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CBD For Migraine Sufferers: Hope or Hype?

ST. GEORGE, Utah – Migraines affect 39 million men, women and children in the United States. Some sufferers are trying a new treatment: CBD oil. Here’s what you need to know before giving it a try.

Like many who suffer from migraines, Michelle Tanner has tried just about everything.

“I’ve had migraines on and off my whole life, basically ever since I was a young teenager,” said Tanner, who lives in St. George. “I tried all of the natural remedies, acupuncture, chiropractors, I did trigger point injections and then all of the prescription medications and just nothing was helping with my migraines.”

Tanner is far from alone. Migraines affect 39 million men, women, and children in the U.S. every year, according to the Migraine Research Foundation (MRF).

As the third most prevalent illness in the world, according to Migraine Research Foundation (MRF), a cure for migraines has eluded medical experts. Chances are you or someone you know suffers from them.

Last fall, Tanner had a migraine that lasted three months. When nothing relieved the pain, she turned to social media seeking help. A friend suggested she try Cannabidiol, better known as CBD.

“I didn’t really know a whole lot about it, and I had a lot of questions,” admitted Tanner. “Being in the medical field, is this going to show up on a drug screen, is this going to make me high, is this going to give me the munchies?”

CBD is a compound derived from the cannabis plant. Unlike medical marijuana, it doesn’t have a psychoactive affect. Sellers and users claim it can treat everything from anxiety to joint pain and even migraines. CBD containing less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) became legal to buy in the Beehive State in December 2018. Since then, the CBD industry in Utah has grown quickly, with more and more businesses and medical offices selling it.

After extensive research, Tanner finally decided to try CBD oil for her migraines and purchased a bottle from THC Naturals in St. George.

“We kind of joke about it now, because I went in and purchased the smallest bottle that they have and told them, ‘Hey, I’m not going to waste my money. It’s not going to work. I fully expect it not to work,’” said Tanner.

But she says it did.

“It was on day two or three of taking it, I was just getting ready and all of a sudden I just felt like a weight had been lifted and I realized that my headache is gone,” said Tanner.

She cautioned anyone who is curious to do their research.

CBD oil is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so there are no guarantees of quality or content.

That caution is echoed by Dr. Corey Anden, a board-certified physician at the Northern Utah Rehabilitation Hospital in South Ogden.

She says many CBD products come from China, with very little information about how the cannabis plant was grown.

“A good CBD company is going to have available the information of where their product comes from,” said Anden. “In general, it would be best to buy American.”

Anden said you should also ask for a Certificate of Analysis, meaning a third-party lab has tested the product to determine how pure it is, verified the amount of CBD in it, and proven it contains less than 0.3% THC.

Another thing to keep in mind before you try CBD oil: there is very little research proving that it works on migraines, although cannabis has been used for centuries for headaches.

A 2016 study indicated medical marijuana may reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. However, the research did not specifically study CBD oil.

Anden supports the use of CBD oil for migraines and sells it in her clinic. She sees no harm in patients trying it.

“Most people are having some beneficial effects from it,” said Anden. “It’s lessening the intensity and the trouble from having the migraine so that one can continue to function.”

Because of the lack of research, there are no recommendations on dosage. Anden said patients will need to experiment.

Anden recommends patients start with a very lose dose and increase the amount gradually.

“There is really very little in the way of risk,” said Anden. “One does not overdose on CBD.”

Michelle Tanner said her research paid off, but she warns others to be careful when using CBD oil.

“My experience with CBD oil has been amazing, but I think it is really important for people to realize, though, that not all CBD oil is created equal, it’s still a very loosely regulated industry so you do have to be careful about where you are buying it from,” said Tanner.

Once a skeptic, Tanner now sells CBD oil from THG Naturals in her own health and beauty clinic, Bella Tu Medical. She says she hopes her experience will help other migraine sufferers find relief.

“I use it daily to prevent [migraines] and it’s now been three or four months of being completely migraine free,” she said.

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