The Truth About CBD For Treating Migraine Headaches
The World Health Organization places migraine as one of the 20 most disabling medical illnesses on the planet. Migraine sufferers are more likely to have depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, other pain conditions and fatigue. People who have a history of experiencing an aura phase (migraine with changes in vision) have been shown to be at an increased risk for stroke and heart attack.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, 36 million Americans, or about 12% of the population, suffer from migraine headaches. 1 in 4 households in America have a member with migraine. Migraine is 3x more common in women than men and affects 30% of women over a lifetime. Although most people with migraine have a few attacks or less per month, 3% of the population have chronic migraine—the presence of at least 15 days of headache each month for at least 6 months.
This is a serious problem that is estimated to cost the U.S. healthcare system over $20 billion each year. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the condition and current migraine treatments are inadequate for dealing with the problem.
CBD: The Great Cannabinoid Hope
As it stands today, there is little research on the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) in treating migraine headaches. However, with anecdotal evidence mounting from an ever-growing number of people who swear by cannabis, researchers are beginning to explore the possibility that the next breakthrough for migraine medication could be closely linked to the endocannabinoid system.
In the medical journal Experimental Neurology, researchers reviewed experimental and clinical data on the link between the ECS system and migraines and concluded that, “Although the exact ECS-dependent mechanisms underlying migraine are not fully understood, the available results strongly suggest that activation of ECS could represent a promising therapeutical tool for reducing both the physiological and inflammatory components of pain that are likely involved in migraine attacks.”
In another study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, researchers found that anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter in the body known as the “bliss molecule”, had an anti-nociceptive (anti-pain) effect on mice with induced sensitivity to migraines. They concluded that a dysfunction of the (ECS) system may contribute to the development of migraine attacks and that pharmacological drugs that can modulate (influence or control) cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 can be useful for the treatment of migraine pain.
This is extremely important because CBD has the proven ability to regulate how much anandamide is in the body.
CBD inhibits the fatty acid amide hydroxylase (FAAH) enzyme which breaks down anandamide. Furthermore, CBD inhibits the deactivation of anandamide which enhances anandamide signaling as well. These actions can increase the availability of anandamide in the extracellular space which allows it to continue producing its anti-pain response.
Of course, specific research needs to be done before jumping to any conclusions. But based on these observations and cannabidiol’s known capabilities, CBD’s mechanism of action as an inhibitor could play an important role in unlocking the mystery of chronic migraines.
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