If cannabinoids for migraine sufferers produced relief, how would it work? The human body produces its own cannabinoids within our nervous system as well as our immune system. Together with the cannabinoid receptors, they make the endocannabinoid system. This regulates many processes in the body, such as blood vessel dilation (which in turn causes or abates, inflammation.) When cannabinoids interact with their receptors, they reduce blood vessel dilation, which is important in migraines because the expansion of blood vessels in an area with no extra space (i.e. the brain) creates pressure, and therefore pain.
The endocannabinoid receptors known as CB1 receptors are also present in higher than usual levels in an area of the brain strongly associated with migraines. While our own cannabinoids regulate our bodies in ways that prevent migraines, levels of one kind of cannabinoid have been found to be lower in people who suffer from migraines. Also, women with migraines may have higher levels of the enzyme that degrades this.
Cannabinoids may help reduce Glutamate
Cannabinoids such as CBD may also directly relieve the pain seen in migraines. The stimulating neurotransmitter known as glutamate is responsible for the secondary and tertiary (horrible) pain in both migraines and fibromyalgia, but cannabinoids can block the release of glutamate from nerve cells. Cannabinoids may also stabilize the platelets responsible for blood clots and inhibit serotonin release, which in excess can amplify pain.
Hemp medicine has a long history
Although the scientific evidence behind the use of hemp and cannabinoids for migraines is largely from lab studies, hemp medicines have a long history in migraine treatment. Dr Clendinning in London was the first Western physician to prescribe cannabis (which had a much lower THC content back then) for migraines in the 1840s. In the 1870s, another doctor, Dr R. Greene, was recommending daily doses of cannabis to prevent migraines. In 1890, Sir John Russell Reynolds, physician to the British royal family, highlighted migraines as an indication for the prescription of cannabis in a review of his 30 years of clinical experience.
In more modern times, a case was reported where a patient suffering from migraines found relief in small doses of smoked cannabis, after failing conventional therapies. The author had previously encountered multiple patients with migraines who had failed pharmaceutical drugs, but responded positively to cannabis. Other case reports described patients finding relief from other types of chronic headache. Overall, the evidence behind using CBD-rich hemp oil to manage migraines needs clinical trials, but laboratory studies, historical use and case reports do show a potential benefit.
On the other side of this, there are other reasons for migraine occurrence. Magnesium deficiency along with B vitamin deficiency, hormones dysregulation, food sensitivities. We must explore these scenarios as well. I had a wonderful conversation (as I usually do) with someone who came in for CBD oil the other day, and we agreed though we make take CBD for one specific known reason now…. cancer, pain, intestinal distress…. we know that it is working through the system on other general health issues that may not even be being addressed. I’m a big believer.
Has had Hashimoto's for 13 years. I am passionate, I live and breathe, helping you to overcome your struggles with weight, stress, and chronic health issues.