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CBD vs Prescription Drugs – what does the future hold?

One of the big questions that will be answered over the next few decades is just how many illnesses and conditions cannabidiol (CBD) treatment will replace prescription drugs for. CBD appears to have lots of medical potential for mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, and physical conditions including chronic pain. CBD products are currently sold as dietary supplements, enhancing general wellness by boosting the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Our understanding of CBD’s true therapeutic value, in consideration of its beneficial properties and side effects, compared to existing prescription drugs is set to grow. Demand for high-quality clinical trials is at an all-time high, as CBD consumption across America and around the world goes through the roof. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slowing starting to get its act together. But as of July 2019, the only FDA-approved CBD drug is Epidiolex, an epilepsy treatment made by GW Pharmaceuticals of the United Kingdom.

This post will focus on a few areas where CBD has demonstrated promise as a medicine. We’ll look particularly at fields where current drugs are not up to standard. We’ll look at how CBD could be used, discussing the most suitable forms of administration, and the most effective doses.

Our analysis will look at:

  • CBD’s antipsychotic potential for psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Why CBD may be better than opioids for pain
  • The promise of CBD for anxiety and depression 
  • Cannabis and CBD’s medicinal value for migraines 
  • Why CBD may be a preferable anti-inflammatory drug to NSAIDs

Why it’s vital to seek professional advice 

We get it. You are super excited to try CBD, a derivative of the cannabis plant that doesn’t produce a high. Perhaps your friends have tried it and are having great results. Maybe you’ve been reading up on the medical benefits the cannabinoid has to offer. Are you ready to get in on the growing trend, and try out some of these innovative products yourself?

But if you are planning to start taking CBD alongside – or instead of – you should definitely seek a doctor’s advice first. The drug interactions between CBD and other substances have not been thoroughly studied, and certainly don’t get the attention they should. But there is some evidence that CBD can slow activity in the cytochrome P450 system. This means that CBD interferes with the metabolization of some drugs, affecting how much of the dose becomes active. Typically, this leads to a dosage increase of the prescription drug, even if you are taking the same amount as usual. 

CBD doesn’t affect all drugs in this way, hence why it is perfectly fine to combine CBD hemp oil and other products with your current medication. But you’ll only know for sure if you make contact with your doctor, who can give you the full information related to your situation. And most importantly, they’ll put your mind at rest.

What drugs interact with CBD oil? 

So far, we know that the following drugs interact with CBD oil: steroids, immune modulators, HIV antivirals, calcium channel blockers, prokinetics, antihistamines and benzodiazepines. 

CBD for psychosis and schizophrenia 

Scientific research has found it harder to penetrate the brain and its workings than other organs in the body. Indeed, the human brain is commonly accepted as the most complicated object in the known universe. This has made deciphering the causes and finding safe and suitable treatments for illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia very, very difficult. Moreover, use and abuse of recreational marijuana high in THC has been linked to these disorders.

But with antipsychotics failing to help patients enough, new drugs are necessary. CBD is intriguing because of its moderating role on THC. With both indica and sativa strains of marijuana, the richer the CBD content, the less of an overall high the user receives. It is through this CB1 receptor mechanism that CBD has antipsychotic promise. 

Should CBD treatment mark a new era for psychosis and schizophrenia medicine, it would almost certainly be CBD-infused products only. Any amount of THC would probably have a negative effect due to its psychoactive nature.

CBD for chronic pain 

The United States is just one of many countries around the world where healthcare systems are experiencing serious problems in treating chronic pain. Prescription opioid painkillers have demonstrated analgesic effectiveness, but are held back by side effects and overdose risks. Patients who are put on chronic pain treatment plans often end up having to manage an opioid addiction as well. More than 10,000 Americans die annually from prescription overdoses. It is paramount that researchers find a new painkiller medication. And ideally, one that is equally effective, and crucially much safer.

Cannabis is a natural area of research. Medical marijuana has been used for pain relief by patients in legal states for many years, and cannabis has a painkiller history that dates back millennia. However, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has always been considered the key ingredient to the pain relief provided by marijuana. Its psychoactive properties have rankled with medical professionals, politicians and patients. Anti-marijuana arguments center around how the intoxicating effects can have damaging short and long-term impacts on mental health. The debate, in the context of opioids, on whether the upsides of THC outweigh the downsides for pain relief will continue. But could CBD, a distinctly non-intoxicating cannabinoid, have serious potential as a natural, low-risk painkiller? And if so, could it quickly become adopted widely in the US?

CBD research gives cause for optimism


The evidence is uncertain, but highlights the real need for extensive research. More people are using CBD for pain than anything else, according to a recent survey. However, this does not equate to clinical evidence, and could perhaps be the result of a significant placebo effect. The small studies that have been conducted on CBD and pain are inconclusive, but show some promise, in particular for neuropathic pain. 

Full-spectrum CBD products would likely be best for pain management, as these produce the ‘entourage effect’. This is an interaction between cannabinoids that makes them more therapeutic than if consumed as a single substance. The wide array of CBD products – such as hemp flower, creams, vape juices and edibles – is also exciting. This suggests there are many ways that CBD could be beneficial. Patients may get better results from using two products together (e.g. a cream with a vape juice). 

CBD for anxiety and depression

As explained in the ‘psychosis and schizophrenia’ section, any cannabis-based treatment for mental illness tends to divide opinion. But non-intoxicating CBD must be explored for anxiety and depression. For one, because patients are already taking CBD capsules and other products. But also since existing drugs are showing diminishing returns. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) the primary class of drug for both since the late 1980s, work at a snail’s pace, and some patients receive no benefits. This indicates that simply tweaking serotonin levels doesn’t solve the problem, and perhaps that these illnesses – and depression especially – are even more complex than they appear.

CBD’s popularity for anxiety and depression is backed up by a few studies which show it can have a therapeutic effect. Granted, this is not the same as hard, clinical evidence. But the bar is set low for new drugs. Any CBD treatment that can be shown to work would perhaps be preferable to SSRIs, since there is much less of a problem with side effects. SSRIs are notorious for making users tired, dizzy, nervous and even nauseous. In contrast, sleepiness only seems to occur with CBD after taking a large dose. 

Which CBD products are most effective

Finding the right type of CBD and medication plans that work for patients is the next step. With anxiety, it seems that the more rapidly a treatment kicks in, the better. This brings tincture oils to the fore, and also vape juices and CBD joints for those who are less concerned about the health risks.

For depression, any product will likely have a potent antidepressant effect. Research suggests that one dose can remain effective for several days. It’s possible that full-spectrum CBD is a more valuable antidepressant than CBD-isolate product. Other cannabinoids have shown potential as promoting neurogenesis and reducing inflammation. Tackling neuroinflammation may be critical to dealing with depression.

CBD for migraines 

Migraines are very painful headaches, and make some patients more vulnerable to sound and light. These are the ‘aura’ symptoms that people talk about regarding migraines. Researchers have developed drugs that manage the condition, without nailing down the root cause. However, new studies related to marijuana and hemp propose that the very ECS that cannabis works in could be to blame.

The idea that a dysregulated ECS is responsible for migraines comes under a theory called ‘Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency’. Proponents argue that those who suffer from migraines and certain other illnesses may not be generating the required levels of endocannabinoids to bind with and regulate cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids from hemp and cannabis act as substitutes to endocannabinoids. It’s perfectly feasible that the unique compounds from these plants are essential for treating migraines.

Small investigations have highlighted how cannabis is comparable with current migraine drugs in terms of benefits, and that it outperforms them in regard to side effects. The question is whether a pure non-intoxicating CBD solution is therapeutic in its own right, or if the added influence of THC is vital, or merely helpful.

CBD for inflammatory illnesses 

A future crisis with anti-inflammatory drugs may be looming. Aspirin, ibuprofen and other over-the-counter and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have dominated the market for dealing with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other inflammatory illnesses for decades. But recent reports have questioned just how effective and safe they are, in older patients especially. 

CBD research – and studies on other cannabinoids – have found that anti-inflammatory effects can be produced via the ECS. Cannabinoids nurture the immune system to find balance between pro and anti-inflammatory signals. THC does this by binding to CB2 receptors; CBD is more nuanced in boosting endocannabinoid presence so this role can be fulfilled naturally.

This link between the ECS and the immune system is a recent discovery. Cannabinoid science has historically been stunted due to prohibition. Many of the most important finds regarding CBD have come since that discovery in the early 1990s. With that in mind, it isn’t such a shock that CBD may treat conditions much more efficiently than drugs which have been used for many years do.

Final thoughts  

Various schools of medicine are going to need to pay much closer attention to cannabis and hemp plants going forward. The potential for CBD as a medicine looks enormous. Exactly what mental and physical conditions CBD is great for is, however, not crystal clear. But in 10 to 20 years’ time, it’s quite likely doctors will be prescribing cannabis and non-intoxicating CBD solutions for common ailments, that affect millions of us. 

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Exploring the benefits of CBD oil for migraines

Cannabis supporters have, on many occasions spoken about the medicinal benefits of plant. marijuana has been historically used as a remedy for both mental and physical disorders. It was also used in Western medicine from the mid 19th century until it’s prohibition in the 20th century as a treatment for migraines. Today, migraines affect nearly 40 million Americans.

While cannabis has a long history of use, we know more about the herb today than we ever have done. We are now aware of the cannabinoids in cannabis, and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) where they work their magic. Indeed, the ECS may hold all the clues that we need to develop an efficient, effective and side effect-free remedy for migraines.

In this post, we are going to cover cannabis and migraines in detail, including:

  • How cannabidiol (CBD) oil for migraines works
  • The most therapeutic CBD strains for migraines
  • How CBD capsules and pills can be used to ease migraines
  • The ideal CBD dosage for migraines
  • And ultimately, whether CBD is effective for migraines

The science behind CBD’s therapeutic effect for migraines

Cannabis contains a whopping 113 cannabinoids. We know hardly anything about most of them. But thankfully, our understanding of the two most concentrated cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD is fairly detailed. The former is psychoactive, and not legal everywhere, so will only receive limited attention in this article. The latter, however, is non-intoxicating, and a popular healing solution for inflammation, anxiety, seizures, stress, arthritis and more.

THC works by linking up with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS as a partial agonist. CB1 receptors are abundant in the central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are mostly located in the immune system. CBD is neither an agonist of CB1 nor CB2, but ensures that both function smoothly by regulating them. As an anandamide reuptake inhibitor – anandamide (AEA) is the body’s main endocannabinoid – CBD keeps more of the natural chemical in the body. AEA then acts as a less aggressive treatment to CBD, but similarly, as a CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist.

The view is that both cannabinoids can be complementary to each other. When combined, they produce the ‘entourage effect’, which makes the entire cannabis plant and all of its compounds more effective. While we still need to find out more about all the ways in which cannabinoids interact and influence the ECS, researchers are increasingly confident about the therapeutic value of cannabis, and particularly the benefits of CBD.

Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD)

To understand why CBD for migraines is such a promising concept, we must get stuck into CECD. Systemic ECS issues are now believed to contribute to migraines, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). But why?

The proposed condition was first brought to life by Dr Ethan Russo, a neurologist, in the early 2000s. Since then, he and his team have published several peer-reviewed articles, building on the concept. The only downside is that the legal barriers to studying cannabis has made progress slow. But they have made some crucial discoveries, highlighting the potential cause for the aforementioned conditions with solid evidence. Furthermore, they have shown how the ECS and serotonin system is closely related – anandamide is an agonist of the 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A (serotonin 1A and 2A receptors).

And they have found that regulating the ECS, with compounds like CBD, helps to alleviate symptoms of migraines. Firstly, the horrible ‘aura’ symptoms of migraines which make the patient more sensitive to light and sound may be caused by CB1 receptor dysfunction. These symptoms are perhaps due to an overactive sensory hyperalgesia. CBD manages this by acting therapeutically on the central nervous system, via the ECS.

Migraines and the ECS

Researchers have also identified a connection between migraines and the trigeminovascular system. We know that endocannabinoids have an effect here, and this adds to the narrative that the ECS is heavily implicated in migraines. Some scientists are confident that a CB1 receptor agonist may treat migraines and cluster headaches. They have argued that CBD may be more helpful than THC, due to the latter’s psychoactive properties.

Another study showed that migraine patients have lower levels of AEA, which is caused by a higher rate of AEA hydrolysis. This has led to theories that reduced concentrations of AEA means the patients is more likely to suffer from migraines, due to having a lower pain threshold. Researchers have also argued that with AEA not regulating the trigeminovascular system, this further demonstrates how the body fails to regulate the ECS.

Until more research is conducted on the direct effect of THC and CBD on migraines, it will be difficult to understand the full impact of a problematic ECS. Studies have shown that cannabis treatment can help with migraines, but these haven’t clarified the concentrations of CBD and THC being used. But it’s still promising that cannabis medication appears to cut migraine attacks down by more than half, as found by a newly-published Colorado study.

Best CBD strains for migraines

When we talk strains, we usually mean cannabis that is high in THC. But the growing interest in CBD means that CBD-rich hemp and cannabis is also being cultivated. These are very similar, in a sense, to regular cannabis. They have terpenes, so smell and taste like normal weed. But they also have hardly any THC, but lots of CBD.

The ideal strain for migraines would probably be an indica rather than a sativa. This is because indicas are more relaxing, and better-suited to delivering pain relief. However, there are literally so many strains to choose from, you really need to try them for yourself to get the full picture.

Other CBD products for migraines

There are plenty of other CBD products for migraines worth considering, beyond hemp flower. And there’s more to these products than the fact they aren’t attached to the downsides of smoking.

Vape juices

With vape juices, though, perhaps the main benefit is that they don’t cause the problems that smoking does. But they essentially work in exactly the same way. When an e-liquid is heated, it generates a CBD-rich vapor that is inhaled into the lungs. It then becomes active almost straight away. This rapid reaction is key to dealing with the painful effects of migraines.

CBD concentrates are even more potent than vape juices, but are also consuming mostly by vaping, or dabbing. This richer form of CBD is perfect for really severe migraines, where the patient knows they need strong relief. To make your vape juice stronger, purchase some CBD-isolate crystals and combine them with your vape oil.

CBD hemp oil for migraines  

CBD tinctures for migraines are good for the migraineur who is totally opposed to smoking or vaping. The CBD in the oil becomes effective through a method called sublingual absorption. It’s a healthier way of relieving the chronic pain of migraine headaches. You just take the oil by applying it under the tongue. Then let the blood vessels do the hard work of getting it into the bloodstream.

CBD hemp oil for migraines can be bought in CBD-isolate and full-spectrum form. Isolate products are more limited, as you only get the therapeutic benefits of CBD. Full-spectrum CBD products are more effective as a way to ease migraines. With these, you get a tiny quantity (less than 0.3% of THC), and the rest of the cannabinoids and terpenes in the hemp.

CBD pills for migraines (capsules)

CBD pills have different effects to vape juices, hemp flower and tincture oils due to having a unique pharmacology. The effects are slower, but they last far, far longer than any of the other products. While this is counterproductive for acute migraines, those who experience less intense but prolonged migraines may get better and more economical relief from CBD capsules.

Capsules are slower to work because of the way that the body takes in the CBD oil. The capsule must be digested and broken down before the CBD takes effect. Only then can the CBD oil be released into the rest of the body through the stomach. The gradual effects will not be for everybody, but if you are finding that you have to dose with CBD too regularly, and that this is causing an inconvenience, then CBD pills are worth a go.

CBD dosage for migraines

“How much CBD should I take?” is one of the most difficult questions to answer in the world of CBD. First you must consider what is in your product – is it isolate or full-spectrum? Does it have terpenes, or MCT oil for extra potency? How intense are your symptoms? How does your body respond to CBD treatment.

This makes it impossible to come up with an accurate dosage guide, and suggest how much CBD should be taken right down to the milligram. What really works best is to just experiment with various dosages for yourself.

Unlike other migraine treatments you may have used in the past, where you have to be careful with the dosage because of side effects, CBD is not addictive, and doesn’t have any psychoactive properties. The worst that can happen with a really big dose is that you get very sleepy. For that reason, it’s best to experiment with higher doses in the comfort of your own home first!

Since you have to find out the perfect dosage on your own, it also makes sense to keep a detailed diary on how each dose of CBD affects you. By maintaining a written record on the impact of each dose, the product you were using, and the severity of the migraine, you can begin to dial in on the most advantageous dose. This, in turn, will make your usage of CBD more cost-effective.

Final thought: does CBD work for migraines?

The research on CBD for migraines – and the cannabis plant as a whole – is really promising. After decades of scientists not even finding a definite cause of the condition, we certainly seem to be making progress with studies on the endocannabinoid system and Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency.

Some research proposes that CBD is effective as a solo remedy, others suggest that a balanced mix of CBD and THC may deliver better results. But given that CBD is the preferred option for many users, there are clear signs that it has a therapeutic effect. The whole idea of CECD is that the ECS is dysregulated, and we know that CBD can solve this problem.

There are so many different CBD products to work with when it comes to relieving migraines. Hemp oil can uniquely impact the body to alleviate symptoms through different mechanisms – and this explains why CBD can work where other treatments fail. Have you been using CBD for migraines, and have you picked up any tips? If so, why not share them with us by leaving a comment!