CBD for Migraine: Does it help?

CBD for Migraine: Does it help?

CBD for Migraine: Does it help?

What is migraine?

A migraine is a type of headache that causes throbbing and pulsating pain in one side of the head. 

Migraine often progresses via 4 stages, including prodrome, aura, migraine attack, and psot-drome. However, not everyone experiences all the stages. Aura is warning symptoms, such as visual disturbance, tingling in legs or arms, that occur before the migraine. Following this, the migraine attacks appear, lasting from 4 to 72 hours with the symptoms of throbbing and pulsating pain in one side of head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to sound and light. While there are known medications for migraine, they are associated with side effects and don’t work effectively in some cases. Given alternative options, the researchers are taking a closer look at a potential substance which is cannabidiol (CBD) - a phytocannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis.

Read on to learn more about CBD use for migraine

What do the researchers say?

Decrease in migraine frequency followed by medical cannabis treatment 

This is a questionnaire-based study published in the journal of Brain science to measure the effectiveness of medical cannabis to reduce migraine episodes. A total of 145 patients diagnosed with migraine were retrospectively classified responders and non-responders to medical cannabis therapy. Responders were defined as over 50% decrease in migraine attack frequency following medical cannabis treatment and vice versa. On average, the duration of treatment with cannabis was three years, and patients can smoke or vape cannabis. Compared to only 39% non-responders, 61% of patients reported lower migraine disability, negative impact, and rates of opioids or triptans consumption. These findings suggested that medical cannabis therapy helps over 60% of patients with migraine to reduce migraine attacks, drug dependence and improve quality of life [1].

Short- and long-term effects of cannabis on headache and migraine

In 2019, a research team analyzed Canadian data from medical cannabis application (strainprint) to examine the association between inhaled cannabis usage and their effects on migraine severity and rates of symptoms. This app allows patients to track symptoms after and before different dose, strain and type of medical cannabis, such as THC, CBD, combination of them, etc. After analyzing 7441 sessions where cannabis was inhaled to treat migraine, there was significant reduction in migraine severity rating by about 49.6% following cannabis use. Additionally, cannabis doesn’t appear to cause drug-induced headaches that are common in acetaminophen, opioids. Thus, CBD doesn’t make migraine worse overtime although cannabis tolerance was recognized [2].

In 2018, a study was published in the journal of headache pain to create patterns of medical cannabis use for migraine, headache chronic pain, and so on. Besides the primary goals, it also showed potential benefits of medical cannabis in improving nausea and vomiting which are regular symptoms associated with migraine [3].

In general, natural cannabis, like cannabidiol (CBD), may help patients with migraine to alleviate the severity, reduce the symptoms, and improve disability. The routes of taking cannabis are mainly oral, sublingual, as well as inhaled. The adverse events were mild or moderate, such as dizziness, dry mouth. Despite side effects, patients still have positive views of using medical cannabis with medications since it is effective to decrease the duration and frequency of migraine [4].

Choosing the right dose of CBD

There is no one size fits all dosage for CBD. What’s optimal mainly depends on a range of factors, such as body weight, tolerance, symptoms, metabolism, and so on. These factors can yield unique effects for each CBD consumer. Keep in mind that you should pay close attention to how you feel after each dose. It might not occur immediately, and you should be patient to remember that you’re unlikely to get immediate results. As soon as you experience positive effects, lock in that dose and stick with it.

With oral route, start at a dose of 20 milligrams per day (using twice or three times a day) and increase the dose gradually to achieve desirable effects. Do not increase or decrease your dose more often or longer than recommended. Your condition may not improve faster, your risks of side effects will increase.

The recommended dosage forms are CBD capsule and CBD oil. As compared to capsule, CBD oil is extremely versatile because it can be taken under the tongue or smoked with vaping devices.

How to use

Taking capsules is the simplest and most convenient way to use CBD. You only need to swallow the capsule with at least 300 ml of water. The drawbacks of the oral route are low availability and delayed onset of effects.

There are some ways to take CBD oil, and we will provide two most common and effective methods to use CBD in this section.

Firstly, applying CBD sublingually is incredibly easy. CBD oil needs to be put under the tongue and held from 60 to 120 seconds without swallowing to allow adequate time for CBD to diffuse completely across the epithelial cells. The method remains the same when you use CBD oils or tinctures. You must hold the CBD under the tongue since different areas of the mouth might not be permeable enough for diffusion into the bloodstream. Taking CBD sublingually provides fast onset of action and high bioavailability.

Vaping CBD seems to be slightly more difficult than taking CBD sublingually. The first step to vaping properly is to determine how much CBD you consume each time. If you feel unconfident at first,  you should start with the easiest option. Disposable cartridges and pods are the simplest tools for new users. Refillable vape pens are a little bit more advanced but more cost-effective in the long term. It is important to read the instructions carefully before using them.

Notice about using CBD for Migraine

How you choose the best CBD products for Nausea and Vomiting

Overall, it is vital that your doctor check your improvements, disease progression, side effects, and interaction with food or drugs at regular visits to make sure CBD is working properly.

  • Notice any side effects and tell your doctor right away.
  • Don’t take other medicine (including ETC, OTC medicines, herbal, or vitamin supplements) unless they have been discussed with your doctor.

As regards CBD products, they are made by a company that provides 

  • Third-party test
  • Business certification
  • Certificate of analysis (COA), no contain more than 0.3% THC and pass tests for heavy metals, pesticides, etc.
  • Source of their hemp
  • Product information (Brand, CBD content, ingredients, potency, route of administration, indication, instruction)
  • Customers’ review
  • No subject of FDA warning letter or make any unsupported health claim

If you use CBD by taking it under the tongue or vaping, there are a few things that you should take into account. We will provide details in the following section.

Applying CBD sublingually

- Shake well before use

- Determine the number of drops in accordance with the dose of CBD consuming each time

- Start at a low dose as we recommend above and increase the dose to have the therapeutic effects.

- Hold the CBD under the tongue for at least 60 seconds

- Accidentally swallowing the CBD oil won’t pose any risks  to your body. However, once you swallow this substance, you no longer take it sublingually. Instead, you are eating it, which means that it has to pass the digestive system and metabolism before your body can utilize it. Although it’s not dangerous, it does mean decreased bioavailability and slower onset of action.

Vaping CBD

- Determine your suitable CBD dosage, the number of puffs each time, and types of CBD vape

- Read carefully the user manual, especially if you are a new user

- Wait 5 – 10 minutes between puffs and observe how CBD affects you

- Always start at low dose, and work your way up to the optimal dose

- After inhaling, you should check the battery life or clean the vape tank if needed


Should patients use CBD for migraine?

In the right patients, CBD may have a promising role, especially for those who haven’t responded to conventional therapies. Given the mild side effects of CBD, it may be a safe thing to try. However, you should consult with your doctor to take CBD in an effective way and avoid any potential risks.


[1]. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/6/360

[2]. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S152659001930848X

[3]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29797104/

[4]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8459575/


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