If you suffer from migraines, there are two things that probably irritate you the most.
First — the debilitating migraine headache itself.
Second — your friends who 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.
My Top 5 Brand Recommendations for CBD Oil & Migraines
Buying CBD oil online is a hard nut to crack.
Most people don’t have the time for reading 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
- Their products are available as full-spectrum or “zero-THC”
- up to 33.3 mg of CBD per mL (1000mg bottle)
- Every batch of product has been tested by independent labs
- Their CBD is sourced from American-grown hemp
- The natural flavor tastes great
- Their CBD oil is full-spectrum — this may not be an ideal option for some CBD users, e.g. pregnant women.
- 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 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. 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 really 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
- 5 potencies 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.
This means their CBD oils can be applied for different levels of pain. I’ve been using their 1000mg bottle to prevent migraines and mitigate the pain when they somehow decided to appear. It did exactly what it had to do; my body was calmer and I could fall asleep without that throbbing sensation at the side of my head.
- 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 CBD oil as a preventative supplement or 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.
5. NuLeaf Naturals
- Their CBD comes from domestic hemp
- NuLeaf obtains their 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 amazing 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.
What Are Migraines?
Migraines are severe headaches that can last for anywhere between 4–72 hours. They are perceived as a throbbing sensation affecting usually 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, 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 migraine 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.
What is CBD?
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 closely examine the relationship between CBD and the endocannabinoid system.
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 fairly recently — there are some indications that CBD may assist migraine headaches.
Migraines & the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system has been proposed as a large 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 migraine. 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 may 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 is able to 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 the 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 of the 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.
There’s also a risk of potential drug interactions.
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 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 the 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.