How Hemp Oil Relieved My Headaches

African American woman holding her temples due to a bad headache and a bottle of CBD oil i
Ouch. This hurts.

Hemp/CBD oil has been hailed as a pain-reliever. Ever since the age of ten, I have suffered from headaches. I always remember overhearing my dad say to my mother, "A ten-year-old boy has no business with headaches.

They have always been tension headaches, but particularly at that early age, I needed to go into a quiet, darkened room for it to go away, as well as taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). In that sense, they were as severe as a migraine but I never had any of the other symptoms such as nausea or vision changes or other neurological phenomena.

Diagram of the stages of migraine suffered by the cartoon figure holding her aching head
That pounding migraine headache!

But the fact that these headaches were disabling (more like migraine) was undeniable. They continued through my teen years all the way into adulthood. For decades, my remedy was pretty much standard: take 400 mg ibuprofen (brand names Motrin, etc.) and go to sleep for 1-2 hours. On waking up, I feel just fine.

What brings on the headache is usually pretty clear: traffic jams, stressful/tense day at the job, and going without a meal for more than 4-6 hours. In this way, the headaches are more compatible with tension headaches. There are also mixed headaches, which I also considered a possibility. To test this, I tried a few of the newer migraine treatments like eletriptan. There was zero response. Zilch. This may not rule out some element of migraine, but I believe that even if there is, it's not the major contributor.

A diagram showing the differences in location in the head of sinus, cluster, tension, and migraine headaches
The different types of headache

At any rate, I get a headache every day, which makes it Chronic Daily Headache (CDH). This is not so much a type of headache as it is a description of its frequency. One big problem with CDH is that the over-the-counter treatments we take may cause short-term relief, they may overall make the headaches worse because of medication overuse headache (MOH) or rebound headache. For me, the worst offender in this regard is acetaminophen, in my medical opinion one of the worst medications around. With acetaminophen, my rebound headache is more severe than the original.

CBD for headache

Since I was taking up to 400 mg of ibuprofen three times a day, I was logically eager to try an alternative because NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, and renal insufficiency. So, why not try CBD?

Of course, the question is, can hemp/CBD oil be used for headaches? As with much of cannabis research, indications from small studies are that it might well reduce the frequency or intensity of headaches of all types except perhaps the cluster variety. So, it's not unreasonable to try cannabis for headaches in general. The trouble is, there's been no established suggested dose in the same way I know that 200-400 mg of ibuprofen is "my" dose.

What I was doing wrong

At first I tried taking 15-45 mg of CBD oil every time my headache hit. This did not work even a little bit. I also tried a 1:1 CBD:THC edible, which for some reason actually made the headache worse. Then I realized that CBD may need to saturate the pain receptors to provide relief. Taking one dose after the onset of the headache is obviously not going to work in that case.

My trial and results

For a good month, I took 45 mg of Mystic Mint Edible Calm three times a day in my coffee (it tastes really good) or just by itself. One evening, I realized I hadn't taken any ibuprofen for the whole day. I didn't want to be over-exuberant, so I waited to see for some more days. At that dose, the intensity of the headaches definitely decreased, but not really the frequency, because they still come every day. But it was clear that I was able to take half my usual dose of 400 mg ibuprofen and instead of 3-4 times a day, it was more like once or twice.

Next steps

I plan to try a higher dosage of CBD by using a higher concentration, so I don't run through the bottle so fast. If it works even better, then Edible Calm will stock a higher concentration of the tincture. It's easier to increase the amount of CBD in the tincture than in say, a gummy. I will keep you posted!

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