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Can CBD Cause Headaches?

October 14, 2019 5 min read

As the CBD industry skyrockets across the US, we see it used more frequently for everything from promoting general wellness and overall health to a wide array of other uses, like anti-inflammatory, relieving neuropathic pain, and stimulating a more stable mood.  Though anecdotal, a growing community has incorporated CBD into their daily routine.  When you take something every day, though, there are bound to be some unwanted side effects, however minor they may be.

No matter how helpful CBD products may be, there are a few potential side effects involved, like a fluctuation in blood pressure, drowsiness, and - according to some reports and our main topical for today - headaches.  While the latter is contested, we want to dive into why and how CBD oil could cause headaches, the reasons behind each type of headache CBD oil might have the potential to cause, and much more.  Let's dig into the big question at hand: Can CBD cause headaches?

what is cbd?

As a quick summary, CBD, or cannabidiol is the second most-abundant cannabinoid in cannabis and the first-most abundant cannabinoid found in hemp.  By law, hemp was legalized and rescheduled as a commodity by the 2018 passing of the Farm Bill and as such, CBD products have exploded into mainstream as long as those products are hemp-derived and possess a THC content under 0.3%.

When CBD enters the body, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps to regulate other bodily functions to achieve homeostasis.

why does cbd have side effects?

Before we can explore if CBD oil can cause headaches, we first have to look at why it can cause side effects in the first place.  Just like any other drug or consumable substance, there can be both positive and negative side effects.  The fact that CBD can cause a slight drop in blood pressure or an increase in wakefulness or drowsiness means that some people may just want to be careful with the quantity of CBD they consume at any one time.  Additionally, we must always recommend speaking with a physician before you start incorporating CBD into your daily wellness routine.

Dependent on the dosage, the effects CBD will have on the ECS can vary greatly, though they typically work in tandem with each other.  In some cases, depending on the serving size of the CBD product at-hand, your CB2 receptors within the ECS could relax the vascular system, allowing blood to flow easier throughout the body, which usually results in lower blood pressure.

Likewise, depending on when you take CBD in the day, its effect on your wakefulness can vary.  This was observed in a study on rats' modulated sleep cycles through CBD's influence.  Through the study, researchers concluded that CBD could modulate wakefulness by activating neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRD) and hypothalamus.

Both of these side effects imply at least a modest positive impact on the body; so where does that leave CBD as a cause for headaches?  Why might CBD cause them, if it does at all?

can cbd cause headaches?

Here's the skinny: if CBD was likely to cause a headache, there would be more individual reports on the matter.  While the hemp industry makes it difficult to determine the legality and safety of CBD products, it's harder still to be able to assess individual reports back of the lack of reliability in products across the country.

Since it's so hard to find individual reports, even though we believe there should be more than we've seen, we fall back on clinical trials and other points of evidence.  A comprehensive report published in 2017 on the safety and effects of cannabidiol touched on it causing appetite changes, weight gain, drowsiness, diarrhea, dry mouth, hypertension, lightheaded-ness, and the vascular relaxant properties we mentioned above.  Nowhere in this well-compiled report does it mention headaches, though lightheaded-ness could be a symptom that leads some users to a headache.

so what would cause a headache?

CBD doesn't appear to be the cause of headaches.  Some people still seem to report that they developed the head pain specifically from CBD oil, so let's look at the potential reasons for what may actually be causing the headache.

association by proxy

A headache is a vague word for a wide range of intensities and types of pains that could be going on in your old noggin.  There are mildly aching headaches, tension or stress headaches, chronic migraines, and many other headaches in between.  These could be the result from too much light exposure, not enough food or a bad diet, or even something more serious like a brain tumor.

We have no way of knowing for certain, but what if even a portion of the people that report headaches from using CBD oil were just about to get a headache anyway?  Likewise, if you used CBD oil to feel relief from a certain discomfort, the headache may simply still be there even though CBD helped with the rest.

Any type of erroneous association could be the reason people are stating CBD oil gives them headaches even when there are no known reports, studies, or trials to confirm it.

low quality cbd

The second reason your CBD oil may cause you headaches even when these products, in general, aren't supposed to could just be that you have low-quality CBD oil.  Every CBD rband is different, and more than you'd expect, like to cut corners and skimp on quality to make their products more cost-effective.  Since the CBD industry remains heavily unregulated, CBD oil can be found in a vast range of different qualities.

Easy ways to avoid brands that don't focus on the quality of their products is to first look at the ingredients list for the product in-question.  It should contain a minimal number of ingredients; the more there are in each product, the more likely they use bulking ingredients to make their products stretch.  Beware of cheap ingredients such as solvents as well, indicating a clear red flag that was most likely made during the extraction process.

You should also look at the lab results of a brand before you purchase their CBD.  A trustworthy CBD company, such as Envy CBD, will provide detailed Certificate of Analysis (COA) reports that indicate a comprehensive list of what exactly is contained in each product and what is not contained in it.  A product needs to not only verify that it is THC-free, but must also be free of pesticides, heavy metals, microbial contamination and any other contaminants that might otherwise prove a health risk upon consumption.

CBD products that are not tested consistently or that contain filler ingredients are often one of the root causes for giving people a headache.  It's not the CBD that is hurting you at this point, but rather, the other ingredients used to dilute the oil and make it less effective overall.  Stick with a brand that remains transparent with their process and their ingredients so you can stay confident that you're consuming a high-quality hemp extract.

unexpected reaction

Finally, the only other reason we can come up with for why CBD could cause headaches is an unexpected - and unheard of - allergic reaction to the cannabinoid.  We won't rule something that hasn't been proven yet, but there aren't any medical studies or trials that indicate a link between CBD and allergic reactions of any king.

CBD is also not believed to be linked to neither migraines nor headaches, though there are some mild, unpleasant side effects that over-consumption can cause.  We recommend using the serving size on the label to ensure you don't take more than the suggested amount, which further prevents any potentially negative side effects.


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