CBD Capsules, Pills, or Edibles for Migraine Relief
The use of CBD for migraines is exploding, but many questions have been left unanswered about the best ways to take CBD. There are several ways to absorb CBD: inhalation, oral, sublingual, or topical cream. Each method comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. This research-backed article focuses on the oral use of CBD, which includes pills, capsules, and edibles.
9 Things You Should Know About Oral CBD Absorption for Migraine Relief
9. What is the Oral Method of CBD Absorption?
Research refers to swallowing a hemp or CBD pill, capsule, extract, or edible (such as a CBD cookie) as “oral absorption.” You can absorb hemp extract orally or sublingually. Sublingual absorption is when you place the extract under your tongue for 30 to 90 seconds for faster CBD absorption before you swallow the remainder, which you can read more about here. If you put hemp extract in your mouth and immediately swallow it, it’s called oral absorption, not sublingual absorption. Oral absorption happens in the gut and that is what this article is all about.
8. It’s Easy and Discrete
Oral absorption is not the fastest method of CBD absorption, nor is it the most effective. Sublingual absorption is superior to oral absorption in just about every aspect, save for two. Most high-quality hemp extracts taste bad and they don’t look pretty. It’s awkward to place a strange dropper under your tongue, squirt it, and hold a nasty brown liquid there for 90 seconds. I use hemp extract sublingually because it is the best all-around method for CBD absorption, but it’s not a pleasant experience. A CBD capsule is easy to take, it’s tasteless, and you can quickly swallow it without worrying about anyone in the office asking, “Why can’t you talk and what’s that brown stuff in your mouth?”
7. CBD Capsules Are a Set Dosage
Finding your ideal dosage of CBD can be a tricky game. Capsules are set to specific amounts of CBD such as 15 mg or 25 mg. That set dosage might not work. You may need less or more CBD for migraine prevention or relief. The dosage that makes you feel best may also be difficult to notice because of the delayed absorption time or oral CBD.
Hemp extracts make it easier to find and adjust your CBD dose because you can easily add more drops until you find your optimum dose. However, if you don’t like the taste and fail to take your hemp extract every day, you may find that the CBD capsules are easier to adhere to regularly. Migraine prevention can take time and consistency is important. CBD capsules may help you meet your long-term goals. You may also find that the arbitrary dosage found in a hemp capsule works fine for preventing your migraines. For more information about finding your CBD dosage, read my article here
6. Long-Lasting Relief
Oral ingestion of cannabinoids such as THC or CBD will provide peak blood levels anywhere from one to six hours after ingestion, depending on factors such as the dosage, quality, and ingredients of the product.  For example, you would feel the effects of eating a high-dose marijuana brownie for about four to six hours after eating. A high dose of CBD doesn’t come with strong side effects and you would have the most relief starting in as little as an hour. After six hours, the medicinal benefits will begin to diminish as blood levels of cannabinoids are reduced. This long-lasting relief is comparable to sublingual absorption and makes hemp-extract capsules a good option for migraine prevention.
5. CBD Pills and Bioavailability
There are several factors that reduce the bioavailability of cannabinoids such as CBD or THC, which have similar absorption rates. Bioavailability is the amount of cannabinoids that make it into your blood after ingestion and it depends on the method of absorption, the individual, the quality of CBD product, its ingredients, and the study. CBD vapor or CBD taken sublingually has high bioavailability because it rapidly enters the blood in high quantities. Anything that you eat or swallow needs to be processed by the gut lining and liver before it enters the blood and this is where you lose cannabinoids, which is referred to as “first-pass metabolism” in cannabinoid research.
The bioavailability or absorption rate of oral administration is the lowest of all the methods of CBD absorption. In many studies, sublingual administration absorbed twice as many cannabinoids as the oral method of cannabinoid absorption.       However, the research is conflicting and there are also studies that show certain cannabinoid extracts taken orally have a bioavailability that is on par with studies on sublingual absorption.  It’s possible that a high-quality hemp capsule will have a higher absorption rate than a low-quality CBD product that is taken sublingually. In general, though, the absorption rate for an identical cannabinoid extract is higher when taken sublingually than when administered orally.
4. CBD in the Migraineur’s Gut
Oral medicines are a problem for many migraine sufferers because migraines are associated with gastroparesis, which delays the stomach emptying into the gut. When the medicine finally makes it into the gut, if it does at all, it may have reduced absorption if there is inflammation in the gut, which is more likely in migraine sufferers. The gut is considered the second brain and inflammation in the gut is a big problem in migraine sufferers, which you can read more about here. Gut problems will reduce the absorption rate of cannabinoids and may make CBD capsules a bad option for some migraine sufferers.
3. CBD Capsules Are for Migraine Prevention
If your gut is in good shape, which is unlikely for migraine sufferers, it will still take 30 to 90 minutes to absorb CBD. Every second lost when digesting CBD in the gut makes a difference when attempting to abort an oncoming migraine or relieve a migraine that is already here. Due to the slow absorption rate, CBD capsules are best used for migraine prevention and may not be fast enough for immediate migraine relief.
2. CBD Capsules and the Entourage Effect
Some CBD capsules come with the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the increase in the medicinal benefits of CBD as a result of the combination of other cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, healthy fats, and other nutrients found within the hemp plant. The entourage effect could make the difference between migraine freedom and no migraine relief at all, which I describe in-depth in my book.
Many hemp extracts intended for sublingual use or vaporization don’t come with the entourage effect because the taste of these nutrients can be unpleasant. Some vape or sublingual CBD products mask the taste with flavorings, which may trigger migraines. CBD capsules can easily provide the entourage effect as well as natural ingredients because manufacturers don’t need to worry about the taste.
CBD capsules that provide the entourage effect are often called “full-spectrum hemp extract.” You’ll also want to ensure the capsule contains healthy fats from something like MCT oil, olive oil, or hemp seed oil. Healthy fats may increase the absorption of CBD by up to three-fold. The body uses healthy fats to produce endocannabinoids, which CBD also converts into, to fight migraines. Choosing CBD capsules with healthy fats and the entourage effect can improve the low CBD absorption rates that oral absorption comes with.
1. Fake CBD Capsules
Fake CBD products may be the largest risk you will take when attempting to use CBD for migraine prevention. According to the FDA and a study published in JAMA, the majority of CBD products on the market are mislabeled or straight up fake.  Learning why these fake CBD products are on the market and how to avoid them is a must for anyone who wants to use CBD, which I elaborate on in this article.
For the best all-around method of CBD absorption for migraine, check out my article on sublingual absorption.