Most people will be familiar with the occasional mild headache. But for sufferers of more severe migraines or cluster headaches they can be severe and life altering. And with a wide range of possible treatments, but no guaranteed cures, it’s not surprising more and more people are looking at CBD for a chronic migraine and cluster headaches.
Migraines are common, affecting roughly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men in the UK. Cluster headaches are thankfully rarer, and tend to occur more for men, in their 30s and 40s.
What causes migraines and cluster headaches?
The exact causes of both migraines and cluster headaches are currently unknown. Migraines are suspected to be the result of changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain. Cluster headaches are linked to increased activity in the hypothalamus part of the brain.
Migraine and cluster headache sufferers often have a close relative who also has the condition, suggesting that there may be a genetic link in making people more susceptible. And smokers also tend to run a higher risk.
Specific periods of attacks tend to be associated with migraine triggers. These can include stress, tiredness, particular food or drink, strong smells, or for women, starting your period (also known as hormone headaches or menstrual migraines).
Cluster headaches also tend to occur at the same time each day, often at similar times of the year.
There are different types of migraine headaches, but they are generally categorised as a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head, often accompanied by feeling sick, vomiting or increased sensitivity to light or sound. A cluster headache is a sharp, chronic pain often felt around the eye, temple and sometimes face on one side of the head.
Common migraine symptomsThe most common types of headaches are associated with tension, and most people will be familiar with a constant aching on both sides of the head, tighter neck muscles and a feeling of pressure between the eyes. These can also be brought on due to the cold or flu, dehydration, not eating regular meals or overindulging in alcohol, and tend to be mild enough that they don’t stop you doing everyday activities.
Migraines are more severe, and can mean some people are confined to their bed for days at a time. There are various types including:
- migraine with aura – where there are specific warning signs just before the migraine begins, such as seeing flashing lights
- migraine without aura – the most common type, where the migraine happens without the specific warning signs
- migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine – where an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache does not develop
If you suffer from frequent or severe migraine symptoms, you should see a GP.Cluster headaches start without warning, with an acute pain akin to a sharp, burning or piercing sensation on one side of the head. Attacks can last between 15 minutes and 3 hours, occurring between 1 and 8 times a day. Often accompanied by:
- a red and watering eye
- drooping and swelling of 1 eyelid
- a smaller pupil in 1 eye
- a sweaty face
- a blocked or runny nostril
Is CBD good for migraines and cluster headaches?
There are currently no absolute medical cures for migraines and cluster headaches, but treatments to prevent attacks and relieve symptoms range from over-the-counter painkillers for migraines, to injections and electrical nerve stimulation for cluster headaches.
Prevention methods include a generally healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and tiredness, quitting smoking, and medication in the case of cluster headaches.
Currently there are relatively few studies looking at the role of CBD for migraines and cluster headaches. One study looked at cannabinoids as “Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population” (link)
The studies that do exist suggest that CBD may help to relieve the pain of migraines and cluster headaches. For example, “Medicinal Properties of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids in Cannabis, and Benefits in Migraine, Headache, and Pain: An Update on Current Evidence and Cannabis Science” (link), “The Use of Cannabis for Headache Disorders” (link), and “Emerging Role of (Endo) Cannabinoids in Migraine” (link).
Many migraine and cluster headache treatments focus on prevention, rather than pain relief. And this is where CBD could be beneficial as part of general well being to reduce causes of headaches including stress, anxiety and tiredness.
How to take CBD for migraine attacks and cluster headaches
There are a variety of ways to integrate CBD into your general daily routine, and the most common are either as a CBD Oil, or CBD Capsules. Both are quick and simple ways to see if CBD is the right choice for you, although we’d always recommend checking with your doctor before taking any supplement, especially if you’re already on any medication.
Anyone starting out with CBD should begin with a low dose to allow your Endocannabinoid system to be introduced to your new routine. So you might begin with the 4% Full Spectrum CBD Oil for a time before moving to our 8% or 15% options if required.
CBD Oil is taken orally, with 1 to 3 drops twice a day dropped under your tongue and held there for a minute before swallowing.
If you prefer, CBD Capsules are also available, and our 1.5% capsules are vegan friendly, and infused with Turmeric and Black Pepper.
Useful migraines/cluster headaches links
- The Migraine Trust
- The National Migraine Centre
- British Association for the Study of Headache
- Organisation for the Understanding of Cluster Headache
Ultimately CBD is not a cure for migraines and cluster headaches. But the potential benefits of CBD taken for general well being might contribute to less frequent attacks and relieve pain during bouts of headaches.If you found this guide helpful and want to research other related guides to CBD, you might find our other articles useful, including: