Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has shown promise for pain relief and reducing inflammation. It might even be an effective treatment for migraines. CBD is derived from cannabis or hemp but does not get the user high like the better-known cannabinoid THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Some people claim that the cannabis plant can reduce headache symptomsbut there have been no studies using CBD in isolation. However, a great deal of anecdotal evidence is available suggesting that people do experience relief from migraines using CBD oil and that it may even shorten the duration of migraines without the side effects some people experience using prescription drugs.
People who wish to try using CBD oil for treatment of migraines should consult with a physician to make sure there aren’t any drug interactions to be aware of before using. You will also want to do some reading on the products from the cannabis plant you’re considering to ensure they’re safe and from a reputable source.
Research on Using CBD Oil for Migraines
People have used cannabis for as an effective treatment
headaches for thousands of years, yet there is little scientific study or data
available for review to corroborate people’s anecdotal reports of its
effectiveness with migraines. Also, some of the research available includes
published studies conducted on the entire marijuana plant, not just CBD in
A 2017 study by the European Academy of Neurology
reports on using cannabis for migraine headache prevention. The two-phased
study compared the responses of patients with chronic pain who used two
compounds—one with THC and the other with a THC-CBD compound. Doses under 100mg
did not affect the patient, while doses of 200mg reduced acute pain by over 50
Phase two examined persons with chronic
migraines or cluster headaches and tested the THC-CBD compound from phase one
against other pharmaceuticals used for treating migraines. The number of
patients whose symptoms were relieved by the THC-CBD mixture was slightly more
significant than the number of patients with symptoms relieved by prescription
drugs. Patients’ acute pain was reduced by over 40 percent. Cluster headache
patients saw only a slight reduction in the severity and frequency of their
headaches. Those who experienced childhood migraines also saw a decrease in
pain by over 40 percent.
Despite the lack of specific research on CBD oil
and migraines, other published studies indicate that CBD is effective in
reducing inflammation and pain in arthritis. It is reasonable to consider that
CBD could have similar benefits for acute migraine pain. Some recently
published studies concluded that cannabis could play a useful
role in treating migraines, but further research and review focused on CBD exclusively,
dosage, and composition is needed.
Despite the lack of formal research on CBD
treatment for migraines, a consulting physician with the American Migraine
Foundation recommends using CBD oil for joint and muscle
pain associated with migraines and suggests it might help prevent vomiting and
nausea. The Foundation bases this opinion on research demonstrating the benefits of CBD’s
efficacy in reducing chronic pain and anti-inflammatory properties.
How does CBD oil work for
CBD oil from capsules binds to individual receptors in the
body’s central nervous system, part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which
helps regulate behavior, immune response, memory, mood, pain, sleep, stress,
and other vital functions. ECS receptors exist in the brain and throughout the
nervous system. Our bodies produce substances that bind naturally to ECS
receptors to regulate these functions.
One National Institute of Health (NIH) study suggests CBD may prevent the body from
metabolizing anandamide. Anandamide is a molecule associated with pain regulation.
Increased levels of anandamide are thought to reduce pain. CBD oil was also found
to reduce inflammation in the body, which may also help
Administering CBD Oil for
CBD oil can be used by:
Given the recent health concerns surrounding
vaping cannabis and tobacco products, it may be advisable only to use CBD oil
via ingested or topical applications until we know further information about
the harmful effects of vaping.
Using CBD Oil for Migraines in
CBD oil in its edible and topical forms can be
Placing the specified dose under
Applying topically to the skin
Using in capsule form
Eating or drinking CBD-infused
treats or beverages
How much CBD oil for migraines
should I be taking?
There are no current dosing recommendations
from the medical community for using CBD oil in treating migraines, so it’s
recommended to start with a low dose and slowly increase until you’ve achieved
the desired result. Consult with your physician for information on CBD
interactions with any prescription drugs you may be using. Your doctor can
advise you on dosing based on your physical profile and medical history.
Be sure to consult the labeling on all product
packaging for usage instructions and any dosage recommendations based on the
product form. There are also purity and point of origin considerations, so make
sure you are obtaining your CBD oil from a reputable source in the US. Non-US
varieties are not necessarily subject to testing or quality control.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
of CBD Oil for Migraines
The available research indicates that the
potential risks and side effects of CBD oil used for treating migraines are
minimal—especially compared with many prescription drugs. Side effects may include:
Fluctuations in appetite and
Side effects noted from vaping CBD oil were:
Persons with respiratory issues such as asthma
or lung disease should probably avoid vaping CBD oil. If you have questions or
concerns about possible side effects from using CBD oil, you should consult
with your physician for more information or advice.
Another possible risk when using CBD oil is
the lack of regulation.Even the best CBD oil and cannabis products including medical marijuana don’t have FDA approval for
treating migraines, so regulators are not actively monitoring CBD oils marketed
in the US for quality control, potency, and purity.
Consumers should also look for evidence of
testing and certification for CBD products—especially products sold online. CBD
oil containing THC is illegal still in many states, so be sure to check the
content of the product you’re purchasing.
Is it legal to use CBD oil for
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
has declared CBD products derived from cannabis are legal only in those states
where medical marijuana or recreational is also legal. However, CBD products
derived from hemp are legal to purchase. Since marijuana is still illegal under
federal law, CBD oil containing THC is illegal, too. The 2018 Farm Bill cleared
the way for hemp producers to cultivate CBD oil for sale and distribution to
However, some state laws explicitly forbid the
sale and distribution of CBD products. You can check
the websites of various advocacy groups and legal organizations that track
cannabis legalization across the US and determine if CBD is legal to buy in
Can I get CBD oil for migraines
from my doctor?
Persons who suffer from migraines may find
their physician recommends trying a conventional migraine treatment before they
approve or prescribe CBD oil use. There are also proven strategies for
identifying and avoiding your migraine triggers, which can reduce their
frequency, like stress management, avoiding bright lights and allergens, and
getting plenty of sleep.
Migraine sufferers respond differently to
different treatments, conventional or otherwise. Discuss what has worked in the
past with your doctor and what isn’t working now. If you’re going to pursue CBD
oil for migraines, check with your doctor first to make sure there aren’t any
known side effects from using CBD oil with any other medications you’re
The only FDA-approved prescription form of CBD
oil is Epidiolex,
and it is usually only prescribed for rare forms of epilepsy. Talk with your
doctor to discuss your migraine treatment options so you can make an informed
decision about your migraine care. Non-prescription CBD oils may provide
relief, but be sure to verify their purity and quality before using them.