The CBD edibles market is constantly growing. The reported benefits of CBD edibles have included a role as a pain-reliever. What about for chronic daily headaches?
What are chronic daily headaches?
According to Johns Hopkins website, chronic daily headaches are defined as headaches that occur as many days as not, i.e. at least fifteen times a month. But rather than being a type of headache, “chronic daily headaches” refers to the frequency of the headaches. They can be any type of the various types of headaches.
Types of headaches
Although we won’t go into all the headache types, we’ll mention the major types.
- Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They’re related to tension or spasm in the muscles of the head and neck. The headache is usually constant (not throbbing) and bilateral, i.e. occurring on both sides of the head. Some triggers include stress, hunger, and lack of sleep. Tension headaches are usually responsive to over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Tension headaches can be chronic daily headaches, and they may be exacerbated by medication overuse, e.g. ibuprofen, but the worst offender for chronic daily headaches as a result of medication overuse is acetaminophen.
2. Migraine headaches are among the most disabling type of chronic daily headaches. Migraines are due to a complex interaction of neural and vascular disorders. They are often unilateral, i.e. one-sided, pounding or throbbing, and associated with nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, and may be preceded by visual abnormalities such as scintillating flashes. Because activity worsens migraine headaches, it may be impossible to work or socialize when a migraine is active. Migraines can respond to NSAIDs, but not very well. They respond better to the triptans, such as zolmitriptan.
3. Sinus headaches are associated with sinusitis (infections of the sinuses) or sinus congestion. Although people often say they have a sinus headache, they are probably much rarer than that. They are commonly located in the lower forehead or in the front part of the cheeks. Some migraines are sometimes mistaken for sinus headaches. Sinus headaches might be the least common cause of chronic daily headaches.
3. Cluster headaches are much rarer than tension or migraines. They are more prominent in men after the age of thirty. Often located behind one eye, they may occur in episodes of 1-3 hours throughout the day, hence the name cluster. They are treated with high-concentration oxygen and certain medications.
My history of chronic daily headaches
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.
At any rate, I get headaches every day, which makes them chronic daily headaches. This is not so much a type of headache as it is a description of its frequency. One obstacle in managing chronic daily headaches 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.
The worst offender in this regard may be acetaminophen, in my medical opinion one of the most overrated medications around. With acetaminophen, my rebound headache is more severe than the original. 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.
CBD for my chronic daily headaches?
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 CBD edibles 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 dosing is best for my chronic daily headaches
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. By the way, CBD edibles side effects were nonexistent.
Next steps in my chronic daily headaches
I plan to try a higher dosage of CBD by using a higher concentration, so I don’t run through the bottle so fast. You too can shop CBD edibles here on the Edible Calm and try the new high-potency CBD oil. A review of dosing of CBD indicates that many people should be taking higher amounts for relief.