Medical marijuana in Canada is an exciting and rapidly growing industry. Since legalization, more Canadians are gaining access to the potential medical benefits of cannabis. Those suffering from chronic pain, recovering from injuries, or receiving chemotherapy can all benefit from the pain-relieving properties of medical marijuana.
CBD oil, and other cannabis products, are increasingly being used to treat migraines too. There’s a slowly growing body of evidence that suggests it could be very beneficial. As all sufferers will know, migraines are no joke. And any safe product that can offer relief is an exciting prospect.
So if you’re considering using CBD oil to treat a migraine, here’s what we know (and don’t know) about how it works.
What Is a Migraine?
A migraine is a severe headache that can last between 4 and 72 hours. Most migraine-sufferers experience a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light are also common side effects. As you can imagine, these symptoms can really disrupt your daily activities.
Many people start to experience migraines in childhood, and continue to suffer from them throughout their lives. They can be triggered by certain foods or drinks, hormonal changes, stress, or even changes to the weather.
Traditional Migraine Treatments
There’s a wide range of medications available on the market to treat the symptoms of a migraine. However, not all of them are suitable for everyone (for example, if you have high blood pressure or are at risk of stroke). And some have side effects that many patients don’t want to risk.
Opioids are sometimes used to treat severe migraines – but as we know, opioids are extremely addictive. Even over-the-counter drugs, like aspirin and ibuprofen, can be damaging to your stomach and liver if taken for long periods of time. It’s no wonder then, that CBD oil has begun to emerge as a promising treatment for migraines.
Can CBD Oil Improve Migraine Symptoms?
Over the last few years, medical marijuana in Canada and elsewhere has grown more and more popular. However, often the scientific research lags behind the anecdotal evidence – and the same is true for using CBD oil to treat migraines.
However, there are some studies that suggest medical marijuana can help lessen the pain and severity of migraines. For example, this research paper from 2016 showed that migraine frequency reduced from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month with use of medical marijuana. And this study found that many patients were able to replace prescription opioids with medical marijuana.
How Does Cannabis Affect our Bodies?
So how does it work? All cannabis affects our body by interacting with our endocannabinoid system. This group of receptors, found throughout our body, was only discovered fairly recently, and still isn’t very well understood. We have cannabinoid receptors in our brains, immune system, and our nervous system.
Cannabis contains chemicals called cannabinoids that are similar to natural chemicals in our body. When we ingest these cannabinoids, they interact with our endocannabinoid system, changing the sensations we feel.
How Can CBD Treat a Migraine?
CBD (or cannabidiol) is one of the most common cannabinoids found in most strains of marijuana. Scientists don’t yet know exactly how it interacts with our cannabinoid system. But we do know it has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects throughout the body. It’s also worth noting that CBD isn’t psychoactive – which means it won’t doesn’t get you high.
So, although we don’t know for sure, it seems those anti-inflammatory and pain-relief properties of CBD could help treat migraines. There’s a lot more research needed here. But the good news is, CBD oil has very few side effects, so it’s okay to try it out and see if it works to relieve your migraine symptoms.
How To Use Cannabis to Treat Migraines
There are lots of different ways to use cannabis to treat migraines. Smoking, vaping, edibles, and CBD oil will all have similar effects. Which method you choose will depend on your personal preferences, tolerance, and migraine symptoms. A few things to consider are:
1. THC vs CBD
CBD is known for its pain relieving properties, and like we mentioned, isn’t psychoactive. THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) is the other most common cannabinoid in weed. It is psychoactive, so any product with THC will get you high.
It also has additional pain relieving effects, so you might want to experiment with different strains to find the right mix for you. Bear in mind though, that if you want to relieve migraine symptoms and go about your daily life, a CBD-dominant product (like CBD oil or CBD edibles) might be better for you.
2. Method of Consumption
Some medical marijuana patients in Canada prefer smoking or vaping. These methods provide more instant relief. They also typically involve consuming dried cannabis flower, which can have a full cannabinoid profile and therefore potentially a more potent effect.
Others prefer edibles or oils that dissolve under your tongue. These methods can take a while to have an effect, but it can be easier to manage your dose than with smoking. This is especially true in Canada, where medical marijuana is regulated by Health Canada, so you can be sure that the dose on the packet is what you’ll receive.
Because using medical marijuana to treat headaches isn’t well understood, there’s no clear guidance on dosage. The right dose for you will depend on your tolerance, familiarity with CBD products, and your natural body chemistry. We’d recommend starting small and working up from there.
4. Side Effects
There are very few known side effects of CBD oil or edibles when used for medical marijuana. Especially compared to over over-the-counter and prescription drugs, CBD is safe and has limited side-effects. Some people do experience nausea and drowsiness though.
And of course, if you take too much, you could experience “greening out”. While not particularly dangerous, it can be an unpleasant experience – so, like we said, start small.
CBD Migraine Treatment: Cause for Optimism
If you’ve suffered from migraines throughout your life, any potential new treatment is a cause for excitement. And CBD oil is especially exciting because it is safe, has few side effects, and is easily accessible throughout Canada. Medical marijuana is now safely available online, so you can experiment with finding the right product and dose to ease the pain of regular migraines, and get back to regular li