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17th November 2020

CBD for Migraines: The Current Research

Migraines can be extremely painful and having an attack can prevent you from leading your daily life in the way that you normally would. In this blog, we take a look at the current research and thinking on CBD for migraines.

What is a migraine?

A migraine is a severe type of headache that can be debilitating. Most people who experience migraines will get them on a regular or semi-regular basis. It is typically felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head.

As well as the headache, some people will experience additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise. It is a common health condition that affects around 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men.

For some people, a migraine headache will occur without warning. For others, they may see warning signs before the migraine begins such as flashing lights - this is known as ‘migraine with aura’.

The exact cause of migraines is unknown but it is thought to be to do with chemical changes in the brain. People often find that migraine attacks are triggered by particular things, such as stress, tiredness, certain food or drinks, and the start of menstruation. 

How are migraines treated?

Most people are advised to take painkillers such as paracetamol when they feel a migraine attack coming on as this can help to lessen the pain. Heat can help to relax tense muscles which can also lessen the headache pain.

It is also advised to try and prevent migraines by avoiding any triggers that you recognise. For example, if you know that stress usually brings on an attack for you, you can try to take measures to reduce the levels of stress in your life. Regular exercise and avoiding caffeine and alcohol can also help.

Recently, more people have been wondering whether CBD, or cannabidiol, can be used to manage migraine pain. We explore this possibility in more detail below.

What is the current research on CBD for migraines?

As it stands, there isn’t much research available specifically on CBD for migraines. However, researchers have indicated its promise and stated that it should be looked at in more detail. 

A 2018 article on the ‘Emerging Role of (Endo)Cannabinoids in Migraine’ concluded by stating that cannabinoids present a promising class of compounds for the treatment of migraine pain. They also suggest that the CBD-based drug Epidiolex® could potentially be repurposed for treating migraines.

Additionally, CBD is thought to be effective in managing stress, anxiety and sleep, all of which are considered to be migraine triggers in certain individuals. If CBD can help certain people to feel calmer and more relaxed, as well as getting better sleep, this may, in turn, work to reduce the frequency of migraines.

A 2015 study found that CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, stating it has anxiolytic effects (meaning it is an intervention that reduces anxiety). This is promising for those who suspect that their migraines can be triggered by increased anxious feelings.

Another 2019 study of CBD in anxiety and sleep found that anxiety scores decreased and sleep scores improved within the first month of the trial.

Some have also suggested that migraines can be caused by neck and shoulder tension or pain, and it is thought that CBD can help with muscular pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Generally speaking, although scientists need to look at this area in more detail, there seems to be promise in CBD for managing or reducing migraine-related pain. We are hopeful that more research will be done in this area and that the results are positive!

We hope you have found this article on CBD for migraines useful. For more blogs like this, you can browse the CBD Effects section of our blog. If you’re interested in seeing what CBD products are out there, you can take a look at our curated collection.

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