CBD Oil for Migraines and Headaches: Benefits and Potential Risks

CBD for migraines is a trending conversation. The compound, sometimes called medical marijuana, has been popularized for its effectiveness in preventing and treating debilitating headaches. But how does it work? This article explains in detail the use of CBD in the treatment of migraines.

Migraines – A Brief Overview

Migraines constitute an intense pain that pulses or throbs to a certain point in the head. The pain can be crippling. Symptoms of a migraine may include nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as vomiting. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines are the 3rd most prevalent illness worldwide. Migraines affect 12 percent of the population, and they are three times more likely to occur in women than men.

Various triggers can induce migraines including

  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Insomnia
  • Smells
  • Bright lights

The triggers differ from one person to another, as do the symptoms. Some of the chronic migraine sufferers can predict when the throbbing pain will occur because they see an aura. However, this also varies among different people. For some, the aura may appear as zig-zag lines, temporary loss of vision, and flashing lights. Other people will have brief auditory hallucinations or earaches before or after the onset of the migraine.

Migraine attacks usually go beyond typical headaches and may last between 4 to 72 hours. Also, even mundane activities such as being around noise or moving around can amplify your symptoms. Painkillers can help to relieve symptoms temporarily but may have side effects such as vomiting. It is concerning the symptoms and existing treatments that cannabidiol shows promise.

CBD Oil and Migraines

Before cannabis became illegal, people used it historically to treat headaches. CBD can be used to treat migraines and headaches because of how it affects the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is a regulatory system that controls some feelings such as pain and appetite. The system produces cannabinoids. The body also has cannabinoid receptors that interact with compounds such as CBD.

Research has shown that when someone has a migraine, the levels of Anandamide are below average. The levels of Anandamide have led to theories that migraines result from deficiencies in the ECS. A study conducted by Dr. Ethan Russo concludes that natural endocannabinoids can treat a variety of health problems such as fibromyalgia and chronic migraines.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Migraines

Research on the use of CBD for migraines is still in its early stages due to the regulations and restrictions on cannabis legalization. Nonetheless, some laboratories have conducted studies that suggest CBD may help relieve all forms of chronic pains, including migraines.

Chronic Migraine and Pain Relief

In 2017, researchers from the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology presented their study on the use of cannabis for migraines. In the first phase of their research, 48 patients with chronic migraine received a blend of two compounds. The first compound contained 19% THC while the other had 9% CBD and no THC. The researchers administered the compounds orally. Doses below 100mg did not affect, but at 200mg, the doses reduced the pain by 55%.

The second phase of the study looked at people with cluster headaches or migraines. It involved 79 people who received daily doses of 200 mg THC-CBD arrangement used in the first phase. Amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant, was an alternative dosage administered in 25 mg. This treatment continued for three months and with a follow-up one month later.

The combination of THC-CBD reduced migraine attacks by up to 40.4% while amitriptyline reduced by 40.1%. The cannabinoid combination also reduced pain intensity by up to 43.5%. Most participants who had cluster headaches realized only a slight decrease in the frequency and severity, but some saw their pain reduced by 43.5%. Participants who had migraines since their childhood were the only ones who experienced a drop in pain intensity.

Alternative to Opioids for Chronic Pain Treatment

Research also indicates that CBD and CBD-THC strains of cannabis can treat patients who suffer chronic pain and who want a substitute for opioid treatments. A study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain in 2018 found a relationship between the use of CBD for headache relief and the reduced use of opioids.

Legality: Is CBD Legal?

Due to the psychoactive components of traditional marijuana, cannabis remains illegal in some parts of the US. At the federal level, CBD derived from hemp became legal under the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act. CBD derived from cannabis continues to be categorized as a controlled substance.

A rising number of states have voted to approve the use of CBD for medicinal purposes. Other states have legalized it for both recreational and medicinal uses. Hemp-derived CBD exists in an even more gray area, so you’ll need to check with local regulations to determine its legality.

How To Use CBD Oil for Migraines?

CBD oil can be:

  • Ingested
  • Vaped
  • Or applied topically

Vaping may cause more side effects compared to taking it orally. As such, beginners may want to start with ingesting it. You can:

  • Eat or drink CBD infused treats
  • Take CBD capsules
  • Put a few drops of CBD under your tongue

Vaping is the most effective method for severe migraines. Additionally, the inhalation process delivers the compound to your brain quicker. However, there is no standard method or dosage for taking CBD oil. You should start with a low dosage or consult your doctor.

Potential Risks: Are there any side effects of CBD Oil?

The side effects of CBD are minimal. However, you may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Changes in weight and appetite

Tests conducted on mice have also shown toxicity in the liver.

The risks associated with cannabidiol depend on the method of consuming it. Vaping, for instance, can cause lung irritation, which can lead to coughing, wheezing, and difficulties in breathing. It would be best if you also looked up whether CBD can interact with prescribed medications, such as antidepressants, antibiotics, and blood thinners.


CBD for migraines and pain relief shows much promising potential, but more research is necessary. You should consult your doctor if you experience migraines and wish to try CBD. Your doctor will examine your condition and advise accordingly