5 Best CBD Hemp Oils for Migraine
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We found 5 CBD hemp oils for migraine that meet our experts' quality standards.
CBD hemp oil for migraine
If you’re among the 12 percent of people suffering from migraines—excruciating headaches triggered by everything from stress to skipping meals to looking at stripes—you might be curious about the best CBD hemp oil for migraines.
Migraine sufferers can also experience nausea and vomiting, and may have what’s known as an aura—a series of sensory disturbances including flashes of light, blind spots, and other vision changes—that arise before an attack. There’s no cure for migraines. But figuring out your migraine triggers and finding ways to avoid them helps. Prescription medications are also available to prevent migraines and treat migraine pain. (Here are proven migraine remedies that actually work.)
Many migraineurs find that cannabidiol, or CBD, can be helpful, taken orally as CBD hemp oil and even applied topically. “A lot of people with migraines have sore, stiff, achy necks, and this helps them,” says Stephen Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center and a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
“There seems to be a lot of evidence that topical CBD is good for aches and pains,” he adds. “CBD oil, to the best of my knowledge, unless it’s contaminated, has no significant adverse events associated with it.”
While there’s essentially been no research on using CBD for migraines in humans, Dr. Silberstein notes that it may benefit patients by regulating pain perception and the transmission of pain sensations, and by fighting inflammation.
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main mind-altering chemical found in marijuana, “goes to the same receptors as the body’s own endocannabinoids,” he says. “But CBD goes to a whole host of different receptors.” (Here’s more on the difference between CBD and THC.)
The endocannabinoid system
Both CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Sometimes known as the “master regulator,” the ECS is made up of cannabinoid-like compounds the body makes (endocannabinoids), receptors on cells throughout the body that interact with these chemical messengers, and enzymes that help produce and break them down. The ECS helps maintain homeostasis, or balance, in multiple body systems, and can modulate mood, appetite, hormonal function, pain perception, immune response, inflammation, and more.
Some scientists believe that certain conditions, like migraine, are related to abnormal ECS function, and that taking CBD regularly can help restore normal ECS function, or “tone.” Lab research in the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests it may prevent the breakdown of anandamide. This key endocannabinoid binds to the same cell receptor targeted by THC.
What is CBD hemp oil?
What should I look for?
If you live in a state where marijuana is legal, you should buy your CBD products from a licensed dispensary, where it will have been inspected for purity and potency, Dr. Silberstein and other experts recommend.
Your next best option is to find a product with third-party testing to confirm how much CBD it contains; whether it contains THC, terpenes, and other phytochemicals, and if so, how much; and ensure that it is free from contamination.
You should also decide which type of CBD product you want:
- Full spectrum, meaning it contains all of the other components of the hemp plant, including small amounts of THC and plant compounds known as terpenes.
- Broad spectrum, which contains all of these components plus CBD but no THC.
- CBD isolates, which contain only CBD.
“The most important thing is safety testing,” says Leigh Vinocur, MD, a board-certified emergency room physician and Society of Cannabis Clinicians member. “Has it been tested for microbial content, heavy metals, (and) pesticide residues?” You should be able to go online and look up batch-specific lab test results on a company’s website to find these answers, Dr. Vinocur and other experts agree.
It’s also important to know how companies make their product. Methods like supercritical carbon dioxide extraction and ethanol extraction with organic sugarcane draw CBD and other components from the hemp plant without toxic solvents behind. Also, look for CBD hemp oil made from plants organically grown in the U.S.
The entourage effect
When you buy CBD hemp oil, you also need to figure out if you want a full-spectrum product that contains other phytochemicals, terpenes, and cannabinoids from the hemp plant—and possibly some THC, but less than the 0.3 percent limit under federal law.
Broad-spectrum products are full-spectrum products that have been processed to remove THC. CBD isolates are further refined, so they contain CBD alone.
Dr. Silberstein says CBD hemp oil that contains THC may be more effective for some patients, thanks to the entourage effect, which describes how various components of Cannabis sativa act synergistically. To take full advantage of these effects, you’ll want to use a full-spectrum product. People concerned about flunking a drug test for marijuana may prefer broad-spectrum products or CBD isolates, which are THC-free. (Here’s more on whether CBD oil can make you flunk a drug test.)
How do I take it?
If you’re taking CBD hemp oil for the first time, experts agree you should start at a low dose and progress slowly. Keep track of your symptoms so you can see whether or not your migraines are improving. “With CBD you probably could start at five,” says Dr. Vinocur. “But I’ve had older people who claim they’re very sensitive to things, so sometimes I’ll start (them) at one or two.”
Be sure to keep your doctor in the loop, she adds. CBD can interact with many different medications, so it’s important to work with your physician to make sure you’re not risking potentially harmful drug interactions.
Dr. Vinocur and other experts say that taking CBD oil or CBD tincture sublingually—holding it under the tongue for as long as two minutes—allows it to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream through the mucous membranes. Consuming CBD oil by swallowing it is much less efficient, and doesn’t work as quickly.
CBD hemp oil products typically list their total CBD content, as well as the content in each “serving”—generally, a full dropper of one milliliter. The dropper may have a marker, so you can use a quarter or half dose.
Much like CBD creams, CBD hemp oils are also often suitable for topical use and can be rubbed into the skin to help with aches and pains.
Best CBD hemp oils for migraines
Here are five of the best CBD hemp oils for migraine that meet our experts’ quality standards. We’ve included full- and broad-spectrum products, as well as one CBD isolate. Each contains 30 “servings” of CBD, unless otherwise noted.
Purekana Natural CBD Oil 300 mg
This full-spectrum CBD hemp oil contains 40 servings per container, with 7.5 mg of CBD in a half-dropper serving, making it a good choice if you’re still figuring out which dose is best for you. It’s also available in mint, vanilla, and citrus flavors. Purekana provides batch-specific lab results on its website.
Nuleaf Naturals Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil 300 mg
Made with organic hemp seed oil and full-spectrum hemp extract, this product contains other cannabinoids. These include cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidivarin (CBDV), and cannabichromene (CBC), according to batch-specific lab results on the Nuleaf site, as well as 0.19 percent THC, below the legal limit of 0.3 percent. Each serving contains 10 mg CBD.
Barlean’s Ideal CBD Hemp Oil Extra Strength 750 mg
This CBD hemp oil contains 25 mg CBD per serving, extracted from U.S.-grown hemp using ethanol made from organic sugarcane. You can look up Certificates of Analysis (CoAs) by batch or lot number, which show that the product includes a tiny amount of THC (0.1 percent) and terpenes including beta myrcene, beta-pinene, and D-limonene.
Cornbread Hemp Whole Flower USDA Organic CBD Oil 750 mg
Made from sun-grown, Kentucky hemp using organic sugarcane ethanol extraction, this full-spectrum product contains THC (0.217 percent, according to the CoA on the company’s website). Cornbread only uses the hemp plant’s flower, which is the richest source for cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals. Each serving contains 50 mg CBD.
Green Roads Broad Spectrum Hemp Oil 750 mg
South Florida-based Green Roads offers its Original Blend in full- or broad-spectrum versions. You can choose from apple kiwi bliss, mint breeze, and original flavors. This CBD hemp oil comes in 10-mg, 25-mg, and 50-mg dose bottles, and batch-specific lab sheets are available.
- Medline Plus, Migraine
- Stephen Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center and a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
- Americans for Safe Access, "Legal Information By State & Federal Law."
- British Journal of Pharmacology: "Molecular targets for cannabidiol and its synthetic analogues: effect on vanilloid VR1 receptors and on the cellular uptake and enzymatic hydrolysis of anandamide."
- Leigh Vinocur, MD, a board-certified emergency room physician based in Maryland
- Frontiers in Pharmacology: "Emerging Role of (Endo)Cannabinoids in Migraine"
- Journal of Young Investigators: "The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator."