Can CBD Oil Cause Headaches? | cannabisMD

Can CBD Oil Cause Headaches?

CBD oil to treat headaches, but can they cause headaches too?

CBD oil isn't all good like any potential medicine. It can have it's own side effects too although not major. Image Credit: By Aaron Amat on shutterstock

Headaches, a common health issue that most everyone experiences at some point in their lives, have many different causes. They can be self-inflicted (like through too many drinks at the office holiday party), related to an illness like the flu, resulting from poor nutrition or dehydration, along with a plethora of other known and proven culprits..
But can they be caused by CBD oil, a substance that’s been used to treat them?

For those who don’t know, Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound of the cannabis and hemp plant which has no psychotropic effect, and despite blame for causing headaches, has actually been used since ancient times to treat medical conditions such as body pain and headaches. Due to a number of promising studies, it’s currently being researched the world over for its medicinal potential. As reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, health issues from anxiety to arthritis to cancer have shown improvement after CBD use, yet anecdotal claims persist that CBD causes headaches.

Downsides to CBD Oil?

According to clinical studies, CBD has few minor side effects compared with standard pharmaceutical treatments. For epilepsy or psychological disorders, CBD treatment reported side effects like fatigue, diarrhea or change of appetite. In a review of CBD users where chronic pain was the top complaint, reported side effects include dry mouth, red eyes, and sleepiness. And within these studies, headaches aren’t mentioned as an adverse effect of CBD–in fact, they have been shown to benefit from CBD use.

Not to mention CBD oil is being pursued as a supplemental treatment for MS and cancer pain, and for schizophrenia over some pharmaceuticals because its few side effects are less severe. Many claims of CBD causing headaches are anecdotal, and research results suggest otherwise. A report from Experimental Neurology shows cannabinoids have therapeutic effects on migraines, and 20 years of research studies by leading neurologist and pharmacology researcher, Dr. Ethan Russo, affirm CBD’s benefits for headache sufferers. However, negative effects from CBD could be experienced for other reasons, like dosage, interactions with a specific condition that you have, or quality of the product.

CBD Dosage and Interactions

A recent study of CBD oil users reported that those common side effects, like heachache or fatigue, can result from “dose, interactions with prescription medications, or both”. This conclusion is also supported by a study from The International Journal of Neuroscience where CBD alleviated symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease patients but later caused worsening symptoms when the CBD dosage was increased. In 2015, the District of Columbia Department of Health compiled a list of prescription drugs whose effectiveness was either increased or decreased by CBD interaction.

It’s also important to know that CBD can negatively affect certain health issues or conditions. For example, recently the medical journal Phytomedicine reported that cannabinoids like CBD have blood-thinning capabilities that could work well for treatment of type 2 diabetes but, at the same time, would be dangerous for patients with hemophilia. While most CBD products are well-tolerated by the body — even at higher doses — their effectiveness ultimately depends on the biology of the person taking them and the quality of the CBD products they’re using.

CBD Product Quality and Source

In some cases, a CBD product’s quality may be the cause of negative effects like headaches. However, finding high quality CBD products can be difficult for many reasons:

  • Some products are made outside the United States with little or no regulation.
  • CBD oil is made from plants that are grown in different areas with different exposure to chemicals in the dirt and the air.
  • Different strains of plants contain different amounts of CBD.
  • There are no regulations for labeling CBD products.
  • Cannabis products are still illegal in many states, and illegal trade is harder to regulate.

Considering how even a natural supplement like CBD can negatively interact with other drugs or specific symptoms, using an unregulated, mislabeled CBD product could have severe consequences. In 2014, the American Medical Association conducted a test of CBD products, and found that only 17 percent of 74 total products were accurately labeled. Low-quality CBD oil has become so widespread that recently the US Food and Drug Administration sent out warning letters to caution the public about the dangers of mislabeled CBD products. A recent news report from Utah brought attention to fake CBD oil that caused illness in 52 people. Work is underway to regulate CBD products — in the meantime consumers must be careful and diligent when purchasing CBD products.

Bottom Line: CBD Relieves Pain

Like with any medication, if you choose to experiment with CBD oil for headache relief, you should first educate yourself about any possible risks. While there are known minor side effects of CBD oil — like sleepiness, change of appetite, and dry mouth — research provides us with a great deal of evidence that CBD not only does not cause but relieves pain from headaches in a safe way. However, each body is different, and factors like dosage, quality, and your own medical profile should be considered before beginning any new treatment.

The content on cannabisMD is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Megan Solga
Megan Solga
Megan Solga is an international educator and mental health advocate with a background in medicinal cannabis research. She enjoys whiskey, bluegrass, and life in the mountains.

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