Unheard of a decade ago, CBD oil is now used by millions of Americans and millions more around the world. But while we mostly talk about the health benefits of CBD tinctures, some people are asking, “Can CBD oil cause headaches?”
In this article, I will provide a simplified and extended answer to that question. We will explore whether the type of CBD oil may increase the likelihood of headaches, how to reduce your risk, and whether CBD could even soothe a throbbing migraine.
But that is all for later! So, can CBD oil give you a headache?
The Quick Answer
Yes, some people do suffer from headaches after taking CBD oil – but this is a rarely reported side effect. Indeed, many people use CBD to relieve headaches and migraines. It is unclear why CBD affects people differently regarding headaches.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabis component, federally legal in the U.S. when derived from hemp plants with less than 0.3% THC. CBD is a cannabinoid and part of the same family of compounds as THC, but it won’t get you stoned.
As a cannabinoid, CBD impacts the endocannabinoid system (ECS), an expansive biological network of receptors and neurotransmitters, or endocannabinoids. Early signs suggest that CBD promotes ECS regulation via endocannabinoid modulation.
Since 2014, hemp-derived CBD products, including tincture oils, have become more popular in the U.S. And CBD received a huge boost in 2018 after federal lawmakers approved the Farm Bill, definitively legalizing natural hemp-derived cannabinoids.
Types of CBD oil
CBD oil’s effects differ slightly depending on the type of hemp extract present. CBD-isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum hemp extract are all used in commercially available CBD products.
CBD-isolate extract is essentially plain CBD, with all of hemp’s other constituents stripped out. In contrast, full-spectrum CBD retains all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in hemp. Broad-spectrum hemp is like full-spectrum, minus the THC.
Does CBD Oil Cause Headaches?
There is no research confirming a link between CBD consumption and headaches. However, user anecdotes indicate that headaches are an occasional side effect of CBD oil. But is there anything in the scientific literature to suggest why?
In a word, no. If anything, headaches are among the least likely side effects of CBD, as demonstrated by a clinical review published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2017. The paper mentioned several side effects, but not headaches.
Despite this, some people still argue that CBD oil caused their headaches, and we shouldn’t dismiss their experiences. Let’s consider the issue more broadly and identify why some are seemingly suffering headaches from CBD.
Why Can CBD Oil Cause Headaches?
In the hundreds of studies involving pure, genuine CBD oil, none have thrown up headaches as a side effect. But a headache could be explained by misreading side effects, improper use, a low-quality tincture, or something else altogether!
Misreading side effects
While headaches are unusual, lightheadedness and dizziness are common CBD side effects. In some cases, you may be suffering from one of these and perceiving it as a headache. The brain can play funny tricks on us at times!
Try mentally reframing your situation the next time you feel iffy after a CBD dose. Is it a genuine headache, or would dizziness describe your circumstances better?
CBD is a non-toxic cannabinoid and well-tolerated in enormous quantities. However, hefty doses could still have adverse effects, especially if you are new to CBD. And first-timers are prone to misusing tinctures and accidentally taking massive dosages.
When trialing any new substance, you must follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. With CBD oil, that means starting small. It can take a while to settle on a sweet spot dose, but you might never find it if dabbling with hundreds of milligrams at a time!
Begin with a low amount and increase your CBD intake incrementally – the titration phase is vital to finding your optimum dose. Keep upping your serving until the negatives outweigh the positives, and then drop back a little!
Getting the right CBD dosage plan to avoid headaches and other symptoms is a personal journey. Age, body weight, metabolism speed, and health conditions can all affect how your body responds to CBD. Prepare for some trial and error at first.
Low-quality CBD oil
Headaches that occur after CBD oil use might not be caused by the CBD itself, but by a low-quality product. Impure hemp extract or inferior ingredients could be the culprit, and these may also trigger other unwanted effects.
Cheap and nasty CBD extracted using improper methods is often teeming with residual solvents, heavy metals, and other harmful byproducts.
Low-grade carrier oils and dilutants – the favorite "ingredients" of scammers – may also be behind any pulsing head pain. It’s hard to pin down the exact cause of a CBD oil-caused headache, but expect them from fake and untested products.
Correlation is not causation!
Scientists love this phrase, and rightly so! Just because you suffered a headache after taking CBD oil doesn’t necessarily mean it was caused by the tincture.
You could be dehydrated, under stress, sleep-derived, going through caffeine withdrawal, or literally any headache-inducing event. While you may correlate a headache with CBD oil use, there could be a more logical explanation.
However, if you experience headaches every time you consume the same CBD tincture, the product is probably the problem Don’t let that put you off CBD altogether – try another oil and see if you get a better result.
How to Reduce the Risk of Headaches Caused by CBD Oil
Headaches are an unacceptable price to pay for the benefits of CBD oil. Thankfully, you can take steps to limit the risks and enjoy a more satisfying CBD experience.
Purchase third-party tested products
Steer clear of low-quality CBD oil by purchasing from reputable, third-party tested brands. Frustratingly, there is little regulation in the hemp-derived CBD industry, which allows fraudsters to profit with fake and dangerous products.
Third-party lab testing is an effective antidote against scam artists. Since you cannot take the manufacturer’s word on the quality of their CBD tinctures, the responsibility falls upon independent laboratories. And it’s proven to be an excellent system.
Indeed, the customer and the producer benefit from third-party testing. The customer gets independent proof they are buying legit CBD oil and the producer distinguishes itself as a genuine brand in a market littered with fakes.
Third-party reports should detail how much CBD is in a tincture and if it contains less than 0.3% THC. But, in the context of headaches, it is the purity analysis that matters more than anything else.
You need confirmation that a product is free from residual solvents, heavy metals, mycotoxins, bacteria, and other harmful stuff. Furthermore, the lab report should clearly reference the product examined and the testing date.
Buy pure CBD oil
Stick with clean, unadulterated CBD oil and say no to tinctures with unnecessary ingredients. Cutting agents, dilutants, thinners, and artificial flavorings offer zero therapeutic benefits. But their presence makes a headache more likely.
High-quality CBD oil consists of supercritical CO2 hemp extract and a carrier oil, which is ideally MCT or hemp seed oil. Some fancy CBD products contain other plant extracts – these may be okay, but such extracts are another headache risk factor.
Dehydration is a common cause of headaches, so be sure to keep your fluids up after a CBD dose. Some suggest that CBD can alleviate dehydration symptoms, but don’t take that as an excuse not to drink water!
Don’t mix CBD oil with other substances
Combining CBD oil with prescription medication or alcohol is a recipe for trouble. Strange and unpredictable things can happen after subjecting your body to a cocktail of drugs – although a pounding headache is perhaps a surefire consequence.
Headaches are a notorious side effect of alcohol consumption, and research also shows that CBD interferes with many prescription meds. Annoyingly, CBD reduces activity among enzymes responsible for clearing many drugs from your system.
If your body cannot flush out medication at its usual rate, this will gradually increase the active concentration of the drug. Essentially, CBD could trigger another drug’s side effects, which might mean a vile headache.
Can Vaping CBD Oil Cause Headaches?
Yes, vaping a CBD tincture oil could give you headaches because it is not designed for vaping! CBD oil is for sublingual administration, topical application, or oral intake. You need an e-liquid, cartridge, or disposable pen if you want to vape CBD.
Can CBD Edibles Cause Headaches?
Possibly, depending on the ingredients present. As with CBD oil, any headaches are most likely due to low-quality hemp extract or other sketchy ingredients, not the CBD. Buy premium, third-party tested edibles, and don’t mix them with other drugs!
Can CBD Oil Relieve Headaches?
Can CBD oil cause headaches? Occasionally. But could it help relieve them, too? Scientific research shows that cannabinoids may alleviate headaches and migraines, with CBD playing a starring role in many potential remedies.
In 2021, the Cureus journal published a literature review on medical cannabis, headaches, and migraines. The authors found that medical marijuana – a THC and CBD combo – can reduce migraine duration and ease headaches of unknown origin.
However, we don’t have enough evidence to declare CBD effective at treating headaches. Most existing research looks at CBD and THC rather than CBD in isolation. CBD may work better in conjunction with THC.
Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency
The Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) concept proposed by cannabis researchers may explain the link between CBD and migraines. Advocates argue that some health conditions occur due to endocannabinoid system dysfunction.
Scientists have identified migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable syndrome as conditions caused by CECD. Studies show that migraineurs have lower levels of the vital endocannabinoid anandamide in their cerebrospinal fluid than non-sufferers.
Anandamide binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors, so a deficiency would inevitably cause dysregulation. Fascinatingly, CBD blocks anandamide reuptake, meaning it keeps more of the endocannabinoid in the body, combating any deficiency.
CECD is a solid scientific theory and perfectly feasible since the ECS wasn’t discovered until the 1990s. Research papers on CECD authored by Dr. Ethan Russo have received hundreds of journal citations, adding weight to the concept.
The Last Word
Hopefully, this article has answered your question, “Can CBD oil cause headaches?” The bottom line is no, a high-quality, purified CBD oil is extremely unlikely to give you a headache.
But screwing up your dosage or taking untested and unsafe CBD oil could make your head pound with pain. Despite CBD’s non-psychoactive status, it still demands respect. And you cannot be too careful with what you buy in this unregulated market.If you have been getting headaches after using obscure CBD products, consider trying a third-party tested oil instead. Don’t give up on CBD because of one dodgy product. Buy a tincture from CBD Genesis and turn your fortunes around!