The combination of CBD and THC can be a powerful pain reliever for people with migraines. Here’s all you need to know about CBD:THC ratios for relief from them It appears that migraines are linked to the poor performance of the endocannabinoid system. Could CBD be an effective remedy for migraine headaches? Research shows CBD may prevent migraines & reduce their severity. Check out these expert-recommended CBD oils for migraines.
Best CBD:THC Ratio for Migraines
The combination of CBD and THC can be a powerful pain reliever for people with migraines. Here’s all you need to know about CBD:THC ratios for relief from them.
Typical migraine treatments might include triptans, which abort migraines but don’t prevent them, and over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
The cannabinoids CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol) may offer similar relief but with fewer side effects, and some find it more effective than other prescription medications. CBD and THC work together to improve sleep, reduce pain, and potentially reduce the frequency of migraines.
The best CBD:THC ratio for migraines is 1:3+, with one part CBD to three or more parts THC.
Here’s everything you need to know about the best CBD:THC ratios for migraines.
Table of Contents
Why Migraines Happen
If you aren’t familiar with migraines, you might not know that they’re quite different from headaches. In fact, some headaches are a symptom of migraines, and not all migraines come with head pain.
Whereas headaches may come from tension in the jaw, a pinched nerve in the neck, or sinus buildup, migraines originate in the brain. Similar to cluster headaches, migraines come from overactivity in part of the brain.
Unfortunately, the reason migraines happen is largely subjective to the individual suffering from them. They might happen due to hormonal changes during menstruation, a change in alcohol consumption, getting too little sleep, low barometric pressure, or any number of reasons.
There is no known reason why certain individuals get migraines and others don’t. As a result, people with chronic (or even occasional episodic) migraines often don’t find treatments that work well for them.
The effects of migraines are dire, even for people who only ever have a few during their lifetimes.
In addition to what can be severe head pain, migraine symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Light sensitivity
- Sound sensitivity
- Inability to sleep
For people who deal with this affliction every day, the effects of migraines can easily snowball into a host of other health issues, like not getting enough sleep, food, or exercise.
Common Migraine Medications
One reason migraine patients struggle to find adequate treatment is that the source of the migraine can be a puzzler.
For example, if you’re prescribed a triptan like sumatriptan, it’s best to take the medication as soon as you notice a migraine symptom. As abortives, triptans need to be administered early on in the migraine. Too late, and they simply won’t work.
You’ll still be left with the unpleasant side effects, though — severe dizziness, nausea, and sometimes unconsciousness and vomiting.
That isn’t to say patients shouldn’t use triptans. These drugs were created for the purpose of treating migraines, and they work very effectively.
For those who don’t like the side effects of triptans or don’t find them effective, some doctors resort exclusively to pain management. This poses perhaps the toughest part of living with migraines (or any chronic pain), as pain management often becomes a reliance on addictive narcotics for any relief.
People with less severe migraines can use over-the-counter pain medications, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Some migraine sufferers find this is enough, but it should be noted that too much acetaminophen can cause issues in the liver and kidneys, including painful stomach aches.
Using CBD & THC for Migraines
CBD and THC are both powerful cannabinoids that can reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body, including the brain.
There is plentiful research backing this claim up, too. Several clinical trials and retrospective studies have proven the effectiveness of CBD and THC (together and separate) in treating migraines .
The endocannabinoid system is home to CB1 and CB2 receptors, which activate the body’s response to stress, its dopamine levels, immune system function, and more. CBD interacts with the CB2 receptor while THC interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, stimulating both to prevent activation of the receptors.
When those receptors are activated, the pain begins. But if cannabinoids get there first, pain can be lowered, the immune system can remain strong, and dopamine can stay in the body.
Similar to triptans, CBD and THC are agonists to the 5-HT receptors. When these receptors are inhibited, the nerves don’t receive the message of pain. Activating the 5-HT receptors may work to prevent future migraines, too.
Some studies also show promise that CBD and THC may reduce the frequency of migraines overall, but more research is needed to prove this .
The Best CBD:THC Ratio for Migraines
The best CBD:THC ratio for migraines is 1:3+, with one part CBD to three or more parts THC.
Most migraine sufferers tend to choose very high doses of CBD and THC for pain relief, with 200 mg of cannabinoids total.
Although there aren’t specific ratios for migraines, THC works best for pain when taken in very high doses. When combined with CBD, you’ll experience slightly less psychoactive effects, and you’ll be able to better harness the impact of both compounds.
While CBD works to calm your nervous system and lower inflammation, THC can help you get your appetite back, offer pain relief, and help you sleep better.
We recommend higher doses of THC for migraines, but the best dose is whatever works for you. No amount of CBD or THC should make your migraines worse — although some sufferers describe feeling more aware of pain after getting high.
Taking THC along with CBD should take the edge off of any paranoia or similar psychological effects.
Other Migraine Symptom Remedies
Because the reason for migraines is unknown, they can be tough to treat in a doctor’s office. Here are a few other remedies for migraine symptoms that pair well with your CBD:THC ratio product.
Especially if you suffer from poor sleep due to migraines, adding some melatonin to your nightly routine may offer relief. It’s a natural supplement that won’t make you feel high, but might make you a little sleepy, so make sure to take it before bed.
Some scientists believe melatonin deficiencies may be one cause of migraine, while others think it can prevent migraine moreover . Either way, it will help you get to sleep — one of the worst parts of having a migraine.
Magnesium is a natural supplement that comes in the form of a pill or capsule. It can help migraine sufferers with aura migraines or menstrual migraines, possibly due to a magnesium deficiency. You can take up to 600 mg of magnesium on a daily basis or during your migraines.
Use Cold Therapy
It might seem like the oldest trick in the book, but there’s real science behind the effectiveness of putting a cold compress on your neck during a migraine .
Applying a very cold (ideally frozen) compress to the back of your neck at the start of a migraine may cool the blood passing through the carotid arteries, resulting in lowered inflammation. Although it doesn’t completely abort or stop migraines, it offers significant relief to many patients.
Final Thoughts: Which CBD:THC Ratio Is Best for Migraines?
The best CBD:THC ratio for migraines is 1:3+, with one part CBD to three or more parts THC. That’s because of the great pain-relieving impacts of THC. It’s important to take CBD and THC together, and in high doses, when treating migraines. CBD and THC may also provide a reduced frequency of migraines when taken regularly, but more research is needed.
CBD Oil for Migraines: How to Apply CBD Oil for Headaches
If you suffer from migraines, there are two things that probably irritate you the most.
First — the debilitating migraine headache itself.
Second — your friends use the term “migraines” to talk about any headache they experience.
Seriously, if you’ve ever had a migraine attack, you’ll never compare it to a regular headache, even if you think it’s on the verge of being manageable. Migraines can prevent you from performing even the simplest tasks.
Migraines are a serious problem among women; 18% of women in the US suffer from regular migraines compared to 6% of men. And yet, despite the striking prevalence, we know very little about the cause of this condition and how to fight it.
After failing with conventional treatment methods, many people desperately turn to natural resources for help — such as CBD oil.
CBD oil may relieve pain and reduce inflammation, but recent research shows it’s also a potential anti-migraine agent.
In this article, I will highlight the top 5 CBD oil brands that may help you relieve migraine headaches and perhaps even prevent them from happening.
Of course, I’ll also take you on a journey through the science behind CBD and migraines, so let’s get started.
Top 10 Best CBD Oil for Migraines (Brand Recommendations 2022)
Buying CBD oil online is a hard nut to crack.
Most people don’t have the time to read about extraction methods, certificates of analysis, hemp source, and all the other factors that decide about the quality of CBD oil.
Some people just want straight answers — “that brand is awesome because…”
And that’s exactly where you’ll get your answers. Below I show you my top 5 brand recommendations for CBD oil and migraines.
1. Royal CBD (Best Migraine Reliever)
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
- Their products are available as full-spectrum or “zero-THC”
- Up to 83.3 mg of CBD per mL (2500mg bottle)
- Every batch of product has been tested by independent labs
- Their CBD is sourced from American-grown hemp
- The natural flavor tastes great
- The price is slightly higher than average (although this is well justified)
What I Like About Royal CBD:
Royal CBD is a premium CBD brand that offers a range of high-quality CBD products. They like to keep it simple; their assortment consists only of CBD oil, capsules, and gummies.
I’ve been using their 1000mg CBD oil for quite a while now, and I must say I’m excited about how it works for my migraine headaches. Most of the time, when I have a migraine attack, I’m so debilitated that I can’t even move my finger, so taking CBD capsules or chewing on gummies is not an option.
With the oil, the experience is different because all I have to do is put a few drops under my tongue and wait for them to get absorbed while I’m lying on the couch and trying not to explode.
This full-spectrum CBD oil is pretty strong, so I’d recommend the 1000mg option to those with really severe migraine symptoms. At a lower cost, you can try their 250mg and 500mg bottles.
2. Gold Bee (Best Organic CBD Oil)
- Unique product selection
- Gold Bee uses non-GMO, Colorado-grown hemp
- The oil contains full-spectrum CBD
- The company’s products are extracted with CO2
- You’re getting up to 2400 mg of CBD per bottle
- The oil is sweetened with organic honey
- Third-party lab tested for potency and purity
- No high-strength oils
- Not available in-store
What I Like About Gold Bee:
Gold Bee is a true maverick when it comes to CBD extracts. This California-based brand offers a unique selection of products, including full-spectrum CBD oil that is sweetened with organic honey and CBD-infused honey sticks for the flavor chasers. The entire product line up is sourced from organic hemp, extracted with CO2, and third-party lab tested for potency and purity.
I’ve been taking the 1200 mg kiwi flavor for prevention and to ease the migraine pain once it has kicked in. I’ve noticed similar results to what I’ve been getting with some more potent oils from competitor brands, which already tells much about the oil’s quality. The kiwi flavor also does a great job in masking the earthy aftertaste of full-spectrum CBD, and most importantly, both flavorings and the sweetener are all-natural.
Gold Bee offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for its products, allowing customers to return their products for a full refund if they decide they are not satisfied with the results; it’s a great sign of the brand’s confidence about their quality.
3. CBDPure (Runner Up)
- Sourced from American-grown hemp
- Tested for potency and purity in 3rd-party laboratories
- Contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes
- You can return the product within 90 days for a full refund if you’re not satisfied with the product.
- Narrow product range
- Low potency
What I Like About CBDPure CBD Oil:
CBDPure is one of the most honest companies I’ve ever encountered. They give you a nice insight into each production stage of their CBD oils and prove their label claims with certificates of analysis from independent laboratories.
When it comes to migraines, I would use CBDPure oil as a preventative supplement to ease mild to moderate headaches, ones that aren’t caused by migraines.
These guys are keepers for those CBD users buying CBD on a budget, and if you end up not satisfied with the purchase, you can return the product within 90 days for a full refund.
4. Hemp Bombs
- They have a diverse product range made from CBD isolates
- Each batch is subject to third-party lab testing
- Their products offer the highest dose of CBD per serving
- The extracts used by Hemp Bombs are of lower quality than Royal CBD
- CBD isolate doesn’t induce the entourage effect because it lacks other cannabinoids
What I Like About Hemp Bombs:
Hemp Bombs has one of the most diverse product ranges in the entire industry. They sell oils, topicals, edibles, vape oils, pet treats, CBD shots, and some really crazy products like CBD-infused beard lotions.
While the quality of their extracts is one class lower than the one offered by brands like Royal CBD, HempBombs makes great products for those who can’t use full-spectrum extracts for a variety of reasons (e.g., pregnancy or the risk of testing false positive on drug screening).
Because these products are made from 99.9% pure isolate, you need higher doses to achieve relief than with full-spectrum CBD oil. As such, I encourage you to opt for their higher potencies, as can have a better effect on you and turn out more cost-efficient in the long run.
- Their products are available as full-spectrum CBD or pure CBD oil (Zero THC)
- Each batch of product is tested for potency and purity in a 3rd-party laboratory
- Five strengths to choose from
- Great price for the value
- Their hemp isn’t organic
- Their website doesn’t provide the best User Experience
What I Like About CBDistillery:
Here’s my top 3rd pick. There are two reasons why I decided not to give this brand a higher note — the way CBDistillery farms their hemp (the plants aren’t organic) and how their website gives me a heart attack every time I come back to see what’s new in their store.
On a positive note, I’d like to stress how much I love the fact they cater to every type of CBD user out there. CBDistillery sells their extracts as either “full-spectrum” or “pure oil.” On top of that, they ensure an outstanding potency range, starting at 250mg up to 5000mg of CBD per bottle.
6. NuLeaf Naturals
- Their CBD comes from domestic hemp
- NuLeaf obtains its extracts using a mix of subcritical and supercritical CO2
- Each batch is lab-tested for potency and contaminants
- Sold as full-spectrum extracts
- Up to 4850mg of CBD per bottle
- Narrow product range
- More expensive than the other companies
What I Like About NuLeaf Naturals:
Another pioneer (next to CBDistillery), NuLeaf naturals sells full-spectrum CBD oil for humans and dogs.
The reason why I decided to keep them in this ranking is the fantastic choice of bottle sizes this brand offers — from 5mL to 100mL.
The potency in those sizes are the same, so your choice will depend on how frequently you use CBD oil and how long you need to supply yourself for.
These are full-spectrum extracts, so you gain the benefit of the entourage effect. However, for some reason, these oils are priced higher than all the brands in this ranking. That’s weird because there’s no extra value in their products — the hemp isn’t organic, and the formula is rather typical of most CBD oils.
7. Charlotte’s Web
|Total CBD Content||200 – 1800 mg|
|Available Flavors||Mint Chocolate, Lemon Twist, Orange Blossom, Olive Oil|
|Potency||7 – 60 mg/mL|
About Charlotte’s Web:
Charlotte’s Web is one of the companies that blazed the trail for the CBD market as we know it today. Launched by the Stanley Brothers, the company has made big headlines in the mainstream media when they helped now late Charlotte Figi with her treatment-resistant epilepsy. Although the brand has recently received a warning letter from the FDA due to their health claims, they still have a reputation of a solid manufacturer.
The Charlotte’s Web CBD oil is available in 4 concentrations: 200 mg, 500 mg, 1500 mg, and 1800 mg of CBD per bottle. The strongest version comes with 60 mg of full-spectrum CBD in every milliliter. You can choose between two bottle sizes — 30 mL and 100 mL — and four flavor options, including Olive Oil, Mint Chocolate, Lemon Twist, and Orange Blossom.
What could Charlotte’s Web do better?
Well, for starters, they could switch from ethanol extraction to CO2 extraction because such products have a better chemical profile and are more efficient in terms of production. Secondly, and more importantly, I’d like to see these CBD oils suspended in MCT oil because suspension in olive oil makes them taste a bit too bitter for my palate — even in the flavored variants.
- One of the most reputable brands on the market
- Full-spectrum CBD
- Delicious flavored versions
- Up to 1800 mg of CBD per bottle
- Available in two sizes: 30 mL and 100 mL
- Third-party tested for potency and purity
- Non-organic hemp
- Ethanol extraction
- Suspension in olive oil (bitter taste)
- The company received a warning letter from the FDA in the past due to inappropriate health claims
|Total CBD Content||300 – 7500 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Berry, Orange, Mint|
|Potency||10 – 250 mg/mL|
cbdMD is another well-known brand that sells an array of CBD extracts, including tinctures, capsules, gummies, sleep aids, topicals, bath bombs, and pet products.
The company offers a broad range of CBD oils, with up to 7500 mg of CBD per bottle. The strongest version packs a healthy dose of 200 mg of broad-spectrum CBD suspended in MCT oil for better absorption and a smoother flavor. These oils are available in three flavored options: Berry, Orange, and Mint.
The lack of the trace amounts of THC makes cbdMD products suitable for younger users, athletes, and people who are regularly tested for THC at work. But on the other hand, broad-spectrum CBD doesn’t evoke the full entourage effect. The effects of CBD aren’t linear on the dose-response curve, so higher concentrations may not translate into better results in this case.
CbdMD also has high transparency standards. All of their products are tested by a third-party laboratory; the batch-specific certificates of analysis are available on the cbdMD’s website.
cbdMD is another popular manufacturer that offers a wide range of CBD extracts, from tinctures to cummies to capsules, bath bombs, topicals, sleep aids, and pet products.
- US-grown, non-GMO hemp
- CO2 extraction
- Up to 7500 mg of CBD per bottle
- Batch-specific certificates of analysis
- Limited entourage effect due to the lack of THC
- Most people don’t need such high doses of CBD in their routine
|Total CBD Content||500 – 3000 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Citrus, Mint Chocolate|
|Potency||16 – 100 mg/mL|
Medterra is a small artisan brand rooted in California. The company specializes in premium CBD oils in various cannabinoid spectra, including full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. These products contain from 500 mg to 3000 mg of CBD per bottle, which is a regular range for CBD companies. Aside from the unflavored version, you can choose from two flavored options: Citrus and Chocolate.
The company prides itself on making real full-spectrum CBD, with 2 mg of THC in each bottle. However, the problem with these extracts is that they’re not legal in all 50 states. So, if you want to purchase their products legally, your options are limited to broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate. On the other hand, these products contain upwards of 1000 mg of CBD, which may appeal to those who benefit from higher doses in their routine.
Medterra’s products are tested in a n independent laboratory for their CBD content and safety.
- Premium-grade CBD oils
- Up to 3000 mg of CBD per bottle
- Available as full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and isolates
- Lab tested for potency and purity
- The “real” full-spectrum CBD oil isn’t available in all states
- Some of the lab reports indicate higher CBD levels than stated on the bottle
- No discounts for returning customers
10. Joy Organics
|Total CBD Content||450 – 900 mg|
|Available Flavors||Tranquil Mint, Fresh Lime, Summer Lemon|
|Potency||15 – 30 mg/mL|
About Joy Organics:
Joy Organics is one of the most well-known brands in the CBD space. The company was founded by a woman named Joy Smith, who has been using hemp extracts to manage her problems with pain and sleep. After reaping the benefits of CBD herself, she has decided to share her passion for CBD oils with other people seeking natural and safe alternatives to conventional treatments.
The company offers a range of broad-spectrum CBD oils from certified organic hemp. They have a lot of positive reviews all over the internet; they also haven’t received any warning letter from the FDA regarding health claims or other ‘unfair’ practices.
Joy Organics focuses on broad-spectrum CBD formulations in a low potency range — from 450 to 900 mg of CBD per bottle. The stronger version features 30 mg of CBD per milliliter, which is a standard dose among daily users who use this product as a means of supplementation. These are one of the tastiest CBD oils I’ve tried to date; you can choose from three refreshing flavors: Fresh Lime, Tranquil Mint, and Summer Lemon.
In 2018, one of the company’s flavored CBD oils was found to be contaminated with a fungicide that is commonly sprayed on citrus fruits. Fortunately, Joy Organics has quickly fixed the problem by removing the flawed product batch and implementing new third-party testing systems to make sure such mistakes won’t happen again.
- Non-GMO, US-grown hemp
- Supercritical CO2 extraction
- Broad-spectrum CBD
- Delicious flavors
- A bit expensive
- No high-strength oils
What Are Migraines?
Migraines are severe headaches that can last for anywhere between 4–72 hours. They are perceived as a throbbing sensation usually affecting one side of the head.
Most often, it feels as if someone was trying to squeeze your skull while pounding it with a hammer at the same time.
Nothing enjoyable, to say the least.
Aside from the unbearable pain, migraines can also trigger other symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraine headaches affect more than 38 million people within the US alone. Women are three times as likely to suffer from migraines as men.
Migraines come in two distinct forms: with or without aura.
The vast majority of people (70–90%) experience migraines without aura. This type lasts between 4–72 hours and is accompanied by pulsating pain on one side of the head.
Migraine with aura is another common type that derives from neurological symptoms triggered by the headache. These symptoms include tunnel vision, flashing lights, and colored spots in the eyes, as well as blind spots in the field of vision.
Migraines can be both acute and chronic; chronic migraine lasts even 15 days in a month.
Scientists are still trying to figure out the exact cause of migraine headaches, but they believe them to result from alterations of chemicals, nerves, and blood vessels in the brain.
Common Migraine Treatment Options
If your migraines aren’t severe and result mostly from environmental triggers, you can learn to avoid them and thus reduce their frequency.
Consider using the following techniques:
- Stress management (behavioral therapy)
- Taking care of your sleep quality
- Avoiding allergens and bright lights
When these methods fail to deliver expected results, your physician will recommend one of the conventional treatment options.
Acknowledged migraine treatments include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers like acetaminophen
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen or aspirin)
- A combination of medicines that mix pain relievers and caffeine
- Anti-migraine prescription drugs, such as antidepressants, seizure medications, and beta-blockers
- Botox treatment
No treatment works for everyone, but some of these methods can reduce the frequency of migraine headaches and dampen the intensity once they start.
However, when absolutely none of the above methods relieves you from migraines, CBD oil may be your last hope.
Does CBD Help with Migraines?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of the 400+ compounds found in the cannabis plant. It’s the most abundant cannabinoid along with THC, but unlike THC, it has no psychoactive properties, meaning it won’t get you high.
CBD is a modulator to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It acts on the two sets of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) to help the ECS maintain the chemical balance in the body and brain.
In essence, CBD signals these receptors to produce more of the body’s own cannabinoids and makes them more available for the body by blocking the enzyme responsible for their breakdown.
Studies have shown that CBD can work as a painkiller, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotectant, hence the impressive number of its health benefits.
But how could CBD help with migraines? To answer that question, we need to examine the relationship between CBD and the endocannabinoid system closely.
Why Would CBD Oil Work for Migraines?
Although the research in this area is still in its infancy — mainly due to the federal restrictions on cannabis and its molecules until recently — there are some indications that CBD may assist migraine attacks or intense headaches.
Migraines & the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system has been proposed as a significant factor when it comes to migraines and its management through CBD administration.
According to a study published in the Journal Experimental Neurology, this system may be centrally and peripherally engaged in pain signaling. This may be caused by the endocannabinoids’ ability to inhibit the release of neurotransmitters responsible for perceiving pain via interaction with the CB1 receptor in the brain.
The authors of the paper suggest that the endocannabinoid system is where migraines may have their roots, and that CBD could serve as a promising tool for alleviating the physiological and inflammatory aspects of pain that are involved in migraine headaches.
CBD, Anandamide, and Migraines
If this theory proves accurate, then the lack of endocannabinoids within the ECS may just as well be a contributor to migraines. This condition, which is officially described as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, could be the cause of migraine headaches in many people.
Anandamide (or AEA), one of several endocannabinoids produced by the human body, has the ability to both increase and decrease the activity of serotonin receptors. A paper from Neurology Letters suggests that this feature can have therapeutic applications within the domain of migraines. Anandamide has also been shown to be tonically active within the gray matter of the brain, which is responsible for migraine generation.
Another research published in the Journal of Headache and Pain has investigated the role of AEA administration with animal models. The study confirmed that a compromised endocannabinoid system might cause the development of migraine attacks. The authors of the paper suggest that modulation of CB1 and CB2 receptors can be useful in the treatment of migraines.
CBD can manipulate AEA levels within the body and maintain its adequate concentrations in the brain, hence its potential to relieve migraine pain.
How to Use CBD Oil for Migraines?
There are several ways to use CBD oil for migraines. Each of the methods I describe in this section provides a slightly different type and duration of effects.
You can inhale CBD oil or concentrates for migraine relief. The healthiest and easiest method of inhaling CBD is vaporization, which means heating the CBD vape oil in a device called a vaporizer.
Vaporization only heats the material to the point where it releases CBD-rich vapor. You then inhale through the vaporizer’s mouthpiece.
Since there’s no combustion, vaping CBD oil doesn’t deliver harmful substances to your system.
But most importantly, vaporization has the highest bioavailability of all consumption methods. In other words, vaped CBD delivers more active substances than sublingual or oral CBD.
Research has shown that the bioavailability of vaporized cannabidiol ranges between 35–56%, which is about 1.5 times as much as sublingual products and 10–14 times as much as edibles.
In its most common form, CBD is applied sublingually. Once you measure out the necessary amount of CBD oil with a dropper, you squeeze the dose under your tongue and wait until it gets absorbed through a special membrane.
From there, CBD travels straight to the bloodstream. This helps the user to avoid the “first-pass effect” because cannabidiol doesn’t have to be processed by the liver. Usually, the ad hoc effects become noticeable after 20–30 minutes.
Sublingual CBD is a good option to consider for those migraine sufferers who want to steer clear of additives like propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, which are present in CBD vape oils.
Although CBD topicals offer the lowest bioavailability, they can be a viable option for fighting localized pain. Not only that, but topical products also soothe the nerves in your head that release Calcitonin Gene-related Peptide (CGRP) — a peptide that has been scientifically proven to trigger migraine headaches.
It turns out that chronic migraine sufferers have high levels of CGRP and low levels of endocannabinoids. According to a study published in the European Journal of Pain, topical CBD can reduce CGRP, inflammation, swelling, and pain in animal arthritis.
Potential Risks & Side Effects
Just as any health supplement, CBD oil can cause some side effects. However, these side effects are relatively minor and don’t put your health or life in danger — as long as you buy high-quality CBD oil from a trusted manufacturer.
That’s why people use it so eagerly.
The only side effects that may appear when you take too much CBD oil is dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, and dizziness. Rare cases include examples of diarrhea after consuming extremely high doses of CBD.
CBD blocks the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for processing drugs; given this, taking CBD oil along with many medicines may lead to increasing the concentration of these drugs in your system and cause “second-hand” side effects (not related to using CBD on its own).
That being said, it’s important that you talk to your doctor prior to buying CBD oil if you take any other medications it could potentially interact with.
Things to Do Before You Decide to Buy CBD Oil from Any Company
Buying CBD oil is an investment in your well-being, but as with any investment, you shouldn’t act on the spur of the moment.
When browsing through different brands and products, make sure you don’t miss out on any of the following points:
Ask for Lab Reports from 3rd-Party Testing
Lab analysis will tell you everything about CBD oil, from its CBD potency to the cannabinoid profile and terpenes to potential pollutants.
Every company has the option to submit a sample of their product to a third-party laboratory for examination. If there are any inconsistencies in the potency, or the product turns out contaminated, the lab test will detect it.
Therefore, if a company isn’t honest about how they test their CBD oil and they don’t show lab reports anywhere on their website — even on request — that’s an instant red light.
Choose the Right Potency
The potency of CBD oil is measured in milligrams of CBD per one milliliter of the liquid. Lower potencies are designed rather for preventive supplementation or to fight mild symptoms, so options like 100mg or 250mg of CBD will suit you if you’re new to CBD oil or if you suffer from headaches caused by weather or changes in pressure.
On the other hand, if your migraine symptoms are on the verge of manageable and you’ve used up other resources, then opt for potencies of 1000mg and up — preferably with the full spectrum of cannabinoids.
Which brings us to the next point.
Opt for Full-spectrum CBD Extracts
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytonutrients from hemp.
Research shows there’s a unique synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes which greatly increases their effects — this concept is known as the entourage effect. Simply put, the aforementioned compounds are more effective together than each of them in isolation.
Studies suggest that full-spectrum extracts are superior to isolates in easing pain and inflammation, both of which affect migraine sufferers.
CBD Oil for Migraines: Can It Really Help?
While the research on CBD and migraines is in its early stages, what we already know is that this cannabinoid may be a potent anti-migraine agent with some potential to reduce or even eliminate migraine headaches for good.
If the theory that migraines are caused by endocannabinoid deficiencies finds confirmation in clinical human studies, we may finally find an effective tool for easing the symptoms of this painful condition and fixing the problem at its roots.
I hope this article has helped you understand the apparent relationship between CBD, the endocannabinoid system, and migraines — and that you’ll find the best CBD oil to relieve yourself from that crippling pain.
What’s your experience with using CBD oil for migraines?
- Greco, R., Gasperi, B., Maccarrone, M. & Tassorelli C. (2010) The Endocannabinoid System and Migraine. Experimental Neurology, 224(1), 85–91.
- Russo, E.B. (2008) Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD): Can This Concept Explain Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Other Treatment-resistant Conditions? Neuroendocrinology Letters, 29(2), 192–200.
- Greco, R., Mangione A.S., Sandrini, G., Maccarrone, M., Nappi, G., Tassorelli, C. (2011). Effects of Anandamide in Migraine: Data from an Animal Model. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 12(2), 177–183.
- De Petrocellis, L., Di Marzo, V. (2010). Non-CB1, non-CB2 Receptors for Endocannabinoids, Plant Cannabinoids, and Synthetic Cannabimimetics: Focus on G-protein-coupled Receptors and Transient Receptor Potential Channels. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology: the Official Journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology, 5(1), 103–121.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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Best CBD Oil for Migraines & Headaches: Benefits, Dosage, & Side-Effects
Migraines can turn an otherwise normal day into a complete write-off — and they’re notoriously hard to treat.
CBD may help by regulating serotonin release, fighting inflammation, controlling vascular spasm, and more.
Migraine headaches are the most common neurological disorder in the Western world . They affect roughly 6% of males and 18 % of females every year.
Most of the treatments for migraines involve prophylactic and/or symptomatic support rather than addressing the underlying cause.
One of the best candidates as a new, effective treatment for migraine headaches is cannabidiol (CBD) from the hemp plant.
In this article, you’ll learn how CBD can help with migraines, how much CBD oil to use, and where to find the best CBD oils for cluster headaches and migraines.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Carlos G. Aguirre, M.D., Pediatric Neurologist
Updated on November 13, 2021
Table of Contents
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Can CBD Oil Help With Migraines?
One of the most common traditional the cannabis plant is for treating headaches.
Over the past few years there’s been a lot of research exploring the impact of CBD and other cannabis-derivatives for treating migraines and other forms of headaches.
Hemp extracts have so far been proven effective for chronic headaches , migraine headaches , headaches resulting from medications , cluster headaches , intracranial hypertension , and multiple sclerosis neuropathic head pain (trigeminal neuralgia) .
CBD (cannabidiol) is the primary compound responsible for the painkilling benefits of the plant and the most relevant compound for the anti-migraine effects.
Other related compounds (called cannabinoids) offer additional support. The best CBD oils for migraine headaches are made from a full-spectrum extract that contains a variety of active ingredients — such as CBG (cannabigerol), CBC (cannabichromene), THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and several hemp-derived terpenes.
All of these compounds work alongside CBD to support the painkilling effects of CBD and provide other anti-migraine benefits.
Some of these compounds prevent the release of serotonin from platelet cells (one of the main causes for migraine attacks), others regulate inflammation and blood flow to the brain.
The benefits of CBD oil for migraines include:
- May prevent serotonin-related causses
- Inhibits brain inflammation
- Prevents or alleviates vascular spasms
- Alleviates head pain
1. May Prevent Serotonin-Release (Cause For Migraines)
We’ve long known about the ability for cannabis to inhibit the release of serotonin from the platelets .
This effect could help prevent and treat migraines caused by excessive serotonin release from platelets — which is one of the predominant theories for the underlying cause of migrane attacks (more on this later).
Interestingly, this same effect on serotonin release is also considered one of the primary ways CBD can be used to treat nausea and vomiting, which are also common symptoms associated with migraine headaches.
2. Inhibits Brain Inflammation
One of the ways marijuana was used in the past to treat headaches, was by wrapping its wet leaves around the head and neck for several hours at a time . This practice, mainly documented among the Sumerians, is most likely a direct result of these anti-inflammatory effects.
Modern treatments of migraines often involve anti-inflammatories such as Aspirin or Tylenol.
CBD exerts its effects through a number of different anti-inflammatory mechanisms including adenosine  and NF-kB . Both of these inflammatory channels are considered the primary causes of migraine headaches.
3. Reduces Vascular Spasms
The trigeminal nerve is responsible for causing the vascular system in the brain to spasm out of control — causing cluster headaches and migraines.
One of the main reasons this happens is hyperactivity involving the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)/glutamate system. This system is responsible for causing many of the stimulating activities in the brain.
It’s like the gas pedal in the car. Once activated, RPM increases and the car goes faster.
In the brain, it’s very similar — when NMDA is active, your neurons fire faster and faster.
Much like a car, the brain also has a brake pedal. We call this Gamma-aminobutyric acid – or GABA. It slows us down and helps us relax, directly opposing the effects of NMDA.
In some cases, NMDA activity can go out of control, causing the trigeminal nerve controlling the vascular system in the brain to go haywire and spasm. This results in severe migraine headaches, which can last hours on end.
CBD slows this process down by stepping on the brake pedal (GABA) , similar to Valproic Acid, slowing everything down, and stopping the arterial system spasm.
4. Alleviates Head Pain
CBD is a master modulator. This means that it doesn’t work on any single pathway, forcing it in one direction or another.
This effect allows CBD to help regulate how much pain we perceive. Like playing with the volume control on your speaker system it can help “turn down” the volume on pain.
When we experience migraine headaches, the pain volume is cranked all the way up.
CBD helps promote the processes that are meant to control this by telling some of the responsible receptors (such as the TRPV1 and opioid receptors) to step up and turn the volume back down to an appropriate level.
There are 10 times as many CB1 receptors as there are mu-opioid receptors in our central nervous system and pain pathways [16,17]. This means the CB1 endocannabinoid receptors are likely a key regulator of pain sensation within the brain, and intimately involved with the regulation of migraine or cluster headache-related pain.
What’s the Dose of CBD Oil for Migraine Headaches?
Dosing CBD can be a challenge, especially since it tends to react differently in everybody.
For some people, a small dose is all that’s needed to produce effects, while others need much larger doses. This can make dosing difficult at first, but once you understand how it works in your body, it’s very straightforward.
There are some general CBD dosage guidelines you can follow for figuring out the right dose to start with, and how to dial it effectively.
With that said, it’s important to note that many people who are prone to migraines tend to be more sensitive to chemicals. For this reason, we recommend starting slightly below the lowest recommended dosage for your weight and build up slowly from there.
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How Long Should I Use CBD Oil for Migraines?
The key to using CBD oil effectively for migraines is to use it regularly over long periods of time, in addition to your routine prescriptions.
By taking small doses of the oil throughout the day – usually once in the morning and once in the evening — you’ll be able to improve your body’s natural ability to maintain neurovascular balance and avoid spiraling out of control into a debilitating migraine attack.
Many people taking CBD oil for this will increase the dose when they feel a migraine attack coming on to stop it in its tracks or reduce its overall severity.
For example, a migraine sufferer might take 5 mg worth of CBD in the morning and 5 mg in the evenings most days. When they feel a migraine coming on, they take another 5 mg every 2 or 3 hours until it subsides. However, you should also keep taking your prescription medications for prevention and treatment.
What are Migraines?
Migraines are a type of severe, recurring headache accompanied by at least one, or various, physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound.
In many cases, these headaches only affect one side of the head and cause throbbing pain. They may also be agitated by movement, and are of enough intensity to interfere with daily function.
Migraines typically last 4-8 hours (typically all day), but can last as long as three days (72 hours).
Along with headaches, migraine sufferers also commonly experience other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, as well as visual disturbances.
Four Phases of Migraine Headaches
Migraines tend to have distinct phases. These aren’t always present, and they can vary a lot from one episode to the next.
Phase 1: Prodromal Phase
This phase can begin either days, hours, or minutes before a migraine attack — it’s a common warning sign that a migraine is soon to ensue.
It may involve a wide variety of symptoms that appear before the actual headache. People with chronic migraines tend to learn what their triggers and early symptoms usually are. These feelings should prompt people to take their preventive medications.
Some common symptoms of the prodromal phase include:
Phase 2: Aura Phase
During the aura phase, people experience strange changes in their vision and/or perception. It can change the way colors look, how we interpret smell and taste and can alter our mood dramatically.
The aura phase typically lasts about 1 to 2 hours.
For most people who experience regular migraines, this is the most reliable indication that they are about to have an episode. Some people can even estimate how severe their migraine will be from the severity of the aura phase.
Symptoms of the aura phase can include:
- Vision disturbances
- Changes in perception of taste, light, smell, sound, and touch
- Speech or language problems
- A spinning sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Auditory or visual hallucinations
Phase 3: Pain (Headache) Phase
This is the main phase we think of when we talk about migraines.
This phase can vary a lot in severity and is usually very unpredictable, even in people who have regular episodes of migraine headaches.
In most cases, migraine headaches only affect one side of the head but can affect both sides equally as well. Some people feel the pain at the front of the head, others at the back, and some in the center.
However, if you suddenly experience the worst headache of your life that feels like a clap of thunder all over your head, or have had a migraine for over 72 hours, please go to your nearest emergency department right away.
Symptoms of the pain phase include:
Phase 4: Postdrome Phase
The postdrome phase happens after a migraine has settled.
Many people who experience these say they resemble a hangover but can last for several days. Some will even feel pressure or low-grade pain in the places where most of their migraine affected.
It can leave people feeling fatigued and depressed for a few days after the event.
In some cases, people may find that during this phase they feel unusually refreshed and clear-headed. Some reports even suggest a euphoric state for as long as a week after the event.
What Causes Migraine Headaches?
Migraine headaches tend to be very elusive to researchers. They’re hard to predict and even harder to trace back to any particular cause. Migraine headaches tend to be very elusive, however, researchers today have a better understanding of the basis of migraines.
From stress and hormone levels to allergies and chemical exposure — these are all considered factors and potential causes for migraines but can vary a lot from one person to the next.
Common Migraine Triggers
- Mental — Stress, emotional upset
- Endogenous — Hormonal changes, fasting, fatigue, sleep disturbances
- Exogenous — Certain foods (chocolate, wine, aged cheese, etc.), alcohol, smoke, allergens, nitrates, oral contraceptives, glutamate, tyramine
- Other — Weather, bright colors, odors, temperature changes, altitude
One of the main factors new research is investigating is hormone levels.
This is because migraines are more common in young boys just before puberty and 2 or 3 times more likely in women than men. Additionally, migraines tend to decrease during pregnancy and menopause.
All of these factors can be traced back to fluctuations in hormone levels, though scientists still don’t know exactly how this works, but there are several strong theories as we’ve listed below.
There are several prominent theories at play  which are most likely the actual causes of hormone-related migraines including:
- Serotonin/platelet theory
- Sensitization of peripheral and central brain areas from inflammation
- Muscular spasms of the veins and arteries
Let’s cover some of the main ones now and how they’re correlated with CBD.
1. Serotonin & Platelet Theory
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and has many roles in the body. It regulates much of our emotion, sexual function, hormone balance, and memory.
One of the leading theories for the cause of migraines is an excessive release of serotonin from platelet triggers.
What does this mean?
A platelet is a type of cell that floats around in the bloodstream and plays an important role in the way we monitor and control coagulation and inflammation in the body — among other things. One of the ways we do this is by releasing small amounts of serotonin.
In some cases, these platelets can overreact to the situation and dump large amounts of serotonin into the bloodstream, causing blood vessels to widen and lose pressure. This essentially causes regions located near the area to go into shock .
When this happens in the blood vessels of the brain, it can cause the widening of blood vessels and release of inflammatory signals causing symptoms such as severe pain, disorientation, and hypersensitivity to stimuli like sight and smell.
What this means: If we can stop the excessive release of serotonin from the platelet cells, we may be able to stop or prevent migraine headaches.
2. Inflammation (Sensitization)
We need inflammation to stay healthy.
It’s our bodies’ way to trap and destroy invading bacteria and viruses. Inflammation promotes healing and prevents further damage to the body by causing pain and redness which reminds us to be careful with that part of the body.
Unfortunately, inflammation can go out of control causing many different health problems for the body.
One such problem is migraine headaches.
A protein found inside the cells, known as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB for short) is responsible for regulating the creation of inflammatory compounds in the cells.
NF-kB is a major driving factor behind migraine headaches. When this protein goes out of balance, it can cause an overabundance of inflammatory messengers called cytokines (IL-1B, IL-6, and TNF-a). These messengers then trigger a wave of inflammation and pain in the nervous system. .
Since these messengers are short-lived, the problem usually subsides within several hours, causing the migraine to typically last all day, and before gradually disappearing.
This cause is especially common in people who tend to be over-reactive to foods and other allergens. People who suffer from asthma and hay fever are also at a higher risk for migraines caused by this effect.
What this means: If we can stop the overactivation of NF-kB, we may be able to prevent migraines.
3. Muscular Spasms of the Veins and Arteries
All of our arteries have a thin layer of muscle lining them.
These muscles are designed to expand and contract to control our blood pressure and to allow us to shunt blood into vital organs such as the brain when need be.
A good example of when do this is when we’re out in the cold.
To preserve the core body temperature, the blood vessels in our hands, feet, and nose will tighten to slow blood flow in the area. This helps to keep the warm blood closer to the internal organs.
There are other reasons for shunting blood as well, such as after a meal when we need more blood flow to the digestive organs or after a traumatic injury where we need to bring fresh oxygen and nutrients to the damaged site.
This system is especially sensitive in the delicate regions of the brain.
When the trigeminal ganglion is activated by the cortical spreading depression, it releases pro-inflammatory molecules onto] the muscles controlling its blood vessels that can widen and spasm, causing severe migraine headaches.
What this means: If we can stop excessive vascular spasms among the arteries feeding the brain, we can stop migraines.
How Are Migraine Headaches Treated?
Treating migraines focuses on both prevention as well as treatment, but still involves a lot of trial and error, as well as time due to everyone’s unique chemistry.
This is because the medications used to address any of the three causes of migraines are different, and it takes up to 6 weeks for a medication to build up enough to have any effect.
Most of the drugs for migraines have about a >50% chance of working after several weeks. If one medication doesn’t work, doctors will usually move on to another one. If your migraines happen 15 or more days per month, then scalp botox injections are also an effective new, insurance-covered prevention option.
Most people who suffer migraines will use [their preventive medications and prescriptions. However, milder migraine sufferers may use] over the counter pain medications such as Excedrin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Aspirin, however, this only helps curb the intensity of mild episodes. They do little for actually clearing up a migraine and are rarely strong enough to completely alleviate symptoms. Most often they’re used in conjunction with routine prescription medication.
Treatment Options for Migraine Headaches:
Most of these medications come with a long list of negative side effects such as ulcers, heart vessel spasms, kidney damage. Unfortunately for some people, there is only minimal relief available from migraine headaches.
For this reason, many people who suffer recurrent migraines are turning for help from a different source of medicine. It’s important to note that many medications interact with CBD and other alternative treatments.
Herbal Medicine for Migraines
There are obvious benefits to conventional medicine over plant-based medicine. However, this is not the case for migraine headaches.
There are many herbs with well-established benefits of treating and preventing migraine headaches.
Feverfew, for example, is a small plant in the daisy family that offers direct improvements on all three processes thought to be causing migraine headaches .
Another plant that has shown significant potential in addressing the causes and symptoms of migraine headaches is the cannabis plant.
Plants such as these often contain dozens, if not hundreds of different chemicals. Unlike pharmaceuticals, this makes it difficult to characterize each compound’s precise effects, giving them the added benefit of providing what we could call a multifaceted approach to treatment.
This means that the series of chemicals contained in cannabis may possibly offer similar benefits for a medical condition, but do it through different mechanisms.
For example, the cannabis plant contains as many as 80 different cannabinoids and well over 100 different terpenes in its leaves and resin.
Some of these cannabinoids help to stop arterial spasms, others stabilize immune cells and more.
By providing multiple therapeutic avenues for a particular condition, and by sharing many common underlying mechanisms, cannabis could potentially stand a better chance of fixing the problem.
This is a common technique oncologists use to fight cancer. By using a cocktail of chemotherapeutic drugs, each with slightly different modes of action, they get a far greater chance of choosing the right one and curing their patient’s cancer.
Key Takeaways: Can CBD Oil Help With Migraines?
Migraines are many things— common, debilitating, and mysterious.
Doctors and neuroscientists still don’t have a definitive explanation for what causes them or how to stop them.
There are, however, a lot of promising theories that we can start with when looking for treatments for the condition. From what is known, there are common pathways that CBD may also act upon to help.
CBD oil has recently been on the rise as a new and potentially effective migraine treatment and prevention method. It works through several different yet related pathways to resist the processes driving migraine headaches.
It’s likely that we’ll see this use of CBD and CBD oil become a standard adjunctive treatment for the condition in the next few years as more research sheds light on the incredible benefits of this humble plant extract.