5 Best CBD Capsules for Migraine
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Should you try CBD for migraine pain? If you want to consider trying it, here's how to find safe products, plus the CBD capsules that meet our experts' quality standards.
CBD capsules for migraine
One billion people worldwide suffer from migraine, including 39 million men, women, and children in the U.S., according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
Along with throbbing head pain, usually on just one side of the head, migraine symptoms can include hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch, and other sensations.
People may also have nausea and vomiting during a migraine, and about one-quarter have characteristic symptoms before an attack known as migraine with aura. People with migraine typically have one or two headache days a month, but people who have chronic migraine can have 15 or more headache days monthly.
(Learn more about the difference between migraine and headache.)
There’s growing evidence that cannabidiol, or CBD, could help people with certain pain conditions, including migraine, although most research to date comes from studies in lab dishes and animals.
“Some people find it useful, some people don’t find anything at all of value,” says Stephen Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center and a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Nevertheless, Dr. Silberstein says some of his patients find benefit from taking CBD orally and using topical CBD for pain that’s associated with migraines, like muscle aches and stiffness. (Here’s what you need to know about using CBD oil for pain.)
What is CBD?
CBD is one of the two main cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as the marijuana or hemp plant. (They are different varieties of the same plant and contain different compounds.)
The other is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the substance that makes people “high” and that drug tests detect. CBD won’t make you high, but regular use of CBD products containing even small traces of THC can cause a person to fail a urine test for marijuana.
It’s currently legal to produce and sell hemp, which is Cannabis sativa bred to contain less than 0.3 percent THC by weight, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. These new rules on hemp led to an essentially unregulated market of products sold as hemp oil. (This is the difference between CBD oil vs. hemp oil.)
There are several kinds of CBD products:
- Full-spectrum: It contains all of the other components of the hemp plant, including small amounts of THC and plant compounds known as terpenes.
- Broad-spectrum: It contains all of other components of the hemp plant, plus CBD but no THC.
- CBD isolate: This is made from CBD oil that has been refined to remove everything except CBD. If you’re worried about flunking a drug test for marijuana, which actually tests for THC, this is your best option.
While CBD isolate is your safest bet in terms of avoiding THC, many CBD experts say you’ll be missing out on the entourage effect if you use a CBD-only product.
This is the idea that the components of the hemp plant have synergistic benefits. If you don’t see a drug test in your future, you could choose a full-spectrum or a broad-spectrum product. (Here’s the difference between CBD vs. THC.)
Side effects of CBD
The effects of CBD can vary from person to person with potential side effects including changes in appetite, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, fatigue, and sleepiness. Overall, CBD consumption is generally considered safe. However, if you’re currently taking any medications, it’s important to talk to your doctor to see if CBD is right for you.
For example, CBD can interact with the popular blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin). A 2018 case report in Epilepsy & Behavior Case Reports suggests that because CBD and warfarin break down similarly, CBD can raise warfarin levels in the body. If you take a blood thinner, talk with your doctor to weigh the risks of taking CBD.
(Prefer eating CBD? Here’s what to know about CBD edibles.)
When it comes to CBD, it’s buyer beware
“That’s the problem, it’s a little bit of a buyer beware sort of thing,” 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.
If you live in a state where marijuana—Cannabis sativa containing more than 0.3 percent THC—is legal to grow and sell, Dr. Vinocur, Dr. Silberstein, and other experts recommend purchasing CBD products from state-licensed dispensaries.
You can be reasonably confident that these products have been tested for their content of CBD and other cannabinoids and screened for harmful contaminants such as heavy metals, solvents, and mold.
If you don’t have access to state-regulated CBD, your next-best option is to find products online that can confirm that they’ve been thoroughly tested for potency and purity by a third-party lab.
Other things you should look for when purchasing CBD capsules for migraine:
- Made with U.S.-grown, organic hemp
- Batch-specific certificates of analysis (COAs) or other lab-test documentation should be easily accessible on the company’s website
- Free from additives and preservatives
(Here’s a buyer’s guide for the best CBD oil for pain.)
Best CBD capsules for migraine
We’ve saved you some time and tracked down five CBD capsules for migraine that meet our experts’ standards for quality and safety. Here’s what to know about using CBD for migraines, and how to take it.
cbdMD CBD Oil Softgel Capsules
$36, 450 mg CBD/30 capsules
Recent, batch-specific lab test results on cbdMD’s website show that these broad-spectrum capsules contain the terpenes limonene and bisabolol and the minor cannabinoids cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN), along with 15 milligrams of CBD and no detectable THC. Higher-potency capsules, at 33 mg and 50 mg each, are also available in 30- and 60-count bottles.
Cornbread Full Spectrum CBD Capsules
$70, 750 mg CBD/30 capsules
Made with Kentucky-grown hemp, these 25-mg capsules contain a tiny amount of THC—0.076 percent, according to lab test results posted on the site, which also shows they’ve been fully screened for pesticides, heavy metals, microbes, and more. Cornbread suggests taking CBD capsules at the same time every day with a glass of water, and notes that consuming them after a fatty meal can improve absorption.
Lazarus Naturals 50mg CBD Softgels
$50, 2,000 mg CBD/200 softgels
These full-spectrum softgels are made with organic flaxseed oil and organic coconut oil, and contain terpenes and a small amount of THC, along with CBD, CBN, and cannabichromene (CBC), according to lab test results from the company. Lazarus Naturals also sells a bottle containing 10 softgels for $16, a handy size if you’re trying them for the first time.
Cheef Botanicals Vegan CBD Capsules
$24, 300 mg CBD/ 30 capsules
Each capsule of Cheef Botanicals contains 10 mg CBD, and zero THC. Cheef notes that the capsules are made without animal gelatin, so they’re vegan and cruelty-free. Batch-specific lab results can be found on the website, and 750 mg, 1,500 mg, and 3,000 mg bottles are available.
Upstate Elevator Supply Co 30mg Organic Full Spectrum CBD Capsules
$45, 900 mg CBD/30 capsules
Made from hemp plants grown in Vermont using organic, sustainable methods, these capsules also contain organic coconut oil, and are made using vegetarian outer capsules. They contain 0.139 percent THC, CBC, and CBG, along with 30 mg of CBD. Upstate Elevator Supply Co also offers 50 mg and 75 mg full-spectrum capsules, as well as THC-free 30 mg CBD capsules.
- Migraine Research Association: "Migraine Facts"
- Stephen Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center and a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine in Philadelphia
- 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"
- Epilepsy & Behavior Case Reports: "An interaction between warfarin and cannabidiol, a case report"
- Leigh Vinocur, MD, board-certified emergency room physician and Society of Cannabis Clinicians member