Can CBD oil cause headaches

by Apoorva Shivankar, M.D

CBD- A Reliever or Promotor of Headache

Today, CBD is exploded in popularity with claims of treating almost everything from insomnia to diabetes. There is no denying that the CBD revolution is on us and the marketplace is buying in.

Can CBD oil cause headaches?

When the entire world is chanting the name of CBD oil for its flawless benefits, where did this question come from?

CBD oil for headaches

I even admit that the World Health Organization has declared CBD to be safe and effective; but dear, everything has a flip side too. You can hear a small section of complaints regarding CBD from some CBD users and should not ignore them. Rather investigate them, get the facts and then decide whether to use or not – that’s intelligent, isn’t it?

So, as of now, your ‘magical elixir’- CBD oil is under our jurisdiction to check whether using CBD oil can cause headache or not?

From the very beginning,

CBD Oil Identity:

CBD oil also known as cannabidiol oil available in the market is generally extracted from the hemp variety of cannabis plant. Cannabis contains >100 medicinal compounds called cannabinoids, of which Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetra hydro-cannabinol (THC) are the dominant ones.

Apart from cannabinoids, cannabis extracts also contain aromatic terpenes and flavonoids too. All these cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids have their own therapeutic benefits too. Being hemp-derived, this cannabis product is completely legal with <0.3% THC, zero psycho-activity, and a full range of medicinal properties of cannabis.

While talking of headaches, bear in mind, an increased concentration of THC (as seen in marijuana variety of cannabis) can give you a strong headache.

ALL-IN-ONE Drug- Medical Benefits of CBD Oil

Being a potent analgesic, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotector drug, the CBD oil can address almost every ailment and every system of the human body in some way or other. Right from depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, epilepsy, migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, skin issues, chronic conditions like diabetes and what not, every condition is positively influenced by this powerful CBD oil that too with almost nil side-effects, no fear of addiction or any intoxication. 

Does CBD make headaches go away?

Yes, CBD now-a-days is becoming the most sought-after drug for treating headaches especially migraine and cluster headaches.

Migraine headache

  • Affect 15% of global population and are extremely debilitating.
  • Characterized by extreme hemicranial pulsating headache associated with nausea and vomiting on exposure to triggering agents
  • Four ‘A’ benefit of CBD in migraine headaches
    • Analgesic: eases pain
    • Anti-emetic: reduces nausea and vomiting
    • Anti-inflammatory action: reduces the inflammation of the trigeminal nerve which otherwise initiates migraine headaches.
    • Anticonvulsive effects
  • Thus, CBD significantly reduces the severity, frequency as well as, duration (<1 hour) of migraine too.
  • Advantages of CBD over traditional migraine medications

    Not time-bound
    - CBD is not restricted by any time-frame and works well whenever administered, whereas traditional medications should be taken either prior to or within the first few minutes of headache.

    Minimal side-effects with CBD is an additional perk.

By the virtue of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is proving extremely beneficial in treating tension headaches, cluster headaches and even seasonal headaches.

Science behind the MAGIC of CBD:

CBD, in order to promote health, targets the most widespread biological system: THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS): consisting of endocannabinoids and receptors spread throughout the mammalian body. The sole function of ECS is to maintain the homeostasis of the body and prevent imbalances.

Any deficiency or dysfunction leads to derangements of the central and peripheral nervous system, digestion, mood, immunity, sleep, etc. manifesting as headaches, body aches, anxiety, depression, inflammation, gastric upset, visceral pains, sleep disorders, and what not.

Here’s where exogenous CBD like hemp-derived CBD oil come in and replace the deficiency of endocannabinoids or enhance ECS functioning (by preventing the breaking down of endocannabinoids) and thus, restore in and out homeostasis/ balance of your body. 

What are the side effects of CBD oil?

Anything that has effects can have side-effects too. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Generally, well-tolerated and considered safe, CBD may rarely cause any adverse effect. But there are exceptions too. Some users may present with minor side-effects such as,

  • Nausea – especially with really heavy doses.
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes


These effects may be attributed to individual variations in terms of sensitivity, responses, pre-existing health issues, drug interactions, or even sheer negligence.

Adverse reactions can also be due to a lack of consistency in terms of purity and labeling because of an absence of regulation and manufacturing guidelines.

  • Chronic use and high doses of up to 1500 mg per day have been repeatedly shown to be well tolerated by humans.1

Does CBD affect your head?

  • CBD can be influential on your brain by
    - Activating CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
    - The release of glutamate and dopamine neurotransmitters.
    - Triggering the serotonin receptors in the brain. 
  • The results and benefitted conditions are:


Conditions treated

Alerts brain

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)


Anxiolytic, Anti-depressant, Mood enhancer.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


Improve memory and prevent cognitive decline

neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc




neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease etc.

Antioxidant neuroprotective effects

neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s  disease  etc.

Calming down, stress-relieving effects

Sleep disorders


Can CBD oil make you feel unwell?

As with all substances, no matter how natural, we all respond in a different way.

The same is true for new CBD users too. One can experience

  • nausea,
  • low blood pressure,
  • light-headedness,
  • dry mouth, and
  • even some drowsiness (at higher doses) for the initial few days

So, can CBD OIL cause headaches?

Very unlikely.  How a proven analgesic used for the treatment of migraine, cluster headache, abdominal pain, post-surgical pain, etc can itself cause pain?

Having said that we do not completely deny the possibility and would like to share some supposed theories for that might be a cause of CBD headache:

  • Overwhelming/ Over-dosing effect: Most commonly seen.

Are you someone disappointed by CBD?

Someone who eagerly bought one for the first time, consumed it immediately with great hopes, and got a BIG HEADACHE?

My dear, don’t get angry. We appreciate your enthusiasm. But in that excitement, have you checked for the dose or quantity of CBD you have consumed.

‘Too much too soon’ can always cause headaches.

Our body needs time to get adjusted to anything new we consume. Higher doses especially in the initial few days are known to cause headaches.

CBD works worders with right doses at right time.

Simple Tip: The key is to go slow, get adjusted, increase the dose gradually and enjoy.

  • Polluted / Poor Quality CBD

With the skyrocketing demand for CBD, the limited supply and absence of regulation and manufacturing guidelines- Quality can’t be assured. You can find plenty of cheaper products with compromised quality in the market.

Headaches, you get, are mostly due to the impurities such as the higher concentration of THC, pesticides, heavy metals, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colouring agents, microbial contaminants and other impurities present in the CBD oil. Sometimes, low-quality CBD oils are mixed with ethanol or isopropanol to which some users maybe sensitive.

It depends on your sensitivity to a particular additive. So, if one product suits your friend, it is not necessary that it will suit you too. It may be a cause of headache for you.

Tip: Be vigilant, check the labels.

 Buy only high quality branded hemp-derived, the third party tested, organically cultivated impurity-free products.

  • Unexpected Reaction

Allergic response is very rare but can’t be denied as every individual is different with different sensitivities.

Tip: Always check your sensitivity with much lower doses before buying CBD oil or any other product.

Consult the doctor immediately, if you see any untoward action.

  • Detox Effect- Single beneficial explanation of CBD headaches

CBD is an energy-dense superfood with the potential to initiate detoxification of your body. Also known as ‘herxheimer reaction’, the released toxins temporarily exacerbate the symptoms being treated or create their own symptoms. Thus, the initial head-ache may be a positive symptom indicating that your body is undergoing detox- flushing out toxins and flooding in nutrients. Thus, headache due to CBD can be a benefit too.

So, the verdict is: Yes, CBD oil can cause headaches but only if you’re careless about its consumption or your body is detoxifying.

Tips to prevent adverse CBD headaches

  1. Stay hydrated.
  2. Follow proper doses.
  3. Make sure you buy good quality CBD oil. Organically cultivated and lab tested.
  4. Make sure it has 0 or <0.3% THC content, as more THC causes drowsiness and headache.
  5. Check labels for content and quantity.
  6. Go through Reviews.
  7. Consult with a doctor before application or consumption.
  8. Do hypersensitivity test first with smaller amounts.
  9. Try to avoid overthinking or over-stressing yourself. Ooopppps, that’s common sense, which we tend to forget.
  10. Do not try multiple forms, doses, brands of CBD simultaneously. Give 2-3 days’ time to your body to adjust.
  11. Last but not least - maintain a healthy lifestyle.



Who Should Avoid Using CBD?

  • Patients with liver disorders.
  • Pregnant and breast-feeding females.
  • Trying to Conceive.
  • Known Allergies to Cannabis Products
  • People on drugs— such as antipsychotics, blood thinners, blood pressure and pain medications.
  • Suffering from Low Blood Pressure.

Are CBD oil and hemp seed oil the same thing?


  • Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant that are rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
  • CBD oil, also known as ‘hemp extract’ is the normal CBD oil extracted from its leaves and stalks. It contains cannabinoids like CBD, THC, etc.; terpenes and flavonoids. 

How to take CBD Oil?

Mix and drink the required number of CBD Oil drops with your tea or coffee or

directly add the recommended number of drops under your tongue with the help of a dropper, wait for 2 minutes and then swallow.

How long can the CBD stay in your system?

It varies from person to person as well as with the different characteristics of CBD.

On average, it stays for 2-5 days in the human body.

Is CBD good for neuralgia or nerve pain?

Initial studies show a positive effect of CBD on nerve pain but more studies are needed to validate.

What is Medical Marijuana?

It is a prescription medication, a cannabis product containing >0.3% of THC, recommended by the doctor for a medical condition. 


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