Do CBD oil and medical cannabis help migraine pain?

Karen Berger, PharmD, Medical Writer Do you or a loved one suffer from the excruciating pain of migraine? If you do, you know a migraine can be very disruptive to everyday function. And you know you are not alone. According to the Migraine Research Foundation,almost one in four households includes a person who has migraine. 

Some more statistics on migraine:

To someone who has never experienced the terrible pain of a migraine, a migraine can appear as a mild or minor discomfort or inconvenience, but for millions of Americans, this is a chronic, disabling condition. Take a look at some of the statistics listed below: 
  • Twelve percent of the population suffers from migraine.
  • Migraine is most common between the ages of 18 and 44.
  • Migraine can severely affect one’s life – it is the sixth most disabling illness in the world.
  • Every ten seconds, someone in the US goes to the emergency room with a migraine.
  • While many sufferers have several migraine days a month, over four million people in the US have chronic daily migraine, meaning they have at least 15 days a month with a migraine.
  • Over 90% of sufferers cannot work or function during a migraine.
  • There is a $36 billion annual cost of healthcare and lost productivity due to migraine in the US. 
  • Migraine is often undiagnosed and undertreated.
  • Chronic migraine may be also associated with other conditions such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

Current treatment options for migraine

There are a variety of treatment options for those who suffer from migraine, including:
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Excedrin)
  • Preventive dietary supplements (such as magnesium, coenzyme Q-10)
  • Preventive prescription medications (such as beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, and the newer injections such as Aimovig, Ajovy, and Emgality) 
  • Prescription medications to treat the acute attack (such as Imitrex)
Despite the many prevention and treatment options, many patients still suffer every day.  Is CBD oil or medical cannabis a worthwhile option to prevent or treat migraine? We know that many patients use CBD oil or medical cannabis to alleviate symptoms of pain, so would these options also help migraine-related pain?  Let’s take a look at what the experts say. 

CBD oil for migraine: 

Dr. Stephen Silberstein, Director of the Headache Center at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, was interviewed by the American Migraine Foundation2 about the use of CBD oil for migraine.  Dr. Silberstein says that CBD oil (with little to no THC content) may be a viable topical option for some patients with “joint and muscle pain associated with migraine…if you have a lot of neck pain or soreness, it is perfectly reasonable to use CBD oil. It may even prevent nausea and vomiting.” (Many migraine sufferers experience nausea, vomiting, and other associated symptoms.) He recommends checking the website Americans for Safe Access3 which can tell you about the legal status of CBD oil, as well as medical cannabis, in your state. He also recommends purchasing a pure and regulated CBD product, which, as we discussed recently in our blog, is always very important. Finally, Dr. Silberstein recommends checking with your doctor before using CBD or medical cannabis (see more on this below), and not using CBD or medical cannabis in adolescents because it may affect the developing brain.  Although there are no studies about CBD alone for migraine, lab tests show that CBD oil may help with acute or chronic pain, including migraine. 

Medical cannabis for migraine:

A 2018 study4 published in the Journal of Headache and Pain studied 2,032 patients treated with medical cannabis (with a higher THC content, as opposed to CBD oil) for 21 illnesses, including pain syndromes such as chronic pain, arthritis, and migraine. Headache was a symptom treated with cannabis in 24.9% of the patients. Patients preferred a hybrid strain, OG Shark (a high THC, low CBD strain), and many patients were able to substitute cannabis for pain medications, including opioids. The study concluded that this could reflect THC’s strong properties that help pain, inflammation, and nausea, allowing patients to substitute cannabis for prescription medications. The authors concluded that while more research is needed, cannabis may be useful to treat headache/migraine, and chronic pain syndromes.  A 2018 review article5 in Frontiers in Pharmacology concluded that cannabis can be effective in the treatment of chronic pain, and is generally well-tolerated. However, the study noted that long-term studies are lacking, and because of this, patients should be carefully monitored while using medical cannabis for any condition. A 2016 study6 of 121 patients at two medical cannabis specialty clinics in Colorado concluded that when patients used medical cannabis daily for the prevention of migraine, the frequency of migraine was decreased. 

MyCureAll’s analysis:

While more research needs to be done, we believe that CBD oil or medical cannabis can be a helpful part of a comprehensive treatment plan in the treatment and/or prevention of migraine. Of course, it is important to discuss using CBD oil or medical cannabis (and with medical cannabis, go through the appropriate channels to join your state medical marijuana program) with your healthcare provider before you (or your child) try it. Discuss with your healthcare provider if it is safe to use CBD oil or medical cannabis with any other medical conditions you have and any medications that you take A neurologist can properly diagnose you and help you develop a treatment plan, which may include dietary supplements, preventive prescription medication, prescription medication for acute attacks, non pharmacological measures (such as meditation and avoiding caffeine and trigger foods) and perhaps CBD oil or medical cannabis. 

We sincerely hope you find relief from your migraine pain! 

MyCureAll offers a variety of CBD products such as CBD oils, topicals, and flowers. You can be confident in our products, because they are pharmacist-formulated, grown in the USA, and extensively tested for purity and to ensure that there is no contamination. Check out our Shopify store to see our wide selection of CBD products.

Also, MyCureAll is working hard to get medical cannabis covered by insurance. Join over 2,000 people who have signed our petition on change.org. Check out our unique and proprietary Canna-Meter, which helps you have the ultimate cannabis experience, saving you time and money by helping you find the perfect strain that is most helpful for your migraine. 

 

References

  1. Migraine Facts. Migraine Research Foundation Website. Accessed June 27, 2020.
  2. Migraine and CBD Oil. American Migraine Foundation Website. Accessed June 27, 2020.
  3. Legal Information by State and Federal Law. Americans for Safe Access Website. Accessed June 27, 2020.
  4. Baron, E.P., Lucas, P., Eades, J. et al. Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort. J Headache Pain 19, 37 (2018). 
  5. Vučković, S. et al. Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules  Frontiers in Pharmacology, 2018
  6. Rhyne, D, etal. Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population. Pharmacotherapy, January 2016.