, and also documented its safety. This prompts a lot of migraine sufferers to try CBD oil for migraine relief, but due to regulations and changing laws in your state, you may not have had the chance try it. Or, perhaps you’ve looked into the possibilities but still have some questions.
CBD and natural migraine relief
In this article, we’ll examine common CBD oil questions: what it is, how it works, and whether it might be an effective migraine treatment. We’ll address some common concerns about CBD’s perceived relation to marijuana, and how CBD does — and does not — affect the body. Finally, we will take a look at potential side effects of CBD oil, and how to make sure you get the best quality product should you choose to try it for migraine.
What is CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil?
To explain what CBD oil is, let’s first clarify what it isn’t. CBD or cannabidiol is not marijuana, as common misconceptions might lead some to believe. CBD (or cannabidiol) is an isolated extract of a plant called Cannabis Sativa. Some may refer to this plant as “marijuana.” However, the Cannabis Sativa plant (which people may dry and smoke) includes about 120 other substances aside from CBD. CBD is just an isolated extract of one of those substances.
Not only is CBD just one of many substances in the Cannabis Sativa plant, but science has proven that it’s not the one that gets you high (more on that later). CBD has an established track record of safety, with only mild side effects including changes in appetite, fatigue, and diarrhea.
How does CBD work?
How CBD works in the human body is still a bit of a mystery. While studies have shown the promise of CBD in treating epilepsy and some types of chronic pain, we still know very little about how it actually works.
Initially, there was some indication that the body’s endocannabinoid system and its receptors bound with CBD like a lock and key. The endocannabinoid system is thought to play a role in the immune function, along with other things like memory, anxiety, and mood regulation. Further studies, however, have shown that there is likely no binding taking place. So although those initial theories have largely been dismissed, it’s still possible that CBD could interact with the endocannabinoid system in some way other way. However, this is just one of many possibilities and is still being studied along with the many potential benefits of CBD.
What are the benefits of CBD Oil?
One of the major benefits of CBD oil, especially for proponents of natural treatments, is the fact that CBD is not a pharmaceutically-engineered drug with a host of potential side effects and negative drug interactions. However, that doesn’t seem to be where its benefits end.
An article published in 2018 in Frontiers of Neurology discussed evidence that CBD has a number of positive pharmacological properties, including as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective substance.
CBD oil has been explored in the treatment of diabetes, depression, arthritis, and other ailments. The study also cites the fact that CBD is safe, as it does not alter heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, and psychomotor and psychological functions are not negatively affected.As of this writing, the latest publication to reference CBD and migraine states that, “CBD has shown to have benefit in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders including autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, psychosis, neuropathic pain, cancer pain, HIV, migraine, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, Huntington disease, hypoxic-ischemic injury and epilepsy. CBD is generally well tolerated. Most common adverse events are diarrhea and somnolence. CBD also shows significantly low abuse potential
With its safety established, many migraineurs feel secure about trying CBD oil to treat their migraines. They might refer to their own use as a “study of one,” where, feeling sure of its safety, they simply try CBD to see how it affects them and their condition. Just like anything else, effectiveness and personal experience may vary from person to person.
Could CBD Oil help me with my migraines?
You’re one of many to ask yourself this question. And the short answer is, potentially yes. While a “study of one” is the best way to find out how CBD oil affects you, studies have shown promising results when evaluating cannabis for its effects on chronic pain and inflammation. (For example, as we’ll cover later on, it has been shown to help those with arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and may help opioid reduce their reliance on pharmaceutical pain relievers.)
To date, cannabis oil has not been studied in its isolated state specifically for migraine. However, cannabis combined with THC has shown promise for migraine relief in clinical study. There are many reports of positive results from migraineurs who have used CBD to treat their condition. Many say that it helps to ease migraine pain, and even shorten attacks.
Recent cannabis research
As published in Acta Neurologica Taiwanica, a number of studies which examined the use of cannabis to treat migraine headache, most studies looked at a small number of cases. “A retrospective chart review of 121 adults with migraine, who use prescribed medical marijuana to treat or prevent migraine had migraine frequency decrease from 10.4 to 4.6 headache per month. Most participants used more than one form of marijuana daily for prevention. The study showed decreased frequency of migraine headache in 24 patients (19.8%) and aborted migraine headache in 14 patients (11.6%). The most common side effects were somnolence and difficulty controlling the effects of marijuana related to timing and intensity of the dose; edible marijuana products caused more negative effects.
Using CBD to treat headaches is not new. As an ancient natural remedy, cannabis has been used for thousands of years to treat certain types of headaches. But while we await documented studies on CBD and its specific effects on migraine, many sufferers are trying it for themselves, compiling plenty of personal success stories.
New survey shows CBD has positive impact on migraine
While no clinical studies have been undertaken exploring CBD and migraine, for the last couple years, Axon Relief has been surveying people with migraine before they take Axon’s specific formula of CBD and again after 30 days of using the oil.
Using a clinically-validated questionnaire called the Headache Impact Survey (Hit-6™), Axon Relief measured the impact of a headache on a persons life. The results are showing an overwhelming majority of headache sufferers could benefit from taking CBD oil. At the end of the 30-day trial period, 86% of respondents reported decreased headache impact.
The survey is significant, due to the fact that while there is an abundance of anecdotal accounts of people using CBD oil with good results for migraine, there is very little in the way of standardized results. One hundred and five people with migraine participated in the 30-day survey.
The CBD oil used in the study is made in Utah by Axon Relief. During the trial period, users of Axon’s CBD oil experienced an average of 3.8 fewer headache days when compared to before they used the oil, for a 23% reduction. “Our goal is to explore if our CBD isolate can help people who suffer from chronic headaches, like migraine. The data showing CBD’s effect on migraine is the first of its kind, and very promising,” says Ben Rollins, founder of Axon Relief.
Condition severity of survey participants varied, including low-frequency to high-frequency episodic migraine, as well as chronic migraine. Chronic migraine sufferers are defined as people who experience 15 to 29 headache days over a 30-day period. In this study, participants with chronic migraine saw a 33% reduction in their headache days. The number of participants experiencing daily headaches was reduced from 15 at the beginning of the study to 10 by the end of the study — a 33% drop.
One example of the positive impact revealed in the survey comes from a participant by the name of Glen, who says, “…Since the ’90s I’ve been on constant high doses of carbamazepine and gabapentin. The periodic pain breakthroughs were only controlled by hydrocodone, which always made me feel…uncomfortable. What a change CBD Oil has made: no more carbamazepine or hydrocodone, and only half the gabapentin — and far better pain control. Pain breakthroughs still happen, but another squirt of Axon CBD, and the pain is gone within 15 minutes. I have no side effects.”
What are CBD Oil users saying?
As of this writing, clinical data on CBD and its effect on migraine headaches is somewhat slim. However, the Internet abounds with anecdotal evidence of migraineurs who have tried CBD oil and found varying degrees of relief. With a Google search, you’re likely to find many stories that echo the sentiments of the following two, sent to us by Kate G. and Jaimee H., both of whom have found CBD Oil helpful in treating migraine.
“I have struggled with migraines since I was about 12. When Axon launched the CBD Oil, I was one of the first customers. Actually, to be honest I was very skeptical. I have tried medicine, rest, darkness, vitamins, more medicine but nothing really relieved the pain and pressure for longer than a few hours. I didn’t like having to keep taking pills either. Nothing really had a great affect or worked well for me, so when I had the opportunity to try the CBD Oil, I decided to give it a go.
” I did not believe it would actually do anything for me. The day I tried it, I had had a migraine most of the day. I took 3 or 4 drops and waited. 10-15 minutes later, the pressure and pain in my head and behind my eyes completely left. It was like I hadn’t even had a migraine the entire day. Pressure gone. Pain gone. Spots in front of my eyes…gone. My head did not hurt the rest of the day. Now I have never tried anything like CBD Oil before.
“When I use my CBD now, I still don’t even take the full serving amount. I only use 3-4 drops at a time. But each time, within 10-15 minutes my migraine clears and stays gone for hours, if not all day. The second I feel any pressure or start to see spot, I take my drops. I have never had this much success with anything I have tried before. It has made a massive difference for me. I keep it in my purse, with me at all times. At night, by my bedside, just in case. I was not a believer before, just a skeptic. Now…I recommend it to anyone and everyone who mentions that they are a sufferer too. CBD Oil and my glasses have made all the difference for me.”
Jaimee, a professional lifeguard, had been suffering since 2006 from migraines triggered by stress, weather, or lack of sleep. In 2010, she was finally diagnosed with hemiplegic migraine. The diagnosis gave her a label for her condition, but it didn’t offer any relief from suffering up to 4 migraines in any given month.
Some might call Jaimee’s migraine condition “less painful” than others. But while her attacks usually involve less head pain than most people think of with migraine, they do come with aura such as acute nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Sometimes her condition has prevented her from participating in work or other activities.
Jaimee tried all the usual remedies to manage her migraine: various medications and supplements, dietary changes, even essential oils. But many of those remedies came with side effects, and none of them offered much relief, especially from the acute nausea.
Like many other Axon customers, Jaimee came across Axon with some previous familiarity with CBD.
“I have actually used CDB in the past but not as a daily supplement. We use it for our daughter who has autism and anxiety, with great success. I have used it for acute nausea during the aura phase of migraine, and found it worked better than Meclizine.”
Aside from her success in using CBD for aura-related nausea, Jaime has found Axon CBD has helped her sleep better and feel more calm. She has experienced fewer vestibular issues while taking it. (Vestibular problems can affect the inner ear and balance, causing dizziness.) Those benefits, along with the absence of bad side effects, lead Jaimee to recommend it.
“CBD really does work for migraine-related nausea…I recommend taking it at bedtime to promote restful sleep. Additionally, a couple of droppers under the tongue when experiencing acute nausea during the aura phase of migraine is incredibly helpful.”
What does the clinical research say about CBD oil?
Specific data is somewhat limited, due to small sample sizes and simple lack of study on CBD alone (as opposed to medicinal marijuana as a whole). As referenced earlier, pure CBD oil hasn’t been studied for its effects on migraine specifically, but has shown promise for migraine relief in conjunction with THC. In the meantime, we do have some promising clinical data about how CBD and medical marijuana might affect chronic pain and other conditions. For example:
- In one 2012 study, CBD was found to be effective at relieving some types of chronic pain and inflammation, including the those associated with arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
- In 2016, a survey conducted by Pharmacotherapy indicated that “medical marijuana” (though isolated CBD was not part of this study) may reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. In this study, users reported a reduction in migraines from 10.4 down to 4.6 per month.
- One study conducted in 2009 found evidence that cannabis compounds may be useful in treating pain in long-time users of opioids who want to lessen their use of pharmaceutical pain relievers.
As you can see, the data we do have seems to bode well for CBD as a migraine treatment. At the very least, its recorded safety makes it seem worth trying for those who want to reduce pharmaceutical drug intake. As more and more people try isolated CBD oil for migraine, we can begin to gather and publish the supporting data.
Something to note: Emerging scientific study of CBD oil as a viable treatment for migraine should not be confused with the studies that examine the use of the entire plant, which may include THC. This is not the same as pure CBD oil. While these studies do support cannabis as an effective migraine treatment (when including THC), the absence of THC is what sets pure CBD apart. This makes isolated CBD safe, legal, and more desirable for a lot of people.
What is the correct CBD dosage?
While there is no specific recommended dose, CBD has been found to be safe even in high amounts. For reference, Axon’s CBD Oil is formulated specifically for migraine, and is considered a high concentrate with over 33 mg Cannabidiol per 1 ml serving size. Other CBD oils may contain as little as 3 mg. As with any supplement, it’s always best to follow the label instructions any CBD Oil, and take note of how you feel before making any personal adjustments.
According to a 2018 study, “adverse events of cannabis medicine pertain primarily to THC, whose total daily dose-equivalent should generally be limited to 30mg/day or less.” By contrast, CBD was found by the same study to be far less potent, which means it “may require much higher doses for its adjunctive benefits on pain.”
A 2011 review on the safety and side effects of CBD found that continuous use of CBD, even in high doses such as 1,500 mg a day, is tolerated well by humans. This study states that, “based on recent advances in cannabinoid administration in humans, controlled CBD may be safe in humans and animals. However, further studies are needed to clarify these reported in vitro and in vivo side effects.”
A 2017 update to the above review confirmed that CBD is well tolerated by people. However, a 2019 study conducted on mice did raise some safety concerns about potential liver damage associated with CBD and its interactions with other medications.