CBD for Migraines

New to CBD and suffering from migraines? This guide to CBD will help you understand how CBD can reduce the frequency and severity of your migraine attacks. We also list the Best CBD Oils for Migraine Sufferers at the end of this article.

CBD for Migraines – The Ultimate Guide

According to The Migraine Trust, migraine is the third most common disease in the world with 15% of the global population suffering from this type of headache disorder. That’s 1.2 billion people on the planet suffering from migraines at some point in their life.

Whilst most of us will experience mild or severe headaches, on an occasional basis, chronic migraines, which tend to be recurring throughout the year, can last several hours or days and may not only be painful but also quite debilitating.

Choosing CBD, a popular product made from hemp extract (cannabis plant), is a natural way to manage the frequency and intensity of your migraines, without any of the major side effects of traditional migraine medication.

In this article we discuss the benefits of CBD oil for migraine sufferers based on research papers and peer-reviewed studies. We explain how CBD oil can help with migraine attacks and provide links to purchase high quality CBD oils we’ve tried and tested.

Take our CBD Quiz

If after reading this guide you are still unsure about what products to choose to help with your migraine attacks, simply take our CBD Quiz which has been designed specifically to identify the product and strength that is best suited to your personal needs.

CBD has been proven to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks as well as reduce stress and improve sleep, two major migraine triggers. But CBD also has strong analgesic (pain relief) and antiemetic (prevent vomiting) properties which can help migraine sufferers during an attack.

What is CBD?

Cannabis (or Marijuana) and hemp are the same plant and come from the Cannabaceae family. Both plants are filled with organic compounds known as “cannabinoids”. Hemp has over 112 different cannabinoids, all of which have their own health benefits.

The main two cannabinoids or compounds of the hemp plant are THC (also known as “Tetrahydrocannabinol”) and CBD (also known as “Cannabidiol”).

THC is the compound known to give cannabis smokers this feeling of “high” and is currently illegal in the UK.

CBD on the other hand, contains none of the psychoactive properties associated with THC (meaning it won’t get you “high”) and is completely legal in the UK. It is also non-addictive and has been suggested to have several medical benefits. Some of these benefits include reducing anxiety and depression, improving sleep and insomnia, reducing pain and inflammation, as well as helping with stress or neurological disorders.

These benefits are possible because CBD interacts with your “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS), which essentially monitors and regulate key functions of your body such as your heat level, your food intake, your hormone levels and so on. When your ECS detects that something is operating outside of what it considers to be its “normal range”, it activates to bring things back to its baseline. If you are exercising and become too hot, your ECS activates and makes you sweat to bring your temperature down. If you need more calories for your body to keep performing (for example running) but you aren’t feeding it, your ECS may start redirecting the energy available towards vital organs such as the heart and brain, leading to a drop in physical performance.

The term Endocannabinoid can be broken down into two parts:

  • Cannabinoid: which comes from Cannabis
  • Endo: which is short for “Endogenous” and means that it is naturally produced by your body.

So endocannabinoid simply means that your body naturally produces cannabinoids, and does so thanks to cannabinoid receptors present in the body, which fall under two categories:

CB1 Receptors

CB1 receptors, which are located in various regions of the body, with a large concentration in the brain and the nerves of the spinal cord, co-ordinate mood, emotion, appetite, and other functions.

CB2 Receptors

CB2 receptors are more commonly found in the immune system and are responsible for controlling inflammation and pain. CBD stimulates these receptors and induces the body to release serotonin.

Serotonin, or 5-HT, is a neurotransmitter that carries signals from one neuron to the other. CBD increases the level of serotonin, which, in return, helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation in the body and possibly reduces the cramping experienced during period pain.

Whilst there are very few differences between “Marijuana” and “Hemp”, the main difference is simply legal and linked to the level of THC that is present in the plant. So different parts of the cannabis plant are either defined as hemp or as cannabis / marijuana.

  • Hemp: hemp is the stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa (“Cannabis Sativa” is the scientific Latin term that defines hemp, cannabis or marijuana plant species)
  • Cannabis and Marijuana: the leaves, flowers and viable seeds of cannabis sativa

The varieties of cannabis that are regulated, legal and available in the UK are those that produce less than 0.2 percent THC. And given the fact that most THC is in the flowers, CBD products are primarily made from hemp (stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa) which contain very little THC and are safe to consume.

There has been a lot of interest in CBD from both the research and medical community over the last few years, due to its range of health applications – including but not limited to pain relief, fighting the side effects of cancer medications, alleviating insomnia, lowering stress levels, improving acne outbreaks, counteracting heat disease, or reducing seizures in patients with epilepsy

For all these reasons, CBD products are legal in the UK if they contain less than 0.2% THC and as long as they are advertised as a health supplement and not a medication.

Products containing CBD come in many different forms, with the most common including CBD oils, CBD gummies, CBD capsules, CBD vapes and CBD edibles. Some forms are more fast-acting than others, some have different flavours, some contain differing proportions of CBD extract, and so on, so the type you choose depends entirely upon your personal preferences and the condition you wish to treat.

Here’s what you need to know about using CBD for migraines.

Migraines: What You Need to Know

Whilst some of us may use the word ‘migraine’ when we have a simple headache, the term migraine defines a type of headache disorder manifesting as recurring attacks which can last from a few hours to three days.

Migraines should not be confused with other headache disorders such as tension-type headaches (TTH), cluster headaches (CH) or medication-overuse headaches (MOH).

The main symptoms of migraines include throbbing head pain which can be mild or incredibly intense, depending on the severity of the attack.

But throbbing head pain isn’t the only symptom and migraine attacks are often accompanied with a range of other symptoms including sensitivity to light, sensitivity to other stimuli – for example noise or smell, nausea and vomiting.

Catching a migraine early is often very important as the earlier you treat the symptoms of your migraine, the lower the intensity and the duration of your attack. Whilst a large portion of migraine sufferers will get no warning signs prior to an attack, some people experienced ‘an aura’ before each attack, which can be characterized as sensory disturbances which can include flashes of light, blind spots and other vision changes or tingling in your hand or face.

Severe migraine attacks are so debilitating that they have been classified among the most disabling illnesses by the World Health Organization due to its impact globally:

  • Around 10 million people aged 15-69 in the UK suffer from migraines
  • Chronic migraine affects approximately 2% of the world population with 75% of those reporting at least one attack each month
  • Migraine are more prevalent in women with three-times as many women as men suffering from migraine attacks. This is likely linked to hormonal changes.
  • 190,000 people suffer from migraine attacks every day in the UK

So, what causes migraine attacks and what are the different types of migraines?

What Causes Migraines?

In the early days, it was believed that migraines were linked to a disease of the blood vessels whereby vasoconstriction (the constriction of blood vessels, which increases blood pressure) and vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels) where the root cause of migraines.

However, it would appear as though this type of headache disorder is linked to your genes and not vascular pathologies.

The term ‘migraine’ is characterized by throbbing head pain often accompanied with other symptoms, which in the most severe cases can be quite debilitating due to the pain and the sensitivity to external stimuli such as light, noise or smells.

The pain – which can be defined as an uncomfortable sensation that usually signals an injury or illness – is usually the body’s way of telling you that something is not right and that you should do something about it so the feeling of pain can go away.

When your body experiences a pain stimulus, such as a cut, a burn, a headache or a migraine, the nerves in your body register the stimulus and the nerve fibres in your body send pain signals to your nervous system which carries this signal to your brain.

Migraine often starts at puberty and most affects those aged between 35 and 45 years, but it can trouble much younger people including children and teenager, with approximately 4% of boys and girls in pre-pubertal age suffering from migraine attacks.

What are Migraine Triggers?

What are the factors that can trigger attacks in people susceptible to migraines?

Whilst migraines have been studied for a long time, the actual triggers remain unknown, but it is believed that the below factors could play a part in triggering migraine attacks:

  • Increased stress
  • Lack of sleep, tiredness or a change in sleep pattern
  • Over-consumption of alcohol or caffeine
  • Climatic conditions such as extremely hot or cold weather
  • Time spent in front of screens (TV or computer)

In children and teenagers, screen time and diet could also play an important part in migraine attacks.

7 Types of Migraines

Whilst the term migraine is used to describe the general condition, there are several types of migraines which vary in frequency, intensity and symptoms. These include:

Migraine without Aura – By far the most common type of migraine, migraine attacks without an aura affect between 70 and 90% of people who suffer from migraines. This type of headache disorder usually affects one side of the head with a throbbing or pulsating pain, and is often accompanied by additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea as well as sensitivity to light (known as photophobia) and noises (known as phonophobia).

Migraine with Aura – It is believed that between 10% and 25% of the UK population suffering from migraine attacks experience an aura. The term aura is used to described neurological symptoms experienced by the patient during a migraine attack, often in the form of visual disturbances. Most of the symptoms will be similar to people suffering from migraines without aura, however, they will usually have additional neurological symptoms characterized as visual disturbances lasting less than an hour as a precursor to an attack. These visual disturbances include:

  • Blind spots in the field of vision
  • Coloured spots
  • Sparkles, stars or flashing lights before the eyes
  • Tunnel vision
  • Zig-zag lines
  • Temporary blindness
  • Other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pins and needles, dizziness and vertigo

Chronic Migraine – Whilst migraines with and without an aura may happen multiple times a month, people suffering from chronic migraine will experience attacks on more than 15 days per month, over a 3+ month period without these being linked to medication over use (causing Medication Overuse Headaches). Whilst chronic migraines affects less than 1% of the UK population, over 600,000 people in the UK will have over 15 headache days each month.

Chronic migraines are incredibly debilitating as sufferers will often have to be absent from work or school and may not be able to partake in social or leisure activities. Just like episodic migraines, there does not seem to be a single root-cause for chronic migraine but triggers such as lack fo sleep, caffeine, bright or flashing lights, hormone or diet have been identified in most cases.

Menstrual Migraine – As the name indicates, menstrual migraines are linked to the menstrual cycles of women. It is believed that migraine are more prevalent in women with three-times as many women as men suffering from migraine attacks, with hormonal changes being a clear factor. But how does the menstrual cycle cause migraine attacks?

During their menstrual cycle, women will experience falling levels of oestrogen which could be the trigger for a menstrual migraine attack. These tend to occur two days prior to a period starting and in the first three days of a period, where the level of oestrogen is low. It is believed that approximately 10% of women suffer from this type of headache disorder.

Medication such as mefenamic acid, an anti-inflammatory painkiller or Naproxen, can be effective in preventing this type of migraine. In some cases, speaking to your GP about the possibility of using oestrogen supplements to boost your oestrogen levels can be an option.

Hemiplegic Migraine – Whilst incredibly rare, hemiplegic (hemi = half; plegia = paralysis) migraines are characterized by temporary weakness of one side of the body and are usually only experienced by adults. The weakness or paralysis experienced by this type of migraine sufferer may involve the face, the arm or the leg and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness, pins and needles, vision problems as well as difficulties speaking or understanding people.

The weakness will usually last between an hour and a day, but can in some very rare cases last several days. Hemiplegic migraines are caused by a compromised or malfunctioning nervous system. When an electrical nerve impulse passes from one nerve cell towards another, it opens a ‘channel’ between the two nerve cells which results in the release of chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters (e.g serotonin). When a channel in the brain does not work properly due to a compromised or malfunctioning nervous system, neurotransmitters may be released in an abnormal way, resulting in hemiplegic migraines and weakness or paralysis of one side of the body.

Vestibular Migraine – Whilst migraines are usually associated with throbbing head pain which can be accompanied with other symptoms such as light or sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting, people suffering from vestibular migraines will primarily experience vertigo, dizziness or balance problems along with traditional migraine symptoms. This is not to be confused with Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to dizzy spells (vertigo) and hearing loss.

Abdominal Migraine – Whilst only 4% of boys and girls in pre-pubertal age suffering from migraine attacks, abdominal migraines are most often seen in children. As the name suggests, abdominal migraines are not linked to throbbing head pain, but belly or abdominal pain instead, though these happen as a reaction to the same triggers as traditional migraine attacks. Abdominal migraines can be very painful for children and may involve abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting.

The triggers for abdominal migraines are still debated but it is believed that the level of serotonin and histamine in the body could be responsible, as well as worry / stress and specific foods such as chocolate, meats (which contain nitrites) and those containing MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) .

Side Effects of Migraine Medication

In total, it is estimated that the NHS spends around £150 million each year to treat migraine patients and £250 million on care for all headache disorders (which includes migraines and any other type of headache).

However, the cost to the wider economy is estimated to be around £4.4 billion each year, as migraines can be incredibly debilitating, resulting in sufferers being unable to go to work and forced to take sick days. This number rises to £6-7 billion annually when looking at all headache related disorders and taking into account the costs of healthcare, lost productivity due to absenteeism and disability.

Whilst treating the root cause of pain is usually the best approach, there’s currently no cure for migraine, so addressing the symptoms is the only option available to migraine sufferers.

It is usually recommend to keep a journal to track each migraine attack in order to try and identify the main triggers – be it a lack of sleep, specific foods or external triggers such as screens.

Many of the medications recommended for chronic migraine are the same as those prescribed for episodic migraine and include both over-the counter painkillers and migraine specific drugs such as triptans.

In some instances, your GP may recommend preventive medications if you suffer from for chronic migraines, but these are often associated with side effects and cannot be taken for long periods of time.

Some of these include:

  • Children under 16 should not take aspirin (unless prescribed by a GP)
  • Aspirin and ibuprofen are not recommended for people who have stomach ulcers, liver or kidney problems.
  • Medication can cause drowsiness, unbalanced gut micro-biome, gastrointestinal problems such as bleeding, ulceration and perforation
  • Taking any form of painkiller frequently can make headaches worse. It has been reported that almost 75% of chronic migraine sufferers over use headache medications. This is known as painkiller headache or medication overuse headache (MOH).

On the other hand, physical and alternatives therapies such as acupuncture, massages or ice packs may only offer minimal relief and are not suitable for all types of migraines.

CBD Can Help Migraine Sufferers

Although people have been using herbal remedies for sleep, anxiety, or pain for centuries, it wasn’t until the last few years that hemp’s legal status changed, allowing more people to benefit from its many health related benefits.

Cannabidiol, the scientific name for CBD, is a naturally occurring compound coming from the hemp plant. CBD has broad therapeutic properties, from pain relief and anti-inflammatory, to neuropathic (protect nerve fibres) and antiemetic (prevent vomiting).

Since no cure has yet to be found to treat migraines, it is important to not only manage the pain experience during a migraine attack and its associated symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, but more importantly to focus on the factors that may influence attacks. These include lack of sleep and increased stress.

When it comes to migraines, the main properties of CBD include:

  • Prevention: CBD can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks
  • Analgesic & anti-inflammatory: CBD relieves pain during and after a migraine attack
  • Migraine triggers: CBD can helps with day-to-day events – such as stress and poor sleep – which may trigger migraines
  • Antiemetic: CBD may prevent vomiting during a migraine attack

CBD Can Reduce the Frequency of Migraines

The results of a 2016 study indicate that medical cannabis may reduce the frequency of migraines. The study found that the frequency of headaches decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month with the use of medical cannabis (of which CBD is a component). These positive effects were reported by 40% of patients with the most common effects reported being the prevention of headaches and the decreased frequency of headaches.

CBD Relieves Pain During a Migraine Attack

CBD has proven analgesic properties, meaning that it helps relieve pain during a migraine attack. But how?

The human body contains a specialized system called the ECS (the endocannabinoid system), which aim is to regulate a variety of functions such as sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. The body also produces endocannabinoids, which are simply neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system.

CBD is believed to interact with specific receptors, specifically the CB1R and CB2R.

  • CB1 receptors, which are located in various regions of the body, with a large concentration in the central nervous system and brain, co-ordinate mood, emotion, appetite, and other functions.
  • CB2 receptors are more commonly found in the immune system and are responsible for controlling inflammation and pain. CBD stimulates these receptors and induces the body to release serotonin.

Serotonin, or 5-HT, is a neurotransmitter that carries signals from one neuron to the other. CBD increases the level of serotonin, which, in return, helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation in the body and possibly reduces the cramping experienced during period pain.

According to Researchgate, a study published in November 2019 shows improvement of physical discomforts such as headaches and various signs of physical pain. According to Teitelbaum J, there have been multiple studies showing patients found relief of menstrual pain, back pain, spinal pain, joint pain (e.g. arthritis) or fibromyalgia pain.

Furthermore, a 2018 review of the relevant research also reports that cannabis seems promising as a method of relieving pain, including pain from headaches and migraines.

CBD & Migraine Triggers: Stress + Sleep

When it comes to migraines, some patients have ‘triggers’, which are things or events that make migraine attacks more likely. Not all people with migraines have triggers, and triggers may affect some patients but not others. Two of the most common triggers are stress and not sleeping well.

The good news is that CBD can also help with these triggers.

CBD Can Reduces Stress

If your migraines are triggered by stress, we may have some good news for you. Whilst more research needs to be carried out to determine the impact of CBD on stress and anxiety disorders, a number of studies have already been carried out.

According to a double-bind 2010 study, subjects were either given 400mg of CBD or a placebo.

The results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD (social anxiety disorder) and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas. Similar results were observed in another study conducted almost a year later.

A 2014 study shows that CBD acts similarly to ant-depressants and helps relieve stress in general.

Another study in 2018 saw CBD help with pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. According to the same study, the researchers claim to have just scratched the surface. The true potential of CBD oil is still unknown.

CBD Can Improve Sleep

Most people suffering from headache disorders may find that a lack of sleep or not being able to get restorative sleep are migraine triggers. So how can CBD help?

There is extensive research on the effectiveness of CBD oil when used to treat insomnia and improve sleep.

CBD works with the human body to increase calm, decrease stress, and lower anxiety levels. These responses indirectly improve your sleep. In the 1990s, researchers confirmed the body has an endocannabinoid system or ECS. Researchers have only found a link between the cannabinoids found in hemp with the ECS, making it an unusual reaction.

The ECS is a complex cell-signalling system consisting of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. Scientists believe it plays many roles, including maintaining balance in the body. When it comes to sleep, the ECS helps regulate sleep and sleep cycles. Also, relating to sleep, a potential function is boosting anandamide to reduce depression and anxiety.

The cannabinoid receptors interact with endocannabinoids and cannabinoids. The CB1 is located in the nervous system and brain. Additionally, the CB2 is found mostly in the immune system and most organs.

A recent surge in scientific publications has found preclinical and clinical evidence documenting value for CBD in some neuropsychiatric disorders, including epilepsy, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Evidence points toward a calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system.

In 2019, a large case series was published in the Permanente Journal about CBD’s calming effects on the central nervous system. The studies showed patients taking CBD saw lower anxiety levels, experienced less stress, and slept better at night. Additionally, most participants experienced no or few side effects.

So through its calming effect, CBD may help people with headache disorders get a better night’s sleep.

CBD Prevents Nausea & Vomiting

If your headaches make you feel nauseous or if you often end up vomiting during a migraine attack, CBD may be able to help as it has been proven to have antiemetic properties, meaning it helps prevent vomiting.

This discovery has been particularly useful for cancer patients for whom CBD has been proven to not only help them reduce the symptoms and side effects of cancer medication and treatments, such as pain, nausea and vomiting.

In one study focusing on CBD extract and THC extract given to patients with intractable cancer-related pain, it was found that of the 177 people with cancer-related pain who did not experience the adequate relief from traditional pain medication, those treated with an extract containing both the CBD and THC compounds experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those who received only THC extract. This would therefore suggest that CBD had a net positive effect when it comes to reducing pain in cancer patients.

A separate study also showed that cancer patients who suffered from the various side effects of chemotherapy – including nausea and vomiting – experienced little relief from traditional anti-emetic treatments. Patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) were administered a one-to-one combination of CBD and THC via mouth spray. The results showed that chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting symptoms were reduced in comparison to standard treatment alone.

Both of these studies would support the fact that CBD has antiemetic properties which could apply to migraine sufferers.

CBD: The ‘Entourage Effect’

Now that you know that CBD can help you manage your migraines, it is important to understand the concept of ‘entourage effect’.

The entourage effect is the theory that while each botanical compound has a unique role or benefit, its behaviour may change when the presence of another compound is present.

For example, it would be more effective and quicker to produce a play with a team of actors rather than one actor playing all the parts. When each actor has a specific role to focus on, they can learn their lines and direction and support their fellow actors. But one actor alone will take a lot longer to learn all the lines for the various parts they have to play.

This is similar to the entourage effect. Essentially, everyone knows their role, but their performance can be enhanced by comradery.

But how is this applied to CBD?

CBD Entourage

We know that CBD products stimulate the endocannabinoid system and make it work more efficiently. But different CBD products affect the ECS differently, depending on their formulation. As previously, discussed there are 3 types of CBD formulation:

  • Full-spectrum: No additional extraction, contains all the natural ingredients of the hemp plant, including CBD, THC, terpenes and flavonoids.
  • Broad-spectrum: All traces of THC are removed from the oil. Every other ingredient remains.
  • CBD Isolate: The oil only contains CBD, everything else is removed.

One of the above formulations has been proven to give better results in reducing pain, inflammation and many other symptoms. Which one of these formulations do you think stimulates the ECS best?

Would it be the most natural substance (full-spectrum), the one with any psychoactive ingredients (broad-spectrum) or the purest form of CBD (isolate)?

According to the entourage effect, it is the full-spectrum CBD because it keeps all the natural components of the hemp plant, which include:

Cannabinoids and Terpenes

The theory of the entourage effect was first introduced by Dr Ethan B. Russo. He thinks that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC work with terpenes (aromatic component) to produce a “synergy.”

In his study “Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects” (2010) Dr Ethan B Russo suggests:

  • The terpene pinene, which gives the scent of pine, may help counteract compromised memory caused by THC.
  • CBD and terpene limonene, which gives a citrus scent, might work together to alleviate anxiety.
  • A combination of CBD and terpene caryophyllene, offering a pepper smell, may be beneficial in the treatment of addiction.

The possibility of “synergy” of endless but have not yet been categorically proven. For more information read his other study “The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain, No Gain” published in 2019.

Omega-3, Antioxidants and Nutrients

In addition to CBD, THC and terpenes, full-spectrum CBD oil also contains Omega-3, which is vital to the ECS. Omega-3 is used to maintain the receptor CB1, which regulate pain and memory.

It also aids the absorption of external cannabinoids, as well as making endocannabinoids internally.

Other nutrients and antioxidants have also been discovered in full-spectrum CBD oil, for example, Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound that can prevent cataract formation, postpone the appearance of wrinkles and grey hair, boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.

As you can see CBD oil when first extracted from the hemp plant has a huge list of ingredients. All of them seem to play a part in helping our bodies. We may not know exactly what they all do. But as time passes and research continues, we can learn more.

Is CBD Legal in the UK?

CBD oil, like any other natural remedy, has been used throughout the ages for its medicinal properties. It was evidenced to have been used in ancient societies with the first recorded case in 2727 B.C in China. It was used to treat anything from poor memory and malaria to gout. It has since been used throughout the world to treat various ailments from anxiety to insomnia and menstrual pains.

Throughout the 1940s, there was extensive research into isolating the CBD compound from the other 100+ compounds found within the marijuana plant, due to its lack of psychoactive effects.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the US legally recognised the medicinal worth of CBD oil, and it was decriminalised in Oregon. There was a large emphasis on the clear distinction between the CBD compound and the THC compound within the marijuana plant.

The UK followed suit in 2016, making it legal to buy CBD oil to help treat a multitude of health issues, including but not limited to:

  • Depression and anxiety disorders (PTSD, OCD, panic disorder or substance/addiction disorders)
  • Chronic pain and inflammation
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart issues
  • Helps to reduce blood pressure and oxidative stress
  • Diabetes
  • Fight bacteria
  • Insomnia and sleep related issues
  • Helps with symptoms of schizophrenia,
  • Skin conditions (psoriasis/eczema)
  • Alzheimer’s disease

In a study conducted by the Centre for Medical Cannabis, their results showed that one in six adults in the UK had tried CBD oil, proving that it is one of the fastest-growing, contemporary, well-being products on the market.

Figures also show that the rates of people using CBD oil were higher amongst the under 55 age range. Also, figures were higher amongst females, with 62% of them using CBD to treat anxiety related issues.

How to Take CBD for Migraines?

There are a few ways to take CBD to reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines. Choosing a method is often a personal preference. The most common are tinctures, gummies, capsules, vapes and topicals.

CBD Tinctures

CBD oil is the most common way of getting your daily dose of CBD to help you reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraine attacks.

However, whilst this is the most popular way to consume CBD, CBD oil often has a more earthy, nutty, woody or grass-like taste which is down to the fact the product is natural, safe, and non-toxic.

You can use CBD oil in different manners.

You can either place a few drops under the tongue and hold it there for 30 to 60 seconds. This way of consuming CBD – called sub-lingual. This is one of the best ways to get it absorbed into the bloodstream as this method allows CBD to completely bypass the digestive system and liver metabolism, so the compounds can avoid being broken down by enzymes and reach the bloodstream more quickly. This offers the quickest relief with an onset of 20 minutes or less.

For those who feel the earthy or grassy taste of CBD is too strong, another option is to mix it with a food or a drink to mask the taste. However, be aware that when you digest CBD, it will not provide immediate relief and you may need to wait 30 to 60 minutes for it to start working.

CBD Capsules

If the earthy and grassy taste of CBD oil or its sharp and bitter aftertaste is not for you, you may want to choose CBD capsules to experience all the benefits of CBD without any of the nasty taste or additives that gummies may contain (such as sugar).

CBD capsules are filled with a precise dose of CBD (usually between 10mg and 50mg of CBD per capsule). You can take one or two capsules, once or twice daily with a full glass of water. The CBD usually comes from full-spectrum (<0.01% THC) ground hemp and is rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. However, seeing as CBD capsules go through the digestive system, they take about an hour or so to work.

Choosing capsules is a great way to get your CBD intake and it’s incredibly travel friendly, the ideal solution for those who are always on the go.

CBD Gummies

For consumers who aren’t comfortable using the sublingual drops or those who struggle to swallow capsules, the CBD-infused chewy candies are a yummy way to consume the hemp extract.

Using CBD gummies is also an easy and accurate way of measuring that you are getting the right amount of CBD as each gummy will provide you with an exact dose of CBD (from 10mg to 50mg).

Unlike CBD oil which acts within 20-30 minutes as it gets absorbed into the blood stream, the onset for CBD gummies is about an hour as edibles need to go through the digestive system.

Finally, remember that gummies tend to contain additional ingredients – including sugar and additives. So whilst gummies are a convenient way to get your daily intake of CBD to treat your pain, eating 3-5 gummies each day could have a negative impact on your overall sugar intake! This isn’t always ideal and for that reason, we would always recommend going for CBD oil or CBD capsules whenever possible.

CBD Vapes

Whilst the team at CBD Unboxed isn’t pro-smoking or pro-vaping, using a vape and inhaling CBD is a great way to get your daily dose of CBD as the heating process occurring whilst smoking increases absorption.

How? By smoking CBD, the active compounds quickly enter the bloodstream via the lungs where they are transported throughout the body. Compared to oral intake such as gummies and capsules, vaping avoids the liver breaking down many of CBD’s beneficial compounds which reduces its potency.

Also, unlike edibles which often contain additional ingredients and additives, the only two ingredients present in CBD vapes and vape juices tend to be cannabinoids and terpenes, natural substances commonly found in herbs, fruits, flowers and plants.

Whilst this seems a great way to get your daily CBD intake, we cannot comment on its use or efficacy as we have not tried vaping products.

CBD Creams & Balms

Another great way to use CBD to reduce the intensity of a migraine attack is by using topical CBD in the form of creams, balms or salves.

Hemp extract creams are applied directly to the relevant area, be it the temples, the forehead or the back of the head and neck. These applications are often combined with other ingredients that help reduce pain, such as turmeric, ginger, and capsaicin.

As CBD creams are for topical use, it can take a while to penetrate and may not provide fast-acting relief. For that reason, it is usually best to combine a topical with a fast acting product such as a CBD oil which will get to work in less than 30 minutes.

For the Ultimate Relief: Mix & Match

An excellent option is to combine the methods. Your CBD tincture, when taken under the tongue, can take up to 30 minutes to fully work. To ease discomfort while waiting, many consumers may use a CBD vape pen which may act faster.

The same advice works for other methods. Your topical CBD cream will take at least 30 minutes to provide relief, and gummies and capsules go through the digestion process and have an average onset time of 30 to 90 minutes. By using multiple methods, you may be able to reduce discomfort and pain during a migraine attack.

How Much CBD Should You Consume?

CBD doesn’t have one-size-fits-all dosing and calculating a proper dosage of CBD can be tough as our bodies react to it differently.

CBD Dosage Table

We would first recommend using the above CBD dosage table to determine how much CBD you should consume on a daily basis.

The four major factors affecting your CBD dosage are:

  • Your weight
  • The condition being treated (i.e. depression, chronic pain etc)
  • The severity of your condition
  • The concentration of CBD oil

Most brands recommend customers start with the lowest dose and increase until they find the right serving size that fits their needs. The most common starting amount is between 10mg and 25mg. For anxiety and depression, the dose can vary from 20mg to 50mg or more.

As a rule of thumb, a person weighting between 10.5 and 17 stones (approximately 150 and 240 lbs) may need between 20mg and 40mg of CBD per day depending on the severity of their symptoms.

When using CBD for the first time, we would always recommend starting with one or two drops of the 3% or 6% CBD oil placed under the tongue (sublingual) and holding it there for at least 30 seconds so it can absorb into the bloodstream.

Taking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to see how your body reacts to it is also recommended. If you are not seeing any major benefits with a single drop, increase your intake by a single drop every 2 or 3 days until finding the right balance to treat your personal symptoms.

Finally, as CBD remains a novel food, it is worth noting that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that healthy adults do not take more than 70mg a day, unless advised by a medical professional.

How Many CBD Oil Drops?

Whilst it may be confusing at the beginning, it’s incredibly simple to work out how many drops of CBD oil you need to take depending on your daily requirements and the strength of the product you bought.

Most bottles of CBD oil contain 10ml of product and come in strengths ranging from 300mg to 2,400mg – also known as 3% and 24% CBD oils. This simply means that in a 1ml drop of the 300mg bottle, you will have 30mg of CBD, whilst the same 1ml of the 2,400mg bottle will give you 8 times that amount for a total of 240mg of CBD.

So assuming you need to hit 25mg of CBD per day with, you will need:

CBD / Bottle* CBD / Drop # Drops
500mg 1.25mg 20 drops
1000mg 2.5mg 10 drops
1800mg 4.5mg 5.5 drops
2400mg 6.0mg 4 drops

*Based on 10ml bottles

Assuming you are using the 500mg CBD oil for a daily dose of 25mg, you will need to take approximately 20 drops per day (25mg divided by 1.25mg per drop). You could break this down throughout the day by taking:

  • 8 drops first thing in the morning on an empty stomach
  • 6 drops early afternoon
  • 6 drops at night before going to bed

If however you bought the 2400mg CBD oil for a daily dose of 25mg, you would only need to take 4 drops per day (25mg divided by 6mg per drop), which you could also spread across the day – 2 in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

As with everything, start with a small amount of CBD oil daily to make sure there’s no reaction, then increase slowly by a drop every 1-2 days until finding the right balance.

What to Expect when Taking CBD?

First-time users may experience relief immediately, as CBD is brand new to your ECS. However, this does depend on the ailment you are trying to improve. For example, one dose of CBD could relieve pain, reduce anxiety and reduce nausea but it wouldn’t stop seizures, cure your depression or diabetes.

If it took you a long time to get the symptom then the same will be said for reducing, preventing or eliminating it.

Immediate Relief (After 24 hours a noticeable difference is seen):

Pain, Inflammation, Migraines, Nausea, Anxiety, Arthritis, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, Stress, Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Rheumatism and Motion Sickness.

Short Term Relief (Noticeable between 2-14 days):

Acne, Inflammation, ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Arthritis, Epilepsy, Depression, Stress, Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Rheumatism, Endocrine Disorders, Obesity, OCD, Spinal Cord Injury and Rheumatism.

Long Term Relief (Noticeable between 2+ weeks):

ALS, Addiction, Alzheimer’s Disease, Asthma, Atherosclerosis, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Depression, Diabetes, Endocrine Disorders, Fatty Liver Disease, Fibromyalgia, Heart Disease, Huntington´s Disease, Kidney Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Mood Disorders, Neurodegeneration, Obesity, Parkinson´s Disease, Prion Disease, Schizophrenia and Traumatic Brain Injury.

As you can see from the table above, symptoms which occur quickly can be improved in the same short time frame. Progressive illnesses and their more severe side effects require longer exposure to CBD before a real difference can be seen.

This is just a general guide, and it’s important to note that every single person will react differently to CBD as no one person has the same biology and lifestyle.

What are the Side Effects of CBD?

Most people do not experience any side effects when taking CBD as this is a natural product. However, as with everything, some people may experience mild side effects from the hemp extract, including:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness

The best way to decrease adverse reactions is to simply lower your daily intake of CBD, or if taking CBD oil under the tongue, to mix it with your food and drink to mask the taste and reduce potential side effects as the CBD will be processed by the digestive system – which means slower absorption. But be aware that one of the downsides of mixing it with your food is a decreased bioavailability, so CBD may not work as well for you.

How To Choose Quality CBD?

As with anything you ingest, the source and quality of your CBD products are important. We would always recommend looking at five main aspects before choosing your CBD product.

CBD Oil from Organic Hemp

Hemp can be grown in just the same way as any other plant – mass-produced and using pesticides and GMOs for the greatest profit, or grown organically with care and attention to provide a fantastic end product.

The best CBD is produced from organic hemp that has benefited from plenty of rain during the growing process. While hemp can physically be grown in many countries, it grows best when the temperature is in the low twenties Celsius. Therefore, the location of the hemp farm is important to ensure the optimum environmental factors are accommodated.

And seeing as cannabis plants can be stressed out by the weather, resulting in a higher THC content (above 0.2%), it’s important to ensure that your CBD oil comes from organic hemp which has been grown in the right part of the world.

Less Than 0.2% THC

Cannabis flowers and extracts usually contain two cannabinoids known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Yet the exact percentage of each can vary greatly, depending on the plant variety and the growing technique used.

THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high sensation, while CBD has been associated with health benefits.

The EU common agricultural policy states that cannabis plant can be grown for industrial uses, provided their THC content does not exceed 0.2 %. That’s in the plant, not in the CBD product you buy.

So when buying CBD oil from a shop or online retailer, be sure to check that their products contain less than 0.2% THC.

Clean Extraction Method

Once the hemp is grown and harvested, the CBD needs to be extracted from the plant. There are several methods for doing this, including the use of carbon dioxide (CO2). This produces the cleanest and purest CBD extract but can be expensive to do as the machinery required is not cheap.

Alternative methods include using solvents such as ethanol or plant oils (eg olive oil) to extract the CBD.

This can lead to less-pure CBD extract, as small amounts of solvent or oil can remain, although most companies using this type of extraction method will usually test their CBD extracts to ensure they are solvent free and safe to consume.

Tested by Independent Labs

Another thing we would recommend checking is whether or not your CBD oil has contaminants. That’s because cannabis plants readily absorb heavy metals, pesticides, and other potentially harmful chemicals that may be in the soil or water.

To ensure your CBD oil is free of those harmful chemicals, it should be tested frequently while the hemp is growing, and finished products should also be tested, using validated methods.

The extract should be tested and certified by a third-party laboratory to confirm the quality of the CBD. Organic CBD should be GMO-free, pesticide-free, and as pure as possible. In the UK and EU, CBD must register THC content of 0.2% or lower.

Most reputable companies selling CBD oil in the UK publish their lab results on their website. Below are a few examples of companies that play the transparency card with their customer and share their lab results for each batch of CBD they produce:

Strength to Match your Needs

Finally, the CBD level within any product should be of a suitable strength to match your needs. Every person is different and their body will respond in a slightly different way, so the level may partially be down to personal preference.

However, higher concentrations might be more suitable for treating different ailments to lower concentrations, and it is wise to check the level of CBD in every product you use.

As a rule of thumb, people looking to use CBD for sleep, anxiety, digestion, relaxation or stress might take between 10mg and 25mg of CBD daily and use the lowest strength (300mg to 600mg), whilst those using CBD as a pain relief for conditions such as severe arthritis, back pain or migraines may want to take 30mg to 50mg of CBD per day and use higher concentration products (1200mg to 2400mg).

So remember that CBD oil comes in different concentration and that this will impact how many drops you need to take – for example Blessed 500mg CBD oil (5%) contains 1.25mg of CBD per drop, whilst their 1800mg CBD oil (18%) contains 4.5mg of CBD per drop.

Top 5 CBD Oils for Migraines

With over 150 CBD brands on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right CBD product. This is why the CBD Unboxed team has tried and tested most CBD products and brands available in the UK market and assessed them across 6 key areas:

  • Efficacy
  • Taste
  • Value for Money
  • Third Party Certification
  • Packaging
  • Shipping & Delivery

Based on our findings and whilst every person will be different, we would recommend the below five CBD oils to start with if you suffer from migraines.

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Still unsure about what product to choose? Take our CBD Quiz which has been designed specifically to identify the product and strength that is best suited to your personal needs.


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