Are Migraines Caused by a Cannabinoid Deficiency?

As of right now, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana, and 10 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Although cannabis has literally been used in a medical capacity for thousands of years, it wasn’t until recently that we have begun to understand just how beneficial it can be.

Cannabis sativa is a plant that grows year-round in many different climates. While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has long been revered for its psychoactive properties, cannabis sativa is actually comprised of more than 500 compounds and 113 cannabinoids. In addition to THC, the plant also produces cannabidiol – or CBD, which is one of the hundred-plus cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are extremely diverse compounds that trigger your brain and body’s large network of cannabinoid receptors. One of the most beneficial properties of cannabinoids is their ability to affect a person’s pain threshold.

Enter: Cannabinoids for migraines. I discussed how cannabis may serve as a healthy way to treat migraines in a previous post, so today I would like to look at how a cannabinoid deficiency may increase your likelihood of getting migraines.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are separated into three different classes: phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids. For my purpose today, I am going to focus on endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are produced by the body’s natural biological process and are identified as:

  • Anandamide(AEA)
  • 2-arachidonoylglycerol(2-AG)
  • Virodhamine
  • N-arachidonoyldopamine (NADA)
  • Noladinether (2-arachidonyl glyceryl ether)

It’s okay if you can’t pronounce those. The biggest reason for listing them is just to make them recognizable, as I think we’ll be seeing a lot more about this research in the years to come. 

These compounds have the ability to bind to the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors, which are found in the central nervous system, reproductive organs, skin, and digestive system. When this happens, it can have a very positive effect on the body and physiological state. Here are some of the ways cannabinoids benefit the body:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Increase energy
  • Improve memory and learning 
  • Regulate emotions

How a Cannabinoid Deficiency Could Cause Migraines

For the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to work as it should, the body must naturally produce its own endocannabinoids (such as those mentioned above). However, this isn’t always the case. Research shows that some people may actually be deficient in endocannabinoids, leading to a wide range of health conditions, including migraines, anxiety, and depression.

Studies conducted in 2001and 2004 discovered, people with differing levels of anandamide – one of the most commonly found endocannabinoids in the body – may be more prone to migraines than others. This is where the theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CED) was first introduced.

If the theory holds, people with altered endocannabinoid function have a lower threshold for pain, which could explain the presence of migraines.

How Do I Increase Endocannabinoid Levels?

So, if you learn that you do, in fact, have an endocannabinoid deficiency that is causing your migraines, what can you do? Researchers have found that increasing cannabinoid levels in people with CED may actually reduce many of the symptoms caused by this deficiency. There are various ways to do this, such as taking CBD. CBD is a super-hot topic right now, as you may or may not have noticed. One of the biggest perks? It won’t get you “high.”  In fact, CBD can actually counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.

Not only will CBD not get you “stoned,” but it has been proven to treat numerous conditions, such as:

  • Migraines
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Multiplesclerosis
  • Chronicpain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammation

This discovery of CED is relatively new, and we still have a lot to learn. That being said, the research I have seen is very promising and is giving us insight as to why some people may get migraines more than others and why many regimens just don’t work.  Let’s keep our eyes and ears open for more information on this topic. 

Sources:

Ministry of Hemp: Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered

Medical Jane – Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency