One of the most common nervous system disorders, headache disorder affects up to half of the global adult population. Headache disorders are broken down into several categories, including migraine headache, cluster headache, and tension-type headaches. The most common type of headache among adults is referred to as a medication-overuse headache. About 4% of global adults will be diagnosed with chronic migraines; a painful and debilitating condition that is also hard to treat and results in billions of dollars in lost economic activity per year.
For people with headache disorders, finding relief can seem elusive. Everyone registers pain differently, and headache triggers can vary drastically from one patient to the next. As the CBD and medical marijuana industries have grown, more and more consumers are turning to CBD products, touted as miracle supplements and “cure-alls.” But no supplement is a cure-all. When it comes to CBD, this compound can reduce headaches in some people, while increasing the risk of headaches in others. For consumers who need to treat headache disorder, it’s critical to know precisely how CBD products impact head pain.
What causes headaches?
Headaches can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender. As one of the most common medical complaints, everyone will experience a headache at least once in their life. Headaches can occur as an isolated incident, or as a symptom of a more significant health issue.
Headaches are typically categorized as either primary or secondary headaches. A primary headache is head pain that is isolated and not indicative of an underlying condition. Secondary headaches are a symptom of another issue.
In most cases, primary headaches happen because certain structures in a person’s head are abnormal and pain sensitive. These structures can often be over-reactive, resulting in random pain that varies in duration and intensity. Nerves in the head, blood vessels, and muscles in the head and neck can cause a primary headache. Chemical or neurological changes in the brain can also result in primary headaches.
Secondary headaches can often indicate a serious underlying issue. This type of headache occurs when a primary condition stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves and neurons in the head. A variety of different health issues or circumstances can cause a painful secondary headache, some more serious than others.
Contributing Health Issues
- Medication overuse (rebound headaches)
- Alcoholic hangovers
- “Brain freeze” from drinking or eating frozen food
- Blood clots
- Brain tumors
- Brain bleeding
- CO2 poisoning
- Teeth grinding and jaw clenching
- Viral or bacterial infections (influenza)
- Anxiety and panic attacks
Since secondary headaches can be a sign of a severe and life-threatening condition, it’s critical that people speak to a doctor or clinician before a headache becomes persistent or severe. A headache disorder that becomes more painful and debilitating than prior headaches, or does not respond to medication and is accompanied by other distressing symptoms, warrants medical attention. Confusion, stiffness in the neck, and sensory changes accompanied by a headache require a doctor.
Fortunately, the vast majority of headaches are not indicative of a life-threatening problem. Most headaches, both primary and secondary, will decrease and go away on their own or with OTC medication, rest, and hydration. In some cases, CBD can be used to treat headache pain, but it can also trigger headaches in certain situations.
Can CBD Cause Headaches?
However, adverse side effects of CBD are often linked to issues of purity. CBD products are considered supplements and aren’t regulated by the FDA or subject to stringent manufacturing and processing guidelines. Purchasing cheap or suspect CBD can mean several things. For one, CBD derives from the hemp plant. Some less-than-reputable manufacturers may use a lot of pesticides or chemicals to grow and process their plants into CBD products. It’s also possible that a cheap manufacturer would use highly processed carrier oils that can also have pollutants and other contaminants in them.
The hemp plant is a very hardy and robust plant that is efficient at absorbing nutrients in the soil, air, and water around it. Manufacturers and farmers that use a lot of chemicals and pesticides can severely contaminate the plant. Unfortunately, the final CBD product extracted from a polluted plant ends up getting consumed by the user. These impurities could cause issues in sensitive people. Plus, taking CBD that is high in pollutants can make the product less beneficial or even counteract some of the therapeutic effects of CBD. For consumers, it’s critical that they look for a company that’s pure, safe, clearly labeled, and independently tested.
Does CBD help with migraines?
CBD will not directly prevent or stop a migraine headache. Instead, CBD can indirectly help people with migraine disorder by targeting and alleviating certain triggers. Muscle tension and anxiety and stress are common migraine triggers. CBD oils and CBD creams can alleviate these issues and prevent a migraine from occurring.
Is it possible to use too much CBD?
CBD is non-toxic, and it’s not possible to overdose on CBD. The common side effects people get with CBD are often linked to dosing issues. The body needs time to process CBD, so it’s best for newbie CBD users to start off with a low dose before gradually increasing the dose as needed.
Where can someone find CBD products for headache prevention?
It’s easiest for consumers to find high-quality CBD online and have it shipped to them. Although it’s possible for consumers to find quality CBD at a dispensary near them, not everyone has access to a store that sells CBD products from reputable companies.
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