The use of both THC and CBD the two most dominant cannabinoids in cannabis have shown continued signs that they can help manage various aspects of pain throughout the body. This largely comes down to both cannabinoids interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes that help regulate functions throughout the body such as sleep, mood, hunger, cognitive ability, and pain sensation. Let’s take a look at CBD and how it can potentially ease the painful affects that come with migraines.
CBD and Migraines
Although there are no conclusive studies directly linking CBD to migraine relief, there is evidence that CBD interacts with various avenues in the brain that can helps provide relief in those who are experiencing migraines. Located in the pain processing area of the brain you can find endocannabinoid receptors, one of these receptors is known as the anandamide. The purpose of the anandamide is to maintain homeostasis. The anandamide does this by regulating inflammation and the neuron signaling in our brain, binding with both cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. When we consume CBD it binds with the anandamide receptor. Since the anandamide is found in the pain processing area of the brain this means that when CBD interacts with the natural endocannabinoid it binds together and helps reduce the pain signals that are sent to the brain, telling the brain that the pain isn’t as bad as it could be. This shows that CBD interaction with the anandamide can help reduce pain brought on my migraines. Furthermore, anandamide is shown that is targets similar pain signaling pathways as Triptans which is a medication commonly used when treating migraines and cluster headaches. This points towards the use of CBD as a safer alternative to helping treat migraine pain, as it binds with the anandamide, boosting its ability and preforming similar actions to migraine-based medication. There are other studies around anandamide levels that further support CBD and how it can help influence migraines in a positive manner. In 2007 a study done by the journal of Neuropsychopharmacology looked at the possibility that there is an impairment of the endocannabinoid system when it comes to those suffering from migraines. In the study there is evidence that our anandamide levels become depressed in the cerebrospinal fluid when we are experiencing a migraine, which points to an impaired ECS. This also boosts the support of CBD for migraine relief as the introduction of CBD cannabinoids into the body would help reduce that anandamide depression, therefore reducing an impaired ECS and possibly reducing the pain of a migraine.
There is still much to be studied on the role of CBD, the ECS and migraines but the evidence is mounting that CBD is a strong contender when it comes to a natural alternative to pain relief within the body and the partnership of marijuana and heades.
THC and Migraines
Recently the movement to use THC to help mediate migraines has come up big on the research front. Two recent studies have shown that the use of cannabis can have big impacts on pain management for those who suffer from migraines. First is a study conducted by Washington State University, published in the Journal of Pain has become the first research group to use big data from those who are suffering from both headaches and migraines and using marijuana in real time. The study had over 1300 individuals who experience regular headaches use an app to track changes in headaches from before to after using cannabis and another 653 patients suffering from migraines. In total the app was used over 20,000 times and saw an overall decrease in headache and migraine reduction, with 90% of male participants and 89% of female participants. The study also noted that the use of cannabis concentrates helped reduce headache severity more then of cannabis flower. The different in THC and CBD levels didn’t seem to make much difference on the reducing of pain which also points towards other cannabinoids such as cannabis terpenes playing a larger role in cannabis then previously thought. With further studies needed this evidence should help experts better understand the best marijuana strains for migraines and whether indica or sativa for migraines is the best choice.
The second study was on a smaller scale but had similar results towards the positive nature cannabis could have on migraines. The study included 127 participants who were effected by chronic migraines and cluster headaches. The participants were given a combination of both THC and CBD throughout two phases. The results shown from these tests resulted in:
- A decrease in migraines from 10 per month to 4
- Around 40% of participants found cannabis provided positive effects
- 8% reported cannabis helped to prevent oncoming migraines
- 6 reported that cannabis stopped migraine headaches all together
- 85% reported less migraines per month while using cannabis
- 12% saw no change
- 2% reported an increase in migraine frequency
Within the study inhaling cannabis seemed to be the quickest and most effective method of stopping migraines, with edibles being less favoured due to the time it took to kick in and the strong euphoria experience, along with sleepiness and other negative side effects.