CBD is one of the most well-known compounds in hemp and cannabis sativa plants. While delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) causes an intoxicatingly psychoactive high, CBD alone does not.
Research links cannabis to headache and migraine relief; one 2021 literature review reports that a combination of CBD and THC had encourage short- and long-term outcomes for people suffering from migraines.
When examining CBD alone, studies show the cannabinoid can be an effective treatment option for chronic pain. One survey conducted by Axon Relief—a company developing products for migraine relief—found CBD may lead to a reduction in migraine days and help decrease the impact of migraines. While further research is needed, the American Migraine Foundation reports that CBD oil may be a viable topical solution for neck and joint pain often associated with migraines.
Beyond pain relief, CBD may help reduce nausea and inflammation often associated with migraines, says Chantel Strachan, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician and headache specialist at ColumbiaDoctors and Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York.
How CBD Works
When it comes to CBD and migraines, the benefits look increasingly optimistic. “There is promising scientific research that CBD may be effective in easing migraine symptoms through CBD’s interaction with the body’s endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS)” says Michael Lewis, MD, president and founder of the Brain Health Education and Research Institute and medical advisor at CV Sciences, Inc., a company researching and developing CBD products.
Cannabinoids, including CBD, interact with the ECS—a neuromodulatory system that plays a role in central nervous system development and the body’s response to both endogenous and environmental threats—through receptors found throughout the body. “Cannabinoid interaction with these receptors causes cells to reduce inflammation, relieve pain or just make us feel good,” says Dr. Lewis. What’s more, clinical shows people with chronic migraines (at least 15 evidence headache days per month) have lower levels of endocannabinoids—neurotransmitters that naturally exist within the body and bind to cannabinoid receptors—which may help explain how CBD may benefit people with migraines.
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