Migraine headaches can be difficult to treat, which is why many sufferers turn to alternative solutions. One such option is CBD, the beneficial, non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis plants.
There’s growing evidence that migraines and certain other conditions may be caused by a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system.
Since CBD and other cannabis compounds can influence this system, they may have a positive effect on migraines.
Unfortunately, there are no human studies of CBD use for this debilitating condition. However, research on whole-plant cannabis, which contains CBD, is promising.
Here’s what science tells us about using CBD for migraines.
How CBD Can Help
CBD may help relieve migraines by interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Consisting of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2), the endocannabinoids your body makes, and certain enzymes, this system regulates brain function, pain, immunity, metabolism, and other essential processes.
Its job is to keep your body in a balanced state called homeostasis.
Recent research suggests that dysfunction of the ECS called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CED) may lead to migraines and some other conditions.
Most notably, one study compared the cerebrospinal fluid levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide in healthy adults and those with chronic migraines.
The researchers found that migraine sufferers had reduced anandamide, suggesting that their ECS was not working properly.
Since CBD can reduce the breakdown of anandamide and increase its levels, it may help with both endocannabinoid deficiency and migraines.
At this time, there are no human studies of CBD use for migraines.
However, research has shown that whole-plant cannabis — which contains CBD, THC, and other cannabis-derived compounds — may help:
In a study of 316 chronic migraine patients, 279 people (88%) experienced significant improvements, with fewer headaches every month.
In a similar study of 699 people with regular and migraine headaches, 94% of the participants experienced headache relief within two hours of inhaling cannabis.
A study of 121 people with migraines found that 85% experienced fewer migraines when using medical cannabis.
A study that recorded thousands of sessions of cannabis use found that it relieved both regular and migraine headaches.
These findings suggest that a combination of THC, CBD, and other active cannabis compounds may relieve migraines. However, studies using pure CBD or whole-plant hemp extracts rich in CBD are needed.
Is CBD Safe?
According to decades of research, CBD is a generally safe compound. A 2018 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that CBD is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
While CBD can cause side effects, they’re mostly minor and only tend to occur when you take large doses of pure CBD.
The most common side effects of CBD are drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth, and diarrhea.
The Best Way to Use CBD for Migraines
There isn’t enough evidence to say that CBD will relieve or stop your migraines. However, considering its safety, CBD is certainly worth giving a try.
The first and most important tip for using CBD for migraines is to go with a full-spectrum CBD product. Full-spectrum extracts contain the full range of phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial hemp compounds.
The second tip is to use either CBD oil or CBD vape e-liquid. These forms of CBD are more potent and act faster than other types of CBD products, which is ideal for a debilitating condition such as migraines.
You can either use these products regularly or take them as soon as you feel a migraine headache coming on.
As one last tip, make sure that your product has relatively high strength. Although the ideal CBD dosage is different for everyone, migraines are a serious condition so they typically require larger amounts of CBD.
It’s best to use a product with a concentration of 30 mg of CBD per ml or higher. To find this number, simply divide the total CBD amount by the volume.
For example, a 30 ml CBD oil with 1000 mg of CBD has a strength of 1000/30= 33 mg/ml.