We've all heard about the anecdotal and scientific evidence showcasing the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). This cannabinoid is obtained after heating and processing the naturally occurring CBDA. But increasingly, we hear about the adverse side effects that come with it.
CBD oil has been shown to have many benefits such as improved quality of life, relief from anxiety or depression, reduction in epileptic seizures, and so many more.
Interestingly, unlike THC, which can cause psychotropic effects in high doses , CBD also works on the GABA and serotonin receptors called an anxiolytic (anxiety reducer) and an antidepressant.
Researchers believe that CBD is safe for human consumption. However, there are some instances where it causes some adverse effects, including headaches.
Thanks to anecdotal reports from users, we wanted to dig deeper. Like you, we want to know the answer to the question, "Can CBD oil cause headaches?"
We aim to answer this question here and now with research-based facts we extracted from peer-reviewed studies.
Before you read on...
It's important to note that the majority of CBD users will experience no adverse effects whatsoever, but for those who do experience them, they are typically reported within the first two weeks of use.
But can CBD oil cause migraine headaches? And what about the other side effects?
First, let's talk about what CBD oil is and isn't.
What is CBD Oil?
Let's start from the beginning.
Cannabis, generally speaking, has been applied as an alternative medicine for thousands of years – around 3,000 years to be exact.
However, cannabis plants were made illegal only decades ago.
It wasn't until CBD was discovered and isolated back in the 1940s that limited research on this cannabinoid began.
Eventually, medical marijuana became legal in some regions of the US, and this is when the CBD industry first set its new roots.
Hemp-derived CBD oil was eventually legalized in 2018 with the passing of the Farm Bill. However, since legalization occurred, we've observed limited detailed clinical research for this incredible plant – and this includes the many cannabinoids it creates.
Is CBD Legal Throughout the US?
The US federally legalized CBD containing less than 0.3% THC. Thus, anyone taking CBD is limited to this percentage, even if it's full spectrum CBD.
This is why the hemp plant has become a mainstream crop.
Hemp plants contain lower THC concentrations. For this reason, CBD extraction usually involves hemp oil.
However, even when extracted from the hemp plant, CBD can combine with an assortment of other cannabinoids and terpenes, including the naturally occurring compound, THC.
A CBD dose can contain a limited concentration of THC. But since the market is highly unregulated, uncontrolled CBD can run rampant.
Thus, without the right documentation, ingesting CBD oil might involve more than the organic CBD oil the label claim you purchased.
Benefits of CBD Oil
CBD oil users report countless benefits from CBD consumption. But the anecdotal evidence isn't concrete.
We need the facts!
Clinical trials have been conducted to uncover the truth surrounding this oil. And while these clinical trials don't compare the effects of poor quality CBD with high quality oil, they do analyze how this naturally occurring compound found in hemp and marijuana plants impact the body.
CBD for seizure mitigation. This study analyzed the anticonvulsant properties of a fully synthetic analogue of CBD, which has effectiveness similar to cannabis-derived CBD. The study found that it decreases the number and reduces the severity of pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures in rats, showing its efficacy in seizure mitigation.
CBD for anxiety disorders. This study found evidence that strongly supports CBD use as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder with emphasis placed on the CBD dose. The evidence from human studies highlights CBD's anxiolytic role. However, it's limited to acute dosing.
CBD for opioid addiction. CBD oil offers an inhibitory effect, which might aid people in managing opioid addiction-related cravings and anxiety. During this short-term study, 42 patients took CBD oil and reported a reduction in cravings for up to a week following a CBD dose, suggesting that CBD oil could be a tool in combating addiction.
CBD for depression. CBD is hailed for its calming effects. During one study in mice, researchers found that CBD has comparable effects to the antidepressant imipramine. While human trials are still essential, it's possible that CBD oil can produce the same antidepressant reaction in humans, as well.
ALS symptom relief. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that deteriorates brain and spinal cord nerve cells. This results in a loss of muscle control that progressively gets worse over time. Research highlights that the entourage effect, created when combining THC with CBD, can help with the associated symptoms of this disease.
CBD for unmanageable pain relief. Continuous studies occurring throughout the US aim to show CBD's efficacy in treating chronic, non-cancer pain. During a 2020 study, researchers used topic CBD administration on a group of patients that had symptomatic peripheral neuropathy while giving other subjects experiencing the same condition a placebo. The results showed that CBD reduced the intense, sharp pains, as well as the cold, itchy sensation. None of the patients reported negative side effects.
Other studies highlight CBD's benefits and potential uses. But let's move on to discuss the potential side effects of CBD oil.
Potential Side Effects of CBD Oil
CBD oil comes with a host of side effects. Despite wondering, “Can CBD oil cause headaches,” it's probably a good idea to know what other side effects CBD use might cause.
Here's a list and a bit about each of the potential side effects CBD oil users might experience:
Lower blood pressure. Some studies show that CBD products might assist in lowering blood pressure. While lower blood pressure is a positive thing for people who have high blood pressure, this could be problematic for those who are prone to sudden blood pressure drops.
CBD may improve blood flow by widening blood vessels temporarily. However, if CBD oil can cause this to happen and the person already has low blood pressure, they're at risk of passing out.
Another issue related to CBD intake is how it interacts with blood thinners. In fact, CBD has been known to increase the level of the blood thinner Coumadin in the blood. It impacts the body's blood the same way grapefruit juice can, which is why it's recommended to avoid taking CBD if you're on blood thinners.
Dry mouth. Commonly associated with the cannabis plant psychoactive compound THC, a saliva production decrease or "cotton mouth" can result from CBD, too. It can also result in a person's eyes feeling dry.
This is because CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory, a property that's known to contribute to dry mouth. It can be combated by having a drink nearby when working with the substance so you don't end up feeling dehydrated.
Neurological and psychological side effects. CBD oil products may cause some mild side effects related to the brain and the psyche. The majority of these side effects are mild to moderate and only last for a short period of time.
CBD oil can impact a user's ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions, as well as their social behavior. While research suggests CBD doesn't have negative effects on learning or memory, it does appear to impact a user's short-term cognitive function. This is because CBD directly impacts the hippocampus in the brain, which is responsible for thinking and memory.
Chemical imbalances. The endocannabinoid system is made up of 2 receptors: CB1 and CB2. THC and CBD directly interact with these receptors in the body, activating them to produce various physiological effects.
It's been shown that CBD can have a modulating effect on the ratios of both receptors. Creating an imbalance in the system can result in some side effects, including: nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Mercury contamination. CBD derived from hemp plants can, on rare occasions, be contaminated with traces of mercury. This is because hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning it absorbs contaminants and toxins from the soil. Thus, absorbing mercury isn't so far-fetched for these plants.
Industrial hemp grown for CBD oil can be contaminated with various chemicals including pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals.
Hemp plants are forced to absorb this stuff in order to survive. However, these particles aren't good for human consumption.
Dizziness. Does CBD oil cause headaches? Sometimes, but this could also result from the onset of dizziness you might experience.
CBD and THC are in the same family, which means they share some of the same traits. Both can cause drowsiness, even when taken in very low doses.
Dizziness can be easily combated by avoiding activities that could lead to loss of balance or falling while on CBD products. If you feel dizzy for an extended period of time after taking CBD products, consult with your health care provider.
Anxiety and paranoia. In some cases, taking a CBD product can result in feelings of being on edge or feeling tense. In very rare cases, it could even lead to feelings of paranoia.
At the moment, there's no conclusive evidence to suggest that CBD can cause these effects in healthy people. However, this doesn't mean that you won't feel anxious when using CBD products. If you do experience these effects, they should go away after a few hours.
If you feel that the CBD oil is leading to feelings of paranoia or anxiety, discontinue its use and consult a physician.
It's important to remember that CBD products are still very new, and while the cannabis plant has been used for thousands of years, the long-term effects of CBD oils on our endocannabinoid system are unknown. This is especially important to consider when using CBD products manufactured by this largely unregulated space.
Drowsiness. The drowsiness CBD users experience could be considered a positive side effect for some. But for those taking CBD during the day, sleepiness isn't always welcome.
Since CBD helps people de-stress and relax, it makes sense that it might cause sleepiness. This is especially the case if someone is sensitive to CBD or takes an excessive dose.
Nausea. CBD oil can cause nausea, too. While most people react differently, for someone extremely sensitive to CBD, a few drops of it in a carrier oil could cause nausea. Ultimately, this depends on the CBD dose and the person's CBD sensitivity. But certain CBD products offer higher absorption rates than others, which is equally important to consider.
For example, the absorption rate of CBD in gummies isn't as high as the absorption rate of tinctures and vapes. This will contribute to a different experience for each product.
Headaches. Can CBD cause headaches? Some say "yes." However, this is one of the rarest symptoms of taking CBD.
If you're prone to chronic headaches or have a medical condition that increases your chances of having a headache, you might want to avoid CBD. Even if you find
Surprisingly enough, CBD headaches or migraines are among the least common side effects CBD users experience. While some users report headaches after taking CBD, it's quite rare.
There's an argument to be had about whether or not taking CBD oil can cause headaches. But some clinical research outlines why these headaches might occur.
Clinical Trials Answering "Can CBD Cause Headaches"
The fact that the hemp industry is still largely unregulated makes it difficult to determine how safe CBD is comprehensively. With this being the case, it's rather challenging to uncover individual reports showcasing whether CBD oils cause headaches.
Despite this fact, one 2017 report covering the safety and effects of CBD offer some insight into the common side effects of these products.
This report analyzed appetite alterations, diarrhea, drowsiness, hypertension, lightheadedness, and weight gain as the few common side effects of CBD.
However, this in-depth report does not discuss CBD causing headaches among the subjects analyzed.
This is why many believe that the culprit behind CBD side effects is side effect confusion.
Confusing CBD Side Effects
While CBD can cause feelings of lightheadedness that could result in a headache, the idea is unproven.
What's clear here is that most CBD users do not typically experience headaches, which highlights the likelihood that this is most likely a coincidence in people who experience headaches after taking CBD.
If you find that you have a headache after taking CBD, there's likely a reason why you feel this way. But it doesn't necessarily mean that your headache came from the CBD itself.
Headaches are quite common and many factors can come into play here. Most of the time, it's as simple as dehydration. But other reasons can exist, including:
Taking Too Much CBD
Taking too much of any medication or supplement can be problematic. The dose is always crucial to achieve the efficacy desired.
While relatively safe, CBD sensitivity for high doses is quite high. This becomes more obvious when looking at the negative side effects that come with the wrong dose or an uncontrolled dosage of CBD.
Whether a person takes too much or too little CBD, a headache or other side effect can result. This is most likely why studies don't typically report headaches; these studies are controlled and closely monitored with specific dose quantities administered to subjects.
Furthermore, it's important to remember that everybody has a different response to specific doses of CBD. Thus, it's essential to discuss how much CBD you should be taking with your doctor before using it to treat a health condition.
Can Taking CBD Oil Cause Headaches?
So, can CBD cause headaches? Well, if you're taking large doses of CBD oil or using poor quality CBD regularly, you might experience headaches.
But can CBD cause tension headaches?
Tension headaches are a common headache that often stem from a muscle strain or tension in the neck, shoulders, and head. Taking too much of a CBD product can result in symptoms resembling these headaches.
Other factors may increase your risk of getting tension headaches while taking CBD oil. These factors include:
Certain conditions present at birth such as migraines are known to cause intense headaches. If you have this condition or if you suffer migraines frequently, it's best to avoid using high doses of CBD without consulting a physician first.
Additionally, any medical history of migraine should be considered before you start taking CBD supplements.
Serious health concerns
People who have preexisting conditions that might result in fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, and headaches should not take CBD until they discuss the matter with a physician first.
Poorly made products
Some CBD products aren't made properly or are made using low-quality ingredients that contain chemicals, solvents, pesticides, etc… These chemicals ultimately make you more prone to experiencing a headache than when you don't use CBD at all.
If you experience headaches after taking cannabis oil or another CBD product, consult your doctor immediately. This is especially true if you have other symptoms related to your headaches which could include feeling nauseous, vomiting or having severe stomach aches.
If left untreated for too long these symptoms can lead to serious issues, so it's important that you seek treatment as soon as possible.
Additional Concerns with CBD Oil
The best CBD products are made from cannabis oil that's rich in CBD and other cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Typically, this is extracted directly from the cannabis plant. However, you also have access to an isolated form through hemp oil.
Hemp contains trace amounts of THC but is not nearly enough to cause a high or any critical side effects. Regardless, it's important that you check for purity when choosing a CBD product.
Just because your CBD oil says it's pure CBD oil doesn't mean it really is pure. Some CBD oil products contain fillers like propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol which can be harmful if consumed regularly and in large doses.
Can Other CBD Products Cause Headaches?
Regardless of which CBD product you take, it's possible for it to cause headaches. Perhaps not directly, but indirectly.
A dry mouth can come from too much of a potent CBD extract. But what about other CBD products?
This all depends on bioavailability and dosing. Here's some insight into several products and how a low dose can cause side effects not dissimilar to your prescription medications:
CBD topicals offer the lowest bioavailability with this drug administration. These are your creams, lotions, and balms that have been infused with the cannabinoid.
The way CBD works as a topical makes it have the lowest bioavailability available. Our skin is basically a barrier of water that keeps CBD, a fat-soluble cannabinoid, from getting absorbed. However, topicals still have their place in the market for some consumers.
Ingested CBD bioavailability is between 6 and 19 percent. This is partially because CBD isn't readily absorbed upon ingestion. Thus, the majority of this compound is excreted without impacting the body.
CBD Gummies & Edibles
Low dose CBD edibles can cause side effects if you take enough of them. However, edibles also offer low bioavailability. Therefore, if you're taking CBD in the form of a gummy or chocolate bar, you might experience little to no effects.
Ingesting edibles is an entirely different subject compared to topical and capsules because we have gastrointestinal issues to consider. CBD products that get digested will be processed by your liver before it enters into your bloodstream. This makes the pathway rather long and complicated as this organ [the liver] has one main job: to filter toxic chemicals.
CBD use isn't dangerous, but you might experience an upset stomach or some other minor side effect depending on the dosage. But keep in mind, if your CBD use is excessive, you might find yourself experiencing at least one headache comparable to what one might expect from caffeine withdrawal.
CBD tinctures are becoming increasingly popular on the wellness market. Regardless of how many people might mention headaches or muscle tremors, tinctures are one of the go-to's in this sector because of the high bioavailability.
Tincture bioavailability is between 13 and 19 percent. This is because these products are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream once swallowed.
Thus, if you take 20mg of CBD, you can expect right around 3mg to end up in your bloodstream.
Inhaling CBD is highly effective. Despite the risk of respiratory diseases from smoking and vaping, the bioavailability of vape products and pre-rolled hemp flower joints make these products desirable.
While a poor quality product might contain residual solvents due to the extraction process, vapes usually have a higher bioavailability than tinctures or edibles. In other words, you're more likely to feel the effects of CBD, and you might experience some unpleasant side effects like headaches if your bioavailability is too high.
Are Low Quality CBD Products More Likely to Cause Headaches?
Low quality CBD may use chemical methods for extraction and chemical fertilizers throughout the grow process. While some studies highlight CBD as an anti inflammatory, the fact of the matter is that with low quality products, CBD use can be dangerous.
If you have a serious medical condition, low quality CBD can exacerbate it. And if you're prone to headaches, you can expect at least one headache from a sub-par product.
Microbial contamination is more likely with sub-par quality CBD, too. This means that you're at risk of developing a sensitivity toward CBD that may require you to take breaks or even discontinue use altogether. That being said, microorganisms aren't necessarily bad for your health; in fact, they're essential to our survival as human beings!
Fortunately, if you feel like your CBD is causing headaches, this might be directly tied to the quality and purity of your product.
What Should I Do If CBD is Causing Headaches?
First and foremost, if you're experiencing headaches while taking CBD, you should probably stop taking it. The next step is to speak with a medical professional about your CBD intake.
If your CBD is of questionable quality, you might want to ask yourself why you're taking it in the first place. If you have experience using high purity products with minimal side effects, you might simply be too sensitive for this compound.
In fact, if CBD is causing headaches despite a low dose, then talk to a doctor about going on a break from CBD for a few weeks or maybe even switching brands! That being said, if these solutions didn't solve your problem and if your CBD use appeared safe up until now (some people take large doses of CBD daily as part of their routine), then it's probably best that you quit altogether.
Concluding on CBD Headaches
Keep this information in mind as you purchase CBD. And remember, if you experience any adverse side effects, consult your physician as soon as possible!
We hope that this article has been informative, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at any time! Our knowledgeable doctors are ready to assist you with all of your medical marijuana questions!
Feel free to contact us at any time if you need help on how to get a medical marijuanas card in VA.