MIGRAINES ARE A VERY common and often debilitating, painful headache condition that affects some 39 million people in the United States, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. For those who experience them, the quest for relief can be lengthy.
While avoiding triggers and making other lifestyle changes are typically the first line of defense in treating migraines, there are many medications that have helped people cope with them. Still, for some people it’s not enough, and increasingly, people who get migraines are turning to a compound called cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, to ease their aching heads.
Dr. Thinh Vo, director of quality and compliance at Koi CBD, a company that makes CBD products, says that “CBD is one of many cannabinoids, or molecules, produced uniquely by (plants in) the cannabis family. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the primary psychoactive element in marijuana (another name for cannabis), CBD is non-psychoactive – meaning it doesn’t have a strong effect on cognitive brain activity and doesn’t cause the high associated with marijuana.”
Despite these differences, “CBD, like THC, works by interacting with our body’s endocannabinoid system,” which is a “regulatory system made-up of naturally occurring cannabis-like molecules. These endocannabinoids work like neurotransmitters to help maintain homeostasis,” or balance in the body, Vo explains. “Cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, interact with the endocannabinoid system,” and CBD “encourages the body to produce more of its own endocannabinoids,” which some patients report helps reduce anxiety, pain and inflammation.
Dr. Jordan Tishler, a member of the medical advisory board for cannabisMD and president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, says that there are upwards of 100 chemicals in cannabis, and THC and CBD are just two of them. “Frankly, CBD hasn’t been researched nearly as much as THC,” he says. Some of that is related to the fact that cannabis, the plant from which both CBD and THC derive, has long been illegal across the U.S., and much of the funding for new medicines comes from the federal government.