CBD Oil for cluster headache5 October 2022
Cluster headaches represent a condition known to cause some of the worst pain human beings can endure. There is a reason why people also call it ‘suicide headache’. This exceptionally severe form of headache comes in regular waves, also called ‘clusters’. Treatment is difficult, and existing treatments do not work for everyone. This blog explores the potential of CBD Oil to help treat cluster headaches.
What is a cluster headache?
People suffering from cluster headaches face some of the most intense and debilitating types of headache known to exist. The precise causes are still unclear, making adequate treatment a complicated affair. The pain involved in cluster headache is excruciating. Episodes can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours on end. The pain usually concentrates in one hemisphere of the brain, but cases have been described in which the pain shifts from one half of the head to the other. The condition owes its name to the fact that episodes tend to come in clusters spanning periods that last for weeks or months.
A cluster headache tends to start without warning. This makes them different from migraine, which often comes with set signals to warn patients of impending episodes. . The defining symptom of cluster headaches, however, is the extreme levels of pain that generally focus around the eye on one side of the head. If left untreated, cluster headaches can occur between one and fifteen times every 48 hours.
Episodes usually coincide with slack eyelids, contracted pupils, runny nose, watery eyes, and redness of the retina. Sweating is also quite common, as are blushing and swelling of the face. These additional symptoms can occur in any possible combination. Most importantly, however, cluster headaches are incredibly painful, which is how the condition earned the nickname of ‘suicide headache’.
Although pain is never pleasant, the pain people suffering from cluster headaches experience is almost impossible to describe. The pain can be so searing that patients compare the experience to having a red hot poker driven into their eye sockets, or feeling as if a nail is hammered into the top of their skull. The pain concentrates around the eye, btu it can radiate outwards to the neck and shoulders. The pain is much more severe than any pain experienced in other types of headaches, including even migraines. This may quite possibly be he most painful condition known to medical science.
Cluster headaches are so intense that they render people incapable of anything but lying in bed and hoping the pain will end soon. Regular pain medication is not effective, although certain specific drugs can be prescribed with varying degrees of success. At present, CBD Oil is regarded as a potential new treatment for cluster headache, however. We will try to explore some of the causes of cluster headache first in order to explain how CBD Oil could prove useful as a natural source of relief.
What causes cluster headaches?
Cluster headaches are considered a form of vascular disease. One of the causes of the bone-shattering pain they bring is the expansion of blood vessels, which puts pressure on the nervus trigeminus (triplet nerve). Although this offers a direct explanation for the pain experienced, it does not clarify its ultimate origins.
There are other theories about the causes of cluster headache. Australian cluster headache expert Dr. Goadsby, for instance, is convinced that the condition is triggered by deviations in the hypothalamus, an important structure of the brain. His theory is supported by the observation that symptoms arise with clockwork regularity, and often tend to peak in specific seasons. After all, the hypothalamus is closely involved in the regulation of our circadian rhythm and sleep cycles.
The hypothalamus responds to light, scent, and impulses from the heart, stomach, and reproductive organs. Hormones play a part as well, including corticosteroids, thyroid hormones, digestive hormones including ghrelin and leptin, and cytokines. Stress can have an impact, too. Every single one of these triggers can cause the onset of a cluster headache.
The potential causes described above are the reason why CBD Oil is regarded as a promising means to treat cluster headache. CBD is capable of influencing several of these triggers, including hormonal balance, inflammatory processes, and blood pressure, in addition to its own analgesic properties that offer pain relief. This is due to CBD’s ability to interact with our body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS), which governs our internal physiological balance (homeostasis). By influencing the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS found all throughout the body, CBD Oil can regulate many of the processes mentioned above, which could each prove useful in treating cluster headache symptoms.
Could CBD Oil help treat cluster headache?
Patients suffering from cluster headaches are usually given painkillers, but their effectiveness varies wildly. Calcium channel blockers are a common prescription, as are steroids. Treatment focuses on stopping episodes in their tracks, as well as on general reduction of the frequency of episodes.
We do know, however, that cannabinoids such as CBD, administered as oil or other supplements, can have positive effects on cluster headache, too. These natural compounds affect areas of the brain that are also involved in controlling migraine headaches. The body’s own neurotransmitter anandamide is involved in the regulation of pain impulses throughout the central nervous system, and since CBD Oil can affect anandamide production, this could account for some of its effectiveness in controlling cluster headache symptoms.
In spite of its promising potential and increasing scientific interest, however, few studies have so far been conducted to identify just how CBD Oil can help treat cluster headache. We do know, however, that CBD as well as several other cannabinoids can be useful in treating various other headache-related disorders. Some evidence suggests that CBD Oil taken together with THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis plants, could prove even more effective in treating cluster headache than CBD alone.
Studying CBD Oil and cluster headache symptoms
In 2017, Italian physician and researcher Nicolodi presented the results of a study exploring the effectiveness of CBD and THC on headache disorders. During the first stage of the trial, 48 chronic migraine patients received a mixture of CBD and THC. Although dosages below 100mg proved ineffective, raising the amount of cannabinoids to 200mg turned out to relieve pain experienced by 55%.
The second stage of the study involved cluster headache patients as well, and the results carry interesting implications for anyone considering CBD Oil as a natural source of relief. A total of 48 patients each received either a daily dose of a THC and CBD mixture (220mg) or 480mg of a calcium channel blocker. Whenever they experienced acute episodes of pain, they received another 200mg of the THC-CBD mixture. The trial lasted for three months in total.
The results for migraine patients were excellent: the THC and CBD mixture proved just as effective in preventing migraine episodes as calcium channel blockers, reducing their frequency by 40%. On top of this, the CBD and THC treatment helped relieve the pain experienced throughout the trial. In terms of the potential of CBD Oil, the results among the cluster headache patients varied. Some reported only minor reductions of pain and frequency of episodes. Others, however, reported pain reductions of 43.5%.
We have to keep in mind that these are preliminary studies intended to explore the potential of CBD Oil alongside other compounds for treating cluster headache. Further research is needed to pinpoint the exact mechanisms that explain how cluster headaches arise, as well as to see how CBD could help offer effective treatment for this debilitating condition. Still, the initial results are promising to say the least; and that could be a first step on the way to stopping cluster headache by natural means such as CBD Oil supplements.
Can you treat cluster headache with CBD Oil at home?
Regardless of the slow pace at which clinical research progresses, anyone suffering from the excruciating pain caused by cluster headache will wonder if CBD could prove effective for their symptoms today. Unfortunately, for the time being at least, we cannot prove conclusively whether CBD Oil is a natural cure for cluster headache. We will have to rely on the available anecdotal evidence provided by patients who have tried it for themselves until we know more.
These personal experiences are a source of hope and inspiration to many, however. Some people report serious reductions of both the intensity and the frequency of cluster headache episodes after they started taking CBD Oil. That alone could make this plant-based hemp oil supplement worth a try. CBD is a natural hemp compound deemed safe to use by even the WHO, including long-term use. Side-effects are minimal if they occur in the first place. Moreover, contrary to what some people believe, you cannot get ‘high’ from CBD, since it is a non-psychoactive compound.
We do advise anyone tempted to try CBD Oil for cluster headache to consult their doctor first, however; especially when already using certain types of regular medication including antidepressants. CBD is known to interact with certain prescription drugs, which could alter their effectiveness.
What’s best for cluster headache: CBD Oil or Tablets?
Although we have so far discussed the potential of CBD Oil for treatment of cluster headache symptoms, other CBD supplements could offer similar potential. Take our CBD Tablets for instance, which are easy to bring along wherever you go and can be used without water. Since they are more practical to use than CBD Oil, these could be the perfect supplement to carry with you just in case cluster headache symptoms catch you by surprise.
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