Nearly 75 percent of Americans suffer from tension headaches which are most often treated with a range of pharmaceuticals, sometimes more than one at once. Though these over-the-counter or prescription drugs can be effective, more and more patients are asking about natural remedies to offset the harmful effects of these drugs — and one solution may be cannabis.
Medical science still hasn’t identified the cause of tension-type headaches, but they tend to result in difficulty maintaining focus or irritability, among other problems which interfere with our daily life and cause us to lose productivity at work, miss out on normal activities, or experience interpersonal problems. The Mayo Clinic says that managing tension headaches are a balance between fostering healthy habits, finding effective non-drug treatments and using medications appropriately.
This may be one of the reasons why new, safer remedies for tension headaches containing CBD oil, a natural cannabis extract, are being considered to support this balance.
Well-rounded treatment plans involving CBD oil could be especially valuable for those with chronic tension headaches because using pharmaceutical pain relievers almost daily, or even multiple times a day, could result in additional headaches according to the American Migraine Foundation. Some preventive medications patients are given to fend off head pain, which include antidepressants or blood pressure medication, don’t work for acute headache attacks, so another pain reliever needs to be taken alongside it and — even if these are a “milder” options like ibuprofen — the large amount of medication over time can cause serious problems like kidney failure and ulcers.
Alternative to Pharmaceutical Treatments
Before it became illegal in the 1937, cannabis was used by prominent doctors, dating back to pre-modern times, as a holistic way to relieve headaches. More recently, a 2018 review of headache patients showed that when more than half of them replaced various pharmaceutical treatments with cannabis they experienced positive results. Researchers also identified cannabis and its pain-relieving compounds, CBD and THC, as having potential to specifically treat different forms of tension-type headaches, like cluster headaches and those stemming from medication overuse.
Though tension headaches can be long-lasting or even chronic, they shouldn’t be confused with migraines which are characteristically worsened by light and sound and cause symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Some triggers of tension-type headaches include:
Topical treatments are creams or salves infused with cannabis extracts like CBD oil that are rubbed into your skin, so you can apply it directly onto your temples or neck muscles. This transdermal application allows the CBD to effectively pass into the bloodstream, delivering long-lasting pain relief as demonstrated in a 2016 study from the European Journal of Pain.
CBD that’s taken orally has promising therapeutic results for headache sufferers, and it comes in the form of capsules, tinctures, or edibles (meaning CBD-infused cookies or candies) that are easy to use. If you want to avoid direct topical treatment for your headache pain due to skin issues or sensitivity, these are a suitable alternative.
CBD oil and cannabis can be vaporized — inhaled using a vaporizing device such as a vape pen — which is an efficient method for those who want fast pain relief. Vaping doesn’t come with the same risks as smoking though it may still contain contaminants depending on the quality of your CBD products.
Other Resources for Patients
Although cannabis and CBD oil are natural substances to consider for treating tension headaches, it’s important to note that they can interact poorly with other drugs (though themselves aren’t known to have any serious side effects). To avoid any health risks, talk to your doctor and be sure to educate yourself about the ways cannabis and CBD interact with the human body.
The content on cannabisMD is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.