6 Best CBD Tinctures for Migraine
Here's what you need to know about CBD tinctures for migraines, along with six products that meet our experts' quality standards.
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What’s a tincture?
If you have migraines, you’ve likely tried all sorts of treatments to get relief. Amid medications and lifestyle changes, perhaps you’ve considered trying CBD tinctures for headache pain.
In the strictest sense of the word, a tincture is an extract of a substance (typically a plant) dissolved in a type of alcohol called ethanol. Tinctures of medicinal herbs—including Cannabis sativa—have been a staple remedy for centuries, maybe even millennia.
What’s a CBD tincture?
This old-timey word for an old-fashioned kind of medicine has evolved to mean, at least in the world of cannabidiol or CBD, any product containing hemp extract that can be taken sublingually, or under the tongue.
Products called tinctures these days may have been extracted from the hemp plant using various methods, such as the high-tech process of supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, or ethanol derived from organic sugar cane. (Here’s what experts want you to know about what hemp is.)
Regardless of how the CBD oil is extracted, CBD tinctures that actually contain alcohol have drawbacks. They can sting the mouth, and some people prefer to avoid alcohol entirely.
Instead, CBD tinctures now available usually contain hemp extract mixed with another type of oil, such as hemp seed oil or coconut oil, called a carrier oil. Medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil) is widely used as a carrier oil in CBD oil products and is made from several different types of oil. (Here’s more on the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil.)
Can CBD tinctures help treat migraines?
There’s still almost no research on using CBD for migraine treatment in humans, as is the case with many other potential medical applications of CBD. “There’s really a paucity of human clinical trials,” says Leigh Vinocur, MD, a board-certified emergency room physician and Society of Cannabis Clinicians member who is currently studying for a Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, the first graduate program in the U.S. focused on medical cannabis.
But a 2020 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in the laboratory and in animals has found evidence for CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects. It suggests CBD oil could ease pain through other mechanisms as well, for example, by affecting pain perception and how pain sensations travel through the body. (Here are the sneaky warning signs of a migraine, and how to stop them.)
“I can’t prove it scientifically, but I can tell you many people have used it” and found benefit, says Stephen Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center and a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
How do I use CBD tincture?
The most efficient way to use CBD tincture is by placing it under your tongue and holding it there for up to two minutes. CBD can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes, so this method acts fast. You can also swallow a CBD tincture or add it to food and drink, but you won’t absorb as much, and it will take longer for you to feel the effects.
CBD tincture comes in small bottles with a dropper, and you can purchase it in different strengths. If you’re trying it for the first time, experts recommend starting with a low dose and increasing slowly, while tracking your migraine symptoms to see if it’s having an effect.
What to look for in CBD tinctures for migraine
Your absolute best bet, experts agree, is to purchase CBD products in a licensed dispensary if you live in a state where marijuana is legal. These products have undergone quality control, including testing for potency and screening for harmful substances such as solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, mold, and more.
If you don’t have access to a licensed dispensary, your next-best option is to track down a product that has been third-party tested and has Certificates of Analysis (CoAs) or other documentation of batch-specific lab test results readily available on its website.
You also want a product from hemp grown in the U.S., using organic methods.
You should also decide which type of CBD product you want. They include:
- Full-spectrum: These products contain all of the other components of the hemp plant, including small amounts of THC and plant compounds known as terpenes.
- Broad-spectrum: These contain all of the components of the hemp plant, plus CBD. But it has been further refined to remove delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
- CBD isolate: It only has CBD.
The amount of THC contained in a full-spectrum product made from hemp—Cannabis sativa plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC by weight—must also fall within this 0.3 percent threshold. While that amount of THC won’t make you high, regular use of a product containing even tiny amounts of THC can put you at risk of flunking a drug test for marijuana. If you’re concerned about getting drug tested, broad-spectrum products and CBD isolates are probably a better choice.
Here are six CBD tinctures that meet our experts’ quality standards.
Six best CBD tinctures for migraine
R+R Medicinals Hemp Extract Tincture 500 mg
Each full dropper of this U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-certified organic, full-spectrum tincture contains 16.67 mg CBD, and it’s available in peppermint or unflavored versions. You can find batch-specific CoAs on the website. R+R’s products are also certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, an industry group that promotes “high standards, best practices, and self-regulation.”
Lazarus Naturals Classic High Potency CBD Tincture 750 mg
This tincture contains 50 mg CBD per 1-milliliter serving, along with cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and small amounts of THC, according to batch-specific lab test results that also list the expiration date for each batch. It’s also terpene-rich, with beta-caryophyllene, alpha-bisabolol, and humulene in the mix.
Joy Organics Organic CBD Broad Spectrum Oil Tincture 450 mg
Each serving contains 15 mg CBD, and this product is THC-free, as confirmed by batch-specific lab results on the website. Joy Organics also offers its broad-spectrum tincture in 900-mg and 1,350-mg potencies and in lime, mint, lemon, and orange flavors.
Upstate Elevator Supply Co. Organic Lemon Hemp Extract 1,500 mg
Upstate Elevator Supply Co’s 2019 and 2020 hemp crops were certified by Vermont Organic Farmers. This tincture made from cold-extracted hemp oil, organic coconut oil, and organic lemon oil, offers a potent CBD content for the price. Each serving contains 50 mg of CBD, other cannabinoids including 0.288 percent THC, and terpenes, as confirmed by the CoA posted on their website.
Uncle Bud’s 1000mg CBD Sublingual Tincture
Each dose of this peppermint-flavored, stevia-sweetened tincture contains 33 mg CBD. Uncle Bud’s recommends using it sublingually or mixing it with food or drink. You can look up batch-specific lab reports here.
CBDFx CBD + CBN Oil Calming Tincture 500 mg
This CBD tincture also contains 150 mg of cannabinol (CBN), and is THC-free, according to recent lab reports available on CBDFx’s website. Each serving contains 17 mg of CBD and 5 mg CBN. It’s made with coconut oil-derived MTC oil and sweetened with stevia.
Next, here’s how one woman used CBD oil to sleep better.
- Headache: "Medicinal Properties of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids in Cannabis, and Benefits in Migraine, Headache, and Pain: An Update on Current Evidence and Cannabis Science."
- Stephen Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center and a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine in Philadelphia
- Leigh Vinocur, MD, board-certified emergency room physician and Society of Cannabis Clinicians member studying for a Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
- International Journal of Molecular Science: "Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action."