Headaches can be annoying, inconvenient, and painful. A typical treatment option for headaches is strong over-the-counter painkillers. However, some people are moving away from traditional medications in favour of more natural alternatives.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has come up as a safe and well-tolerated headache treatment option, popular by many for its fast-acting benefits and minimal side effects.
CBD oil and headaches
Many headache sufferers are curious about new treatments that are effective yet gentle enough for everyday use. CBD oil has recently grown in popularity as more New Zealanders begin seeking natural alternatives to traditional medication.
Part of CBD oil’s booming success is its wide-ranging therapeutic effects. One of the most common uses of CBD oil is pain management across many areas of the body, including for headaches.
Migraines are characterised by their numerous symptoms. These include light and sound sensitivity, an intense pulsing pain, and feelings of nausea. While many factors can contribute to migraines, common ones are dehydration and a disrupted sleep schedule.
Research has linked CBD to easing many of the symptoms of migraines, including nausea and pain. A 2011 study suggested that CBD can ease nausea due to its interaction with serotonin receptors.
One of the key ways to control nausea symptoms is to regulate serotonin binding to receptors in the brain and GI tract. Since CBD can interact with these receptors, this can result in lowered feelings of nausea, helping you remain vomit-free for longer!
It has also been long acknowledged that CBD’s calming and soothing effects make it a good sleep aid. CBD can interact with cell-signalling processes within your body to slow heart rate and even decrease stress and anxiety feelings.
Getting better sleep is a win-win, as it means you’re well-rested for the day, while decreasing your likelihood of developing migraines.
Cluster headaches are often associated with a burning sensation and extreme pain. While doctors still aren’t exactly sure of the causes of cluster headaches, it is known that correctly treating symptoms is extremely important.
Researchers found moderate yet effective benefits in cluster headache duration and severity amongst those who regularly took CBD. Key markers of headaches, like inflammation and pain output, were also measured and shown to improve slightly. As a bonus, minimal side effects were observed after prolonged CBD use.
While research is promising regarding CBD’s treatment of cluster headaches, other studies had also looked at improved pain relief when CBD was combined with THC.
THC is another cannabinoid in cannabis, and the interaction of CBD with THC is known to improve the effects of both cannabinoids, working in a synergistic fashion.
Chronic headaches are a type of primary headache, meaning the headache isn’t being triggered by anything else but the pain in the head. Chronic headaches are consistent, often occurring and lasting for days at one time. This can severely affect the individual’s quality of life, so a pain management treatment plan is often necessary.
Researchers have long linked CBD use to decreased pain output, especially in cases of chronic pain. A recent 2020 review reported that CBD use had benefits in relieving bouts of chronic pain while also reducing inflammation levels.
Similarly, another recent study concluded that there was substantial proof that CBD was an effective chronic pain treatment in adults due to reduced feelings of pain across the board.
It was also found that subjects who used CBD were unlikely to build a tolerance to the effects of CBD, therefore taking out the need to increase the dosage over time! Because it is common to build a tolerance to traditional painkillers, this is a great relief to anyone looking to use CBD long term for chronic headaches.
How does CBD help headaches?
Within the body lies a biological system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is primarily composed of endocannabinoids, which bind to cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found throughout the nervous system, especially in the pain-processing area of the brain.
Endocannabinoids have been shown to target similar pathways to traditional headache and migraine medications. This supports the theory that cannabinoids like CBD can treat headaches since they interact with the ECS in similar ways to endocannabinoids.
How to use CBD oil for headaches
While trying out CBD oil for the first time can seem quite intimidating, it is straightforward. CBD oils come in many forms, including tinctures, capsules, and creams (for topical application). Choosing what form you would like to take CBD in depends on your preference and how severe your headaches are.
An excellent way to take CBD oil is sublingually. Sublingual means “under the tongue,” so, as the name suggests, drops of CBD oil are placed on the delicate area under the tongue. This increases the rate at which the CBD gets absorbed into the bloodstream, enhancing effectiveness.
Before trying CBD for the first time, it pays to see your doctor. They will assess the severity of your headaches and whether CBD oil is the best option for you.
CBD side effects
Generally, CBD should be well-tolerated by many. However, individual body composition and needs mean minimal side effects can also occur. These include dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and changes in appetite.
Side effects can be minimised by choosing good quality CBD products over cheaper and less reliable options. Higher-quality CBD products are often more expensive but are quality-tested for any contaminants that may be present.
The result? A more effective CBD product without any additional side effects.
The bottom line
CBD can be used to ease the symptoms of many types of headaches, including migraines, cluster headaches, and chronic bouts. While headaches can come in many forms, the symptoms experienced are often similar and extremely painful.
As the correct dosage of CBD will vary depending on individual body composition and headache severity, talk to your doctor before self-dosing.