CBD Oil for Migraine: Does It Work?
Migraine attacks go beyond the typical stress- or allergy-related headache. Migraine attacks last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Even the most mundane activities, such as moving or being around noise and light, can amplify your symptoms.
While pain medications can help temporarily alleviate symptoms of migraine attacks, you may be concerned about their side effects. This is where cannabidiol (CBD) may come in.
CBD is one of the many active compounds found in the cannabis plant. It’s grown in popularity as a way to naturally treat certain medical conditions.
Keep reading to find out:
- what the current research says about using CBD for migraine
- how it works
- potential side effects and more
Research on the use of CBD for migraine is limited. Existing studies look at the combined effects of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a different cannabinoid. There are currently no published studies that examine the effects of CBD as a single ingredient on migraine.
This limited research is due, in part, to regulations on CBD and obstacles with cannabis legalization. Still, some laboratory studies have suggested that CBD oil may help all forms of chronic and acute pain, including migraine.
Study on CBD and THC
In 2017, at the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN), a group of researchers presented the results of their study on cannabinoids and migraine prevention.
In phase I of their study, 48 people with chronic migraine received a combination of two compounds. One compound contained 19 percent THC, while the other contained 9 percent CBD and virtually no THC. The compounds were administered orally.
Doses under 100 milligrams (mg) had no effect. When doses were increased to 200 mg, acute pain was reduced by 55 percent.
Phase II of the study looked at people with chronic migraine or cluster headaches. The 79 people with chronic migraine received a daily dose of 200 mg of the THC-CBD combination from phase I or 25 mg of amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant.
The 48 people with cluster headaches received a daily dose of 200 mg of the THC-CBD combination from phase I or 480 mg of verapamil, a calcium channel blocker.
The treatment period lasted for three months, and a follow-up occurred four weeks after treatment ended.
The THC-CBD combination reduced migraine attacks by 40.4 percent, while amitriptyline led to a 40.1 percent reduction in migraine attacks. The THC-CBD combination also reduced the intensity of the pain by 43.5 percent.
Participants with cluster headaches only saw a slight decrease in the severity and frequency of their headaches.
However, some did see their pain intensity drop by 43.5 percent. This drop in pain intensity was only observed in participants who’d had migraine attacks that began in childhood.
The researchers concluded that cannabinoids were only effective against acute cluster headaches if a person had experienced migraine attacks as a child.
Research on other forms of cannabis may provide additional hope for those seeking migraine pain relief.
Studies on medical marijuana
In 2016, Pharmacotherapy published a study on the use of medical marijuana for migraine. Researchers found that of the 48 people surveyed, 39.7 percent reported fewer migraine attacks overall.
Drowsiness was the biggest complaint, while others had difficulty figuring out the right dose. People who used edible marijuana, as opposed to inhaling it or using other forms, experienced the most side effects.
A 2018 study looked at 2,032 people with migraine, headache, arthritis, or chronic pain as a primary symptom or illness. Most participants were able to replace their prescription medications — typically opioids or opiates — with cannabis.
All subgroups preferred hybrid strains of cannabis. People in the migraine and headache subgroups preferred OG Shark, a hybrid strain with high levels of THC and low levels of CBD.
Study on nabilone
A 2012 Italian study explored the effects of nabilone, a synthetic form of THC, on headache disorders. Twenty-six people who experienced medication overuse headaches began by taking oral doses of either .50 mg a day of nabilone or 400 mg a day of ibuprofen.
After taking one drug for eight weeks, the study participants went without medication for one week. Then they switched to the other drug for the final eight weeks.
Both drugs proved to be effective. However, at the end of the study, participants reported more improvements and better quality of life when taking nabilone.
Using nabilone resulted in less intense pain as well as lowered drug dependence. Neither drug had a significant impact on the frequency of migraine attacks, which the researchers attributed to the short duration of the study.
CBD works by interacting with the body’s cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). Though the mechanisms aren’t fully understood, the receptors can affect the immune system.
For example, CBD may prevent the body from metabolizing anandamide . The compound anandamide is associated with pain regulation. Maintaining high levels of anandamide in your bloodstream may reduce your feelings of pain.
CBD is also thought to limit inflammation within the body, which may also help reduce pain and other immune-system responses.
More research is needed to further understand how CBD may affect the body.
Although lawmakers in the United States are currently debating the merits of cannabis and related products, the plant’s medicinal uses aren’t a new discovery.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) , cannabis has been used in alternative medicine for over 3,000 years. Some of these uses include the management of:
- neurological symptoms
- applied topically
Oral CBD is less likely to cause side effects than vaping, so some beginners may want to start there. You can:
- put a few drops of the oil under your tongue
- take CBD capsules
- eat or drink a CBD-infused treat
Vaping CBD oil may be beneficial if you’re experiencing a severe migraine at home and you don’t have to leave and go elsewhere.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) explains that the inhalation process delivers the compounds to your bloodstream much quicker than other methods.
Currently, there aren’t any formal guidelines for proper dosing for a migraine attack. Work with your doctor to determine a proper dosage.
If you’re new to CBD oil, you should start with the smallest dosage possible. You can gradually work your way up to the full recommended dose. This will allow your body to get used to the oil and reduce your risk of side effects.
Overall, studies show that the side effects of CBD and CBD oil are minimal. This is one of the main reasons why people are opting out of over-the-counter (OTC) or addictive prescription pain medications.
Still, fatigue, drowsiness, and upset stomach are possible, as well as changes in appetite and weight. Liver toxicity has also been observed in mice who’ve been force-fed extremely large doses of CBD-rich cannabis extract.
Your risk for side effects may depend on the way you use the CBD oil. For example, vaping may cause lung irritation. This can lead to:
- chronic cough
- breathing difficulties
If you have asthma or another type of lung disease, your doctor may advise against vaping CBD oil.
If you’re unsure about the potential side effects or how your body might handle them, talk with your doctor.
If you’re also taking other medications or dietary supplements, be mindful of drug interactions. CBD may interact with a variety of drugs, including:
Be extra careful if you take a medication or supplement that interacts with grapefruit. CBD and grapefruit both interact with enzymes — such as cytochromes P450 (CYPs) — that are important for drug metabolism.
CBD oils are made from cannabis, but they don’t always contain THC. THC is the cannabinoid that makes users feel “high” or “stoned” when smoking cannabis.
Two types of CBD strains are widely available on the market:
The CBD-dominant strain has little to no THC, while the CBD-rich strain contains both cannabinoids.
CBD without THC doesn’t have psychoactive properties. Even if you select a combination product, the CBD often counteracts the effects of THC, according to the nonprofit Project CBD. This is one of the many reasons you might select CBD oil over medical marijuana.
Is CBD Legal? Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Due to the psychoactive components of traditional marijuana, cannabis remains outlawed in some parts of the United States.
However, a growing number of states have voted to approve cannabis for medical use only. Others have legalized cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use.
If you live in a state where marijuana is legal for both medicinal and recreational use, you should have access to CBD oil, too.
However, if your state has legalized cannabis for medicinal use only, you’ll need to apply for a marijuana card through your doctor before purchasing CBD products. This license is required for the consumption of all forms of cannabis, including CBD.
In some states, all forms of cannabis are illegal. Federally, cannabis is still classified as a dangerous and illicit drug.
It’s important to be aware of the laws in your state and any other states you may visit. If cannabis-related products are illegal — or if they require a medical license that you don’t have — you may be subject to a penalty for possession.
More research is needed before CBD oil can become a conventional treatment option for migraine, but it’s worth talking to your doctor if you’re interested. They can advise you on the proper dosage as well as any legal requirements.
If you decide to try CBD oil, treat it like you would any other treatment option for migraine. It may take some time to work, and you may need to adjust your dosage to better suit your needs.
Research on CBD oil for migraine is limited, but some evidence suggests that it may help relieve chronic or acute pain. Learn more.
Can CBD Cause Headaches?
Posted on June 24th, 2020
Headaches are, without a doubt, one of the most common nervous system disorders. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that between one half and two-thirds of adults all over the globe experienced at least one headache a year. Cannabidiol (CBD) is enjoying a rise in popularity right now, with many users reporting positive effects from its use. But taking CBD can come with a few undesired side effects. Because, while several studies suggest that taking CBD can reduce headache and migraine discomfort, some professionals are exploring whether CBD use could also trigger headaches. In other words, if you’re a regular CBD user, you might need to ask: can CBD cause headaches?
Here’s the story with CBD, a naturally occurring compound found in industrial hemp strains of the cannabis plant. As a plant-based supplement, CBD is generally safe for consumption. In rare cases, however, taking this compound may trigger certain unwanted side effects. The most common ones include nausea, dizziness, low blood pressure, dry mouth, and drowsiness .
Headaches or migraines are not often listed as potential CBD side effects, but it is possible that CBD-induced headaches happen so rarely that they are not considered among common side effects. CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory and why people who take blood thinner medication should not consumer CBD without discussing with their doctor.
There are two possible ways your CBD use could trigger a headache: your dosage and the quality of CBD you consume. In this post, we’ll examine both potential causes.
CBD Side Effects
Recently, scientists re-discovered our bodies have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which interacts with cannabinoids in hemp-extracts such as CBD. Now, this system is really complex, and more research will be needed before we can draw any solid conclusions as to how CBD works within your body to create certain beneficial effects. That’s because the research on this compound is still in its infancy and more conclusive, long-term studies are still a few years away.
Still, early CBD studies reveal that cannabidiol may help symptoms of anxiety, depression, pain sensitivity, and blood pressure problems. But as these studies continue to explore the benefits of CBD, we also need to examine the potential side effects associated with regular cannabidiol supplementation.
In order to help shine a light on the full CBD picture, let’s do a quick review:
- CBD is one of the many cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant.
- While CBD offers users potentially therapeutic benefits, it does not cause a psychoactive high.
- Because of its non-psychoactive nature, CBD is generally a safer option than THC for addressing conditions that may be improved through the endocannabinoid system’s regulation.
- Some people claim that CBD oil can trigger headaches and allergies. It’s important to note that CBD and CBD oil are actually different products, although very similar in nature. Basically, CBD oil is a product made when CBD is extracted from the hemp plant. The extraction process changes the nature of the CBD and unleashes certain potentially beneficial effects in the product.
So, Can CBD Cause Headaches?
Before taking any new medication or supplement, it’s important to research any potential side effects. Fortunately, scientists are a step ahead of you in exploring potential CBD side effects. According to a study done in 1986, dystonic cannabidiol users (individuals with a neurologic disorder that causes muscle tremors) may be prone to lightheadedness, psychomotor slowing, hypertension sedation, and dry mouth. Of course, there’s a catch: the side effects depended on the size of the CBD dose. And, even when side effects popped up, the study did not find any evidence regarding CBD use as a potential cause of headaches.
Another study published by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research back in 2017 states that CBD may cause appetite and weight issues, as well as diarrhea, and tiredness. So, can CBD cause headaches? The publication, however, does not mention headaches as a potential CBD side effect. Also, the stated side effects are mild in nature, meaning there were no life-threatening risks found in the study.
CBD Oil Dose
When it comes to CBD consumption, it is important to carefully monitor your dose size. We always recommend starting low and slowly increasing your dose size until you achieve your desired effect. Why is this such an important guideline? Most of the CBD side effects detected by scientists are often due to uncontrolled CBD use. As mentioned earlier, the quality of this substance is also an important aspect to keep in mind. Buying from unregistered dealers, or purchasing low-quality strains virtually guarantees your disappointment and could pave the way for unwanted side effects.
Begin With Moderate CBD Doses
Even if you do your homework on the quality and legitimacy of a certain CBD product, it’s important to be careful about your dose size. As we mentioned earlier, start with a small dose size and allow your body to get used to that CBD concentration, especially if it is your first time or if you are trying a new form of CBD. Even though CBD is non-toxic, it’s important to start low and gradually increase the dose. This is the best way to avoid unwanted side effects. And remember to consult your practitioner before starting a new supplement, as your current state of health could determine your optimal dose size, as well as any contraindications to your CBD use.
The Downside of Poor CBD Quality
Given the explosive market for CBD, some businesses will try to capitalize on this supplement’s popularity, at the expense of unsuspecting users. This often leads to disappointments as low-quality strains cause severe and consistent side effects, including respiratory issues, allergies, and even headaches. While less reputable CBD brands sell their products at lower prices, be aware that you may ultimately pay for that discount with your health.
The Importance of Purchasing High-Quality CBD
Purchasing CBD from an illegitimate seller comes with the downside of not knowing where your product was sourced. Unfortunately, there are CBD dealers who aren’t even licensed to deal with this product. As such, It’s important to educate yourself regarding the proper use of CBD products, legitimate sources, and proof of product purity. That being said, here are a few things to consider when buying any CBD product:
Where Does It Come From?
The cannabis plant varies from region to region. These plants are susceptible to absorbing mercury, lead, and other chemicals; if you are buying a product from overseas, carefully research the region where your CBD was grown. The packaging might contain misinformation, as well as a low-quality strain of CBD extract. Some toxic chemicals might also find their way into your packaging, which would have an even more severe impact on your health.
3rd Party Laboratory Test
Given how largely unregulated the CBD industry is, it is important to take precautions and only purchase products from manufacturers who provide evidence of a 3rd party testing process. These tests tell you about every included ingredient in your CBD, as well as identifying their quality and potency. Additionally, third-party testing will highlight residual solvents in your CBD product, providing an early warning system for signs that chemical fertilizers, microbial contamination, and pesticides have made their way into the supplement.
CBD Can Actually Alleviate Tension Headaches
So, we’ve reviewed that poor-quality CBD can trigger headaches. But let’s remember the more important facts: several studies suggest that CBD can actually provide relief from tension headaches because the cannabinoid can address underlying triggers. Tension headaches are often caused by stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, caffeine withdrawal, and weather changes. CBD may not be able to control how much coffee you drink or the weather outside, but it could possibly help address symptoms of stress or anxiety. It may even improve the quality of your nightly sleep.
Does Lack of Sleep Trigger Headaches
So many people experience headaches due to the loss of proper sleep and fatigue. According to studies, people who experience headaches and migraines are more likely to suffer from sleeping disorders. Studies suggest that cannabidiol may improve sleep by potentially relieving the anxiety that often causes sleeplessness and troubled nights. So using CBD may prevent fatigue-triggered tension headaches.
Is it All in Your Head?
As with any experience, there’s always the chance that you might be imagining a link between your cannabidiol use and suggested side effects, including headaches. This is especially true because there are numerous types of headaches, each with their own contributing causes. Can CBD cause headaches? Well, even if you develop a headache, don’t be too quick to blame your CBD use. If cutting back on the size or frequency of your CBD dose does not alleviate your headaches, chances are CBD is not the culprit. And, if your headaches persist, with or without CBD use, be sure to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider.
CBD is rising in popularity right now, with many users reporting positive effects from its use, but what are the possible side effects? Is it possible for CBD to cause headaches?