Migraines are much different than a regular headache. People can typically still function with a regular headache. But migraine sufferers know that the pain and symptoms are much more severe and life-altering. They know what it’s like for migraines to not only affect them, but also the people around them.
Although research is limited, Cannabidiol (CBD) does show promise in treating and relieving the many symptoms that come with a migraine.
A typical migraine will last anywhere from 4-72 hours at a time. Often, the pain from a migraine will affect one side of the head. Although migraine symptoms vary greatly from person to person, the most common symptoms include:
● Visual disturbances
● Nausea or vomiting
● Sensitivity to sound, light, touch, and smell
● Tingling or numbness in the extremities or the face
Types of Migraines
According to the American Migraine Foundation , there are 9 types of migraines:
A quarter of migraine sufferers experience aura –– sensory and visual disturbances. When aura sets in, it’s usually the warning sign of a migraine to come.
Migraine without aura
Nausea and vomiting are usually associated with this type of migraine. The more physicallyl active the person is during the migraine, the worse the symptoms become. The main difference between migraines with aura and without aura, is that there is no warning sign of what’s to come with a migraine without aura.
Silent or acephalgic migraine
This type of migraine has no head pain but all the symptoms of a migraine –– nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensory and visual disturbances, etc.
This migraine is very similar to what a stroke may feel like, with pain and weakness up and down one side of the body. Some may experience head pain, while others may not. Aura symptoms are often a common complaint with this migraine.
These are more common in women and often cause loss of sight in one eye. Very little is known of this type of migraine, however researchers believe these migraines are a sign of a more serious issue, and it must be addressed.
These migraines are often mistaken as a tension or sinus headache. Chronic migraines can last more than 15 days at a time.
Ice pick headaches
Ice pick headaches are just what their name suggests: severe sharp pain, like an ice pick is being shoved into the head. They come on suddenly and typically last no longer than 30 seconds.
Pain will feel as if the eyes, back of the head, and temples are burning. Cluster headaches are perhaps the most painful type of headache a person can experience. Sadly, these headaches are referred to “suicide headaches.”
These headaches are often caused by neck pain. Lesions on the spine can cause pain in the back of the head. Physical therapy is great treatment for this type of headache.
What science says about migraines
According to multiple studies, endocannabinoid deficiency has been linked to increased migraines and numerous health related issues.
Recently, scientists discovered an endocannabinoid in the body known as anandamide (AEA), otherwise known as the “bliss molecule”. Anandamide increases the power of 5-HT1A and blocks 5-HT2A receptors. These receptors support the acute therapeutic production and prevention of migraines. Research also shows that cannabinoids block inflammation and the overproduction of dopamine in the brain, which are two major sources of migraines .
In another study, researchers noted that although migraine attacks aren’t quite understood, results from clinical studies suggest that when the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is activated by cannabinoids, like CBD, it can therapeutically reduce inflammation and the physiological components involved in a migraine attack. This same study also suggests that utilizing CBD-infused topicals can alleviate the tension and pain associated with migraines.
How CBD helps migraines
What makes CBD so impactful and therapeutic is the way it balances out the endocannabinoid system (ECS) –– a system much like our hormone, lymphatic, and endocrine system. It’s made up of receptor cells found throughout the body which communicate regulation of our body's temperature, appetite, sleep, etc. The ECS is most receptive to CBD.
There are a lot of chemical and enzymatic reactions that occur in and around the grey matter of the brain. Grey matter contains neuronal cell bodies that develop information in the brain, like the perception of pain.
Grey matter is also where a lot of certain enzyme reactions occur. One particular type of enzymatic reaction is the breakdown of anandamide (AEA). Migraine symptoms occur because of the chaos going on in the grey matter, causing the increase of inflammation and dopamine levels and throwing all the neurotransmitters out of balance. However, it’s through the grey matter that we can harness and manage pain, while preserving anandamide with the use of sublingual and topical CBD.
Additionally, clinical data suggests that frequent migraine sufferers can utilize cannabinoids like CBD as a migraine preventative for future migraines. Frequent CBD use greatly impacts the balancing of the ECS — thereby reducing the many symptoms that either warn individuals a migraine is coming, develop during a migraine, or follow a debilitating migraine.
Unfortunately, due to the opioid crisis and poor insurance plans, migraine sufferers are either left without treatment plans, or have a cabinet full of harmful pain pills that cause side effects and no longer work. Finding relief can be overwhelming and at times confusing, but there is an alternative solution worth trying for migraine sufferers. Using quality CBD-infused topicals and sublingual CBD oils will greatly balance the body long-term, potentially eradicating the frequency of migraines and a whole of host of other ailments.
If you are considering using CBD, please consult a doctor if you are currently on any medications.