An Introduction to the Available Research and Case Studies

In recent years, cannabinoids, more specifically cannabidiol (CBD), have been the talk of town due to their many therapeutic properties. Despite their constrained legal status in most countries, patients of all walks of life have been using cannabinoids to treat a wide range of symptoms. There is vast anecdotal evidence supporting this statement, including the use of CBD to treat mood disorders, asthma, addiction, digestive issues, skin conditions, neurodegenerative conditions, and many more. In this article, we will summarize the available clinical studies and case studies concerning the use of CBD for migraines. For more information on the effects of CBD on other conditions, take a look at this page.

The Big Headache

Headaches, specifically migraines are a major health concern in the U.S. and the world over. This condition is characterized by huge societal and individual costs including reduced quality of life, with an estimated $14.4 billion being spent annually to fight it.

Every year, 47% of the population experience some type of headache, with 10% of these being migraines, 38% due by tension/anxiety related issues, and 3% suffering from daily chronic headaches. Furthermore, a sexual imbalance exists with regards to headache disorders, with women 2-3 times more likely to experience a migraine and 1.25 times more likely to suffer from tension-type headaches.

The Intimate Relationship between Migraines and the Endocannabinoid System

The recently discovered endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been associated with numerous regulatory functions in health as well as disease. This system is composed of endocannabinoids such as cannabidiol, and the proteins necessary to bind and various metabolize them such as anandamide. So far, studies have suggested that the ECS system is involved both directly and indirectly in the processing of pain signals. This findings have been bolstered by the evidence that CBD inhibits the release of neurotransmitters known to be implicated in the transmission and modulation of pain signals.

For instance, a recent study published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal investigated the positive effects of using oral cannabis to control migraines. The study involved 26 subjects who were not responding to common headache medication such as ibuprofen and nabilone. The patients were tested over the course of six months with a different cannabinoid-painkiller combination being adopted every eight weeks. The results showed that a combination of cannabinoids and nabilone worked to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines.

Another study carried out in 2016 found out that of the 48 patients involved, 40 per cent reported an improvement of migraine and headeache symptoms. The same suggestions are echoed in another review that studied the experimental and clinical data that demonstrate a relationship between migraines and the endocannabinoid system. Although they could not establish the exact mechanisms underlying the effects of CBD, the results strongly suggested that activating the ECS could be a novel way of controlling migraines. They added that it is more promising than other contenders in the same field since it reduces both the inflammatory and physiological components of pain that often cause migraines.

What do scientists know about the mechanism of CBD in our bodies?

Scientists do not understand the mechanisms through which CBD manifests its many therapeutic properties. As a result, many studies have been going on in order to establish the facts.

With regards to migraines, one study evaluated a novel concept called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). They hypothesized that CECD could be the possible cause of various conditions such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fybromyaglia and many other functional conditions that seem to respond to cannabidiol.

They found that migraines share an intricate relationship with the ECS, including the interaction of anandamide with 5-HT1A in addition to the inhibition of 5-HT2A receptors. This supports CBD’s efficacy in treating migraines. In conclusion, the researchers noted that the conditions named above portray similar biochemical, clinical and pathophysiological patterns that may be treated suitably using cannabinoids and recommended for more studies.

Another study confirmed the hypothesis that the dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system may lead to the development of migraine attacks. The examiners concluded that a pharmacological modulation of CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors may be useful for the management of migraine pain.

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Using CBD

Generally, the side effects of using CBD for migraines have not been widely investigated. However, according to information from other studies, CBD has a high safety profile, with minimal and mild side effects. This is one of the main reasons why both patients and the scientific community  has become interested in this new drug which could prove useful in treating migraines and other types of headaches. Some of the known side effects of CBD include:

  • Inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased tremor in patients with Parkinson’s at high dosages
  • Decreased appetite
  • Light headedness at high dosages
  • Sleepiness


CBD is a cannabinoid, similar to THC, but without the psychoactive effects normally associated with THC. As the research above suggests, CBD clearly contains a wide range of therapeutic properties, which scientists believe will prove useful once its complete mechanism of action is understood.  More research is definitely required before we can expect a CBD-based conventional medicine for treating migraines to hit the shelves.

Below is a list of all the relevant case studies, reviews, research and anecdotal reports concerning the effects of CBD on migraines. We update the information on this page regularly, so, come back and you will be the first to know in case of any new updates or developments in this field.