MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Migraine

CBD in the case of migraine

Light, street noise, conversations, touch – with all of these you get the feeling that your skull is about to explode like a supernova – migraine. This neurological medical condition occurs three times more often in women than in men. 

But whether it is a woman or a man, during a migraine attack, patients suffer from sensitivity to noise and light, severe nausea and usually dramatic headaches. A migraine attack can last only four hours if you are “lucky”, but it can also last a torturous 72 hours. What starts with “harmless” flickering before the eyes then develops into booming headaches.

CBD taken for migraines has been shown to have a relaxing effect and, above all, a natural pain-relieving effect. It has long been considered by experts and migraine sufferers to be much more than an insider tip.

Causes of migraine

Doctors, especially neurologists, distinguish five phases of a migraine. In short, after a normal state free from pain and discomfort, the early phase begins, followed by the short phase of aura (here the first symptoms are noticed), followed by the severe headache phase, which gradually calms down in the resolution phase and subsides in the recovery phase until the normal state returns.

Triggers of the well-known and literally knock-out symptoms can be, among other things, a change in the daily routine, negative stress, hormonal fluctuations, overly strong sensory stimuli or a flood of particularly strong emotions such as deep sorrow or fear.

cbd-in-the-case-of-migraine

Strong emotions, such as grief, can trigger migraines

How migraine medication works

For many people, the end of migraine treatment with medication should simply be relief from the hammering headaches. This form of acute therapy includes painkillers (blood thinners), drugs for nausea and vomiting as well as triptans, which have a similar effect to the body’s own messenger substance serotonin. The latter is used because a disturbed serotonin balance in the brain is also strongly suspected to be the trigger of migraine attacks.

In acute cases where private use of medication has not brought about a significant improvement, the emergency services or an emergency doctor are often called. They then usually inject acetylsalicylic acid subcutaneously immediately after arrival and diagnosis. This active ingredient is the basis of many over-the-counter and prescription painkillers in a weakened form.

CBD in the case of migraines – How does cannabidiol work?

CBD, the non-psychoactive substance of the hemp plant, is regularly used as a preventive measure in the case of migraines. There is no state of intoxication as occurs with the related THC – CBD is actually a recognised antidote to THC. Studies suggest that the relaxing and pain-relieving properties of CBD are excellent as a prophylactic against migraine. However, it is important that if CBD is taken in combination with painkillers, a doctor should always be consulted. Again, it is better to be safe than sorry.

However, if the five phases of migraine have already started, CBD can be helpful in all phases. The long history of hemp as an analgesic plant is sometimes based on CBD as an active ingredient. In all phases of migraine, the aim is to negate or even suppress the headache. The analgesic properties of cannabidiol are a major reason for taking CBD for migraine attacks. Following many positive test results, experts suspect that cannabidiol blocks the pain receptors in the brain. This prevents the signals from being passed on as much as possible. By using CBD, the consumption of blood-thinning painkillers can be reduced. This means that patients are less burdened with side effects or possible dependencies.

Apart from reducing pain, CBD increases the release of serotonin, commonly known as the happiness hormone, in the human body. Besides its mood-brightening properties, serotonin is also “responsible” for controlling nausea and vomiting. Studies on migraine patients have shown that serotonin concentrations vary considerably during an attack. Measurements before, during and after a migraine attack have shown that serotonin levels rise before an attack but fall rapidly afterwards.

This lack of serotonin is acutely suspected of triggering the throbbing headaches typical of migraines. And this is where CBD comes in to regulate migraines. Cannabidiol regulates the secretion of serotonin, and a balanced equilibrium ensures that the migraine symptoms of nausea and vomiting improve rapidly. The fact that the CBD also constricts the blood vessels means that headaches are also reduced.

A study [1] from 2018 found valid evidence that there is a link between the endocannabinoid system and migraines. Here too, it was possible to compensate for deficiency symptoms by taking CBD, for example, in oil form.

With and without aura – 2 types of migraine

Doctors distinguish between two types of migraine – those with and those without an aura. The “common migraine” is without an aura. It is common because about 80 to 85 percent of migraines are of this kind. Here is a simple list of criteria that patients and doctors can use to tell if it is this kind of migraine. They include:

  • moderate to severe headache intensity
  • unilateral headache, called hemicrania
  • impact increased by physical activity
  • pulsating throbbing pain character

While the usual migraine starts suddenly, in the case of migraines with an aura, the classic signs of pain and nausea appear beforehand. These include the visual disturbance known as “flickering” (which can lead to a loss of the visual field), scotomas, the perception of coloured and jagged lines and flashes of light, as well as sensory disturbances and even speech disorders. Under certain circumstances, paralysis can also occur during the aura. These aura symptoms are hardly ever noticeable for more than an hour. However, headaches usually start after this time. These are followed by other normal symptoms like sensitivity to light or noise and nausea.

Since CBD also does not start working until at least 15 minutes after being administered, it can be used during the aura symptoms to counteract the drastic effects of the migraines themselves.

Current research

Current research into the link between migraines and the healing effects of CBD also examines the factor that CBD fights the trigger factors of migraines. These triggers are mostly stress and lack of sleep. Because taking CBD relaxes and promotes healthy and natural sleep, CBD is the ideal way to prevent migraines.

Conclusion

  • CBD can be used both for prevention and to fight the symptoms of migraines.
  • It is effective against the typical headaches as well as nausea and vomiting.

Further studies

When taking products containing cannabinoids, interactions with various medicines may occur. If you are taking medication yourself, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.