Does CBD Oil Work for Migraines? Benefits & Risks

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CBD oil for migraines and headaches is increasingly becoming a popular and effective treatment for people, like you, who live with these debilitating headaches.

The question is, does CBD help migraines?

After treating thousands of people who suffer from migraines with CBD oil, I will share with you my thoughts on how effective CBD for migraines is and what you can do to live a migraine-free life.

What is Migraine?

Does CBD Help Migraines

A migraine is no ordinary “I am tired” headache. If you have experienced a migraine, you will know what I mean.

It is an intense crippling pain that wipes you out and writes the entire day off. It leaves you unable to function. The idea of continuing work, study, cook or look after the kids is thrown right out the window.

You may find yourself needing to isolate from the world into a dark corner, swallow a bunch of pharmaceutical tablets and then doze off to sleep. This is after possibly vomiting once or twice off course.

Light and noise become your worst enemy as they usually just make it worse.

Although the headache resolves usually within the day, you spend the next few days recovering and putting yourself together again.

You just wish it was over and would never happen again, ever. But you know deep inside that you live day to day anxious that the migraine can come back at any time.

Is this sounding familiar?

How common are migraines?

Migraines are more common than we think. They also affect people to different degrees, some worse than others.

The reality is about 10% of New Zealander’s get migraines! And women are three times more likely.

CBD for Headaches

Migraines are often onset by triggers, including stress, insomnia, hormonal changes, bright or flashing light, even certain smells – it depends on the person.

One-third of chronic migraine sufferers can predict when a migraine is coming because they see an “aura.” Also unique to the individual, these “auras” can appear as flashing lights, zig-zag lines, or temporary loss of vision.

Migraines affect 10% of the population with women 3 times more likely to be affected.

What is Migraine?

CBD for migraines can reduce the frequency of attacks by 56%. CBD oil can also reduce the intensity of migraine attacks by 50%.

For those who are having a migraine attack, 29% found that it stopped their headache completely.

Although these are by no means considered to be conclusive results, they do indicate just how effective medicinal cannabis can be for treating migraines.

In another study, 1655 people using medicinal CBD and THC for migraines found that 40.8% of people found significant improvement in their migraines.

So the idea here is that we have evidence and information to suggest that CBD oil can indeed be an effective treatment for migraines.

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There are also many people who are self medicating with CBD oil for migraines themselves. For example, in a 2015 survey by Care By Design which included 2495 people using CBD oil, in 100% of cases, the CBD oil decreased pain. All patients (100%) with headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and spinal cord injury reported a decrease in pain or discomfort.

My own experience in treating thousands of migraine sufferers with CBD oil is that about 50% of people find a positive benefit in reduced migraine frequency and intensity. One of our own doctors at the clinic has also experienced this first-hand.

CBD HEMP Oil for Migraines

But CBD oil is a natural, plant-based medicine, so people seem to react differently to it and in differing doses.

Which CBD Oil Products Work Best for Migraines?

I usually recommend that patients use CBD oil on a continual daily basis as a preventative measure for migraines. Usually, this means taking about 50 – 100mg of CBD oil. I have found this to be an effective means to reducing the frequency of migraine attacks.

When having a migraine attack, I encourage the use of inhaled CBD as opposed to CBD oil. Inhaled CBD (either as a vape or flower) works much faster than having it in an oil form.

Oils usually take 30 – 60 minutes to become effective whereas inhaled CBD enters the blood stream within a few minutes.

Using THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, also becomes important here. THC works very well with CBD when it comes to treating an episode of acute pain due to a migraine attack.

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There is a wide range of CBD oil and medicinal cannabis products available and choosing the right one for you is important

Which CBD Oil Products Work Best for Migraines?

CBD oil works on a hormonal system inside your body called the endocannabinoid system. It is thought that those with a deficiency in this system are more likely to get migraines and using CBD for migraine helps reduce this deficiency.

This endocannabinoid system is a multi organ system and responsible for many functions in your body, from pain to appetite. As I have talked about previously, many organ systems in the body contain receptors for cannabinoid chemicals and your body makes it own version of it.

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2007 study showed that those who have migraines had a below average level of Anandamide, a type of cannabinoid chemical your body makes naturally.

This may be why so many people find relief in using cannabis.

Dr Ethan Russo, both a neurologist and cannabinoid researcher, has combined years of expertise and research and was the one to come up with the “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency” theory and idea.

It is exactly what it sounds: a deficiency in your body’s own endocannabinoid system may be responsible for many “unexplained” diagnoses, such as migraines, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.

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What about other medications that reduce migraines?

Your doctor may have suggested starting medications to prevent migraines. This is usually using amitriptyline, nortriptyline, propanolol gabapentin or sodium valproate.

However, this is not a decision to take lightly. Let me tell you why.

Let’s look at a commonly used medication, amitriptyline. This medicine is also used as an anti-depressant and for chronic nerve type pain in general.

Does it work? Yes. Does it have side effects? Yes. The image below is pulled directly from the New Zealand Formulary:

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That’s a long list of potential side effects.

Let’s have a look at another commonly used migraine preventing medicine: propranolol. This is what is called a beta blocker. It works by binding to beta receptors in your body and is used in those who have had heart attacks and heart problems in the past. Again, look below to see the list of side effects:

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Why do we as a society place more taboo on using a plant based supplement, CBD oil, compared to taking such strong medications with so many side effects?

There is no convincing answer to this! CBD oil has been shown to be well tolerated with few potential side effects. It is non-addictive and has no potential for abuse. Does CBD oil help with migraines? If that’s the case, it presents itself as an excellent option instead of having to take daily pharmaceutical medication.

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CBD Oil and Migraines: How long has it been used for treating migraines?

CBD oil and medicinal cannabis use dates back thousands of years to treat various ailments.

As a matter of fact, Chinese history makes the first mention of marijuana in 2900BC when Emperor Fu Shi and emperor Shennong documented it’s healing properties for malaria, gout and rheumatism. Cannabis is one of the “50 fundamental herbs” in Chinese medicine and used to treat multiple disorders.

As noted above, it works on the endocannabinoid system present in the body.


Medicinal cannabis and CBD oil has been used for thousands of years to treat health conditions and promote wellbeing.

How Do I Get CBD Oil?

CBD oil is a prescription-only medicine in NZ and is available in other countries without a prescription.

You can speak to one of our medicinal cannabis specialists and then access a wide range of products, such as hemp oil for headaches, through our Dispensary.

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CBD hemp oil for migraines can be an effective treatment and can reduce the frequency of attacks by 56%.

Using CBD for headaches daily can be effective as a prevention for migraines while using CBD and THC through inhaled means can be effective for treating a migraine attack.

Consult with one of our medicinal cannabis specialists to discuss using CBD oil for migraines or access the widest range of CBD oil products through our dispensary.

Consult with one of our medicinal cannabis specialists

Friendly Reminder: The above article is not a substitute for medical advice from a health care professional and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your doctor or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard medical advice or postpone consultation with your health care professional because of information that you have read on this website.


MBChB (Otago), BSc (Auckland) - As our tele-medicine doctor and author, Dr. Waseem keeps busy educating both patients and doctors about medicinal cannabis. He also consults with people from all over New Zealand, offering a listening ear and giving the most relevant advice.

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