CBD, CBG and migraines.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil can relieve pain and reduce inflammation, and some research suggests that CBD can help treat migraine. A growing body of research suggests that CBD can help relieve pain, particularly neurological pain, related to a variety of conditions. In particular, CBD oil shows promise as a treatment for migraine, reports the Migraine Foundation of America. While acknowledging that there is no scientific evidence that CBD is an effective treatment, they point out that this may be due to a general lack of formal research on CBD.
Below, we explore how CBD could benefit people with migraine and discuss its efficacy, safety and legality.
Why CBD oil can relieve migraine?
CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. It is different from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound in cannabis that produces a high.
There is no evidence that CBD produces a high. It does have other effects on the body, which may include pain relief and reduction of inflammation.CBD can relieve pain because it affects specific receptors in the brain. These receptors are part of the wider endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in pain and inflammation throughout the body.
Research has linked medical cannabis to the following effects, which are relevant for the treatment of migraine:
- pain relief
- relief of nausea
- reduction of inflammation
- anticonvulsant effects
However, there has been very limited research on the safety and efficacy of cannabis, or CBD specifically, for migraine - in part due to legal restrictions on research involving the cannabis plant.
In a 2017 review of studies, researchers noted that cannabis may help treat migraine, but CBD oil may have different effects, and no research has shown that the oil can help treat migraine. Overall, more studies are needed.
What does the research say?
According to the National Centers for Complementary and Integrative HealthTrusted Source, some evidence suggests that cannabis - and specifically CBD - may have modest benefits for chronic pain. Also, a 2020Trusted Source review has found that CBD can help relieve chronic pain, improve sleep and reduce inflammation in some circumstances.
The results of a 2016 study indicate that medical cannabis can reduce the frequency of migraines. However, the study did not investigate CBD specifically. A 2018 review of relevant research also reports that cannabis appears promising as a method to relieve pain, including migraine pain. A 2017 review concluded that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence and preliminary findings to warrant further research and high-quality clinical trials.
The conclusion is that more research is needed. If CBD is to be effective, researchers will have to find the most effective doses and formulations.
Meanwhile, researchers have studied whether cannabis compounds can treat chronic pain in people who have been taking opioids for a long time and want to reduce their use. The authors of a 2009 study found evidence to support this, but a 2018 study found no link between cannabis use and reductions in pain or opioid use. However, the results of the latter study were based on participants' reported cannabis use, and most of this was not legal use.
How to use CBD oil
A person can use CBD oil
- as an ingredient in food and beverages
- in capsule form
- in oral drops or sprays
- inhaling it or vaporising it, although both can be dangerous
(In Spain only the external use of CBD is regulated, so we cannot recommend the internal use of CBD).
In the meantime, researchers are studying the potential benefits and the legal and ethical implications of CBD in other forms, such as those that can be administered rectally, through the eye, or through the skin.
Since no definitive studies have investigated the effects of CBD oil on migraine in humans, there is no standard dose or method of using the oil.
However, a doctor in an area where CBD oil is legal may recommend a low, safe dose to start with. In general, it is best to start with a very low dose and see if it helps.