Migraines are no joke, and according to the National Institute of Health, 95 % of Americans suffer from some version of them over a three-month period [1]. Characterized by chronic and debilitating pain, migraine headaches present a significant challenge to modern medicine. Despite the availability of conventional treatments, such as popular migraine medications, opioid medication overuse, headache prescriptions, and over-the-counter analgesics, efficacy varies among patients. Thus, many migraine sufferers search for alternative therapies [2].

The once-and-future prescription of medical cannabis has sparked considerable interest in the headache and migraine community. Yet, does cannabis really help relieve pain for migraine sufferers, or does it serve more as a placebo? This article provides some helpful perspectives on this issue. Additionally, it offers a historical and scientific review of cannabis use, examining various cannabis products’ potential.

Understanding migraine symptoms in relation to cannabis

If you suffer from migraine attacks, you understand the level of pain intensity that can consume your day-to-day existence. This debilitating experience often renders migraine sufferers incapable of normal functioning. A migraine attack is often accompanied by a range of symptoms. These may include nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and intense, pulsating headache pain [3].

In recent years, some migraine sufferers have been interested in medical cannabis, derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Containing powerful cannabinoids like THC and CBD, hemp and marijuana have gained popularity as potential wellness boosters for some people experimenting with its effects. However, there is not conclusive evidence that cannabis can effectively treat migraines [4].

Cannabis and neurotransmitters

Notably, THC and CBD, as well as other cannabinoids, interact with cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system via the endocannabinoid system. As such, this process potentially modulates sensation pathways and influences neurotransmitter release, including the calcitonin gene-related peptide [5]. According to some scientific studies, this cannabinoid-induced neurotransmitter activity may influence our perceptions [6]. However, more research is needed to draw conclusions regarding its precise effects.

Evidence-based treatments and controversies surrounding cannabis use and migraines

Despite the growing interest in the idea of cannabis for various medical conditions, including migraines, conclusive evidence is scarce.

However, some cannabis-derived medications have been approved for other illnesses. For example, the FDA has approved Epidiolex, a medication containing a purified form of cannabidiol (CBD), for the treatment of seizures linked with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome [7].

In addition, the agency has also sanctioned Marinol and Syndros for applications within the United States. These medications are utilized to alleviate nausea related to cancer chemotherapy and to treat anorexia and weight loss in AIDS patients. Marinol and Syndros contain dronabinol as the active ingredient, which is a synthetic form of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Similarly, Cesamet, another FDA-approved drug, contains nabilone as its active ingredient, which shares a chemical structure resembling THC  [7].

Are there any FDA-approved cannabis-based medications for migraines?

The FDA has not approved any cannabis-based medications specifically for migraines. While some studies suggest that medical cannabis may promote wellness in various arenas, others report conflicting results. Moreover, concerns about the potential adverse effects of cannabis use, further complicate the discussion [8].

Hence, the debate surrounding the perceived efficacy of cannabis and migraine management highlights the need for more rigorous clinical studies and systematic reviews. For now,  the question of whether cannabis or cannabis compounds can help migraine frequency or severity may be best left to personal research and experimentation. For example, internet searches of relevant studies may garner helpful information for migraine sufferers. Also, social media sites, such as Quora and Reddit, offer many first-hand reports and opinions on the subject [9].

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Current research

Research is ongoing to explore whether medical cannabis could potentially offer relief for migraine pain in some cluster headache and migraine patients. While anecdotal reports suggest that smoking marijuana might provide hope, the effectiveness of cannabis for alleviating migraine symptoms remains uncertain [10].

Medical cannabis use and patient perspectives

Among migraine sufferers, there is a subset of cannabis users who report using cannabis [11]. However, the subjective nature of patient-reported outcomes and the variability in cannabis formulations and dosages make it challenging to draw definitive conclusions. Furthermore, the stigma surrounding medicinal cannabis use and marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I controlled substance (vs hemp’s federal legality) present barriers for some migraine patients seeking alternative treatments.

Yet, as hemp-derived products become more acceptable and accessible, cannabis users have begun to explore products like CBD gummies and oils. These products are federally compliant and, some users report meaningful wellness benefits [12].

Future directions and research opportunities

Despite the existing limitations, the potential wellness properties of cannabis in migraine management warrant further investigation. For example, future research should focus on elucidating the mechanisms of action underlying cannabis’s effects on headache disorders. Additionally, studies should explore the results of delivery methods, such as inhaled cannabis or CBD flower vaporization. Also, the scientific community needs large-scale clinical trials and systematic reviews to establish evidence-based guidelines for the medical use of cannabis in treating migraines [13]. As of now, these trials are scant.

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Key takeaway: research cannabis and migraine outcomes for a better understanding

In conclusion, the relationship between cannabis and migraine remains complex and multifaceted. Thus, curious migraine sufferers need to make decisions based on their own research and medical provider’s advice regarding how cannabis affects them. It’s crucial to seek advice from a physician to help guide you toward appropriate medical treatment.

Future of cannabis and migraine research

As modern medicine continues to evolve, it is essential to approach the use of cannabis in migraine management with a critical and evidence-based perspective. Only through rigorous scientific inquiry and collaboration can we unlock the full potential of cannabis as a therapeutic option for chronic migraine sufferers [13].

In the meantime, check out Earthy Now’s wide range of fabulous hemp-derived products, which are popular for their many recreational and wellness benefits!

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Medical Disclaimer / Legal Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up-to-date, but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis are evolving. The author is neither a legal professional nor a medical expert. Before buying or using any products, you should check with your local authorities and medical providers.


  1. The Prevalence and Impact of Migraine and Severe Headache in the United States: Figures and Trends From Government Health Studies
  2. The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Patients with Migraine
  3. A Functional Medicine Approach to Migraines
  4. Web MD: Medical Marijuana and CBD Oils for Migraines
  5. Cannabinoids in Cerebrovascular Regulation
  6. Uncovering a Connection Between Cannabinoids and Migraine
  7. FDA and Cannabis: Research and Drug Approval Process
  8. Efficacy and Safety of Medical Marijuana in Migraine Headache: A Systematic Review
  9. Quora: Is Marijuana an Effective Remedy for Migraines?
  10. Medical Cannabis, Headaches, and Migraines: A Review of the Current Literature
  11. Short- and Long-Term Effects of Cannabis on Headache and Migraine
  12. Can CBD oil help with migraine?
  13. Marijuana’s Medical Future
  14. What Are the Health Benefits and Risks of Cannabis?

Frequently Asked Questions

The effectiveness of cannabis in treating migraines is still under investigation, and research findings vary. Thus, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before considering cannabis as a potential treatment option.

Though anecdotal reports on this subject abound, scientific research on this topic is limited. Thus, approach cannabis use for migraines cautiously and discuss options with a healthcare provider.

Some individuals may experience adverse side effects when using cannabis, such as dizziness, fatigue, or cognitive impairment.