CBD Vape for Migraine Relief

The inhalation, or vape, form of CBD for migraine relief. Includes cited studies and illustrations to tell the story. 10 Things You Should Know About Vaping CBD for Migraine Relief.

CBD Vape for Migraine Relief

There are several ways to absorb CBD for the treatment of migraine: inhalation, oral, sublingual, or topical cream. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. This article discusses the inhalation, or vape, form of CBD for migraine relief. CBD vapor helps migraine sufferers, but you should read the whole article because there are some risks and caveats that you’ll want to discuss with your doctor before you go out and start puffing some CBD.

If you’re wondering why so many people are using CBD for migraine relief, you can learn about some of the science here or in my book Hemp for Migraine.

10 Things You Should Know About Vaping CBD for Migraine Relief

10. Vaping CBD Provides Speedy Migraine Relief 

Inhaling CBD vapor is the fastest way to increase cannabinoids in the blood, taking just a couple of minutes.[1] And yes, speed is important when fighting an oncoming migraine.

Excedrin Migraine includes caffeine to speed its active ingredients through the blood, and there are injectable versions of triptans that save time by bypassing the gut. Pharmaceutical companies know from extensive research that migraine drugs need to work as quickly as possible to stop a migraine in its tracks. Cannabinoids such as CBD are no different. New research shows that cannabinoids need to get into the bloodstream in a timely manner for migraine relief.[2]

Time may not matter when you use CBD for daily migraine prevention, but it makes a big difference when you are attempting to stop an emerging headache before it develops into a full-blown migraine. Something like a CBD pill might not absorb fast enough to relieve a migraine that’s here, now. Plus, inflammation in the gut is super common in migraine sufferers, which may limit the absorption of CBD from a pill form.

Inhaled CBD also has the highest bioavailability of all CBD absorption methods, which means you absorb more CBD from its vapor form than you would from a CBD capsule or a sublingual extract. CBD vapor is fast and effective.

CBD vapor quickly bypasses the gut in hopes of stopping a migraine before it’s too late.

9. Migraine Vape Relief: Easy Come, Easy Go

The speed advantage that comes with vaping CBD is also its biggest drawback. Although inhaling cannabinoids is the fastest method of absorption, it also provides the shortest time of relief: approximately one to three hours.[3] CBD in the blood immediately skyrockets, but steadily leaves the body over a four-hour period. The speediness of vaping CBD makes it ideal for immediate migraine relief or for fighting off an oncoming migraine, but it isn’t a great option for maintaining the stable levels of CBD required for daily migraine prevention.

8. Your CBD Vape Dosage

Your CBD dosage for migraine prevention is likely to fall between 15 mg and 100 mg of CBD per day from a full spectrum hemp extract that you take sublingually or orally (full article). Vaping CBD for migraine relief is even more of a guessing game.

There are several factors that typically make vaping CBD inconsistent.

It’s hard to measure a CBD dose from vapor, which makes vaping CBD less accurate and less consistent than using CBD sublingually or orally for daily migraine prevention. Some manufacturers recommend filling up your vapor cartridge with 25 or 50 mg of CBD and vaping throughout the day. However, most migraine sufferers are using CBD vape for immediate relief, which may require a higher dose than the dose used for migraine prevention.

CBD may abort an oncoming migraine by replenishing low levels of endocannabinoids. The amount of CBD required depends on your individual endocannabinoid levels. There are also many variables that increase the effectiveness of CBD, such as other cannabinoids, terpenes, and nutrients found within a hemp extract.

So, your CBD dosage depends on the type of hemp extract that you are using and your individual endocannabinoid levels. There’s no research on vapor-form CBD for migraine relief and finding your dose will be a process of trial and error. To learn more about how to find a CBD dosage and the pitfalls to avoid, click here.

7. Vape Stress Away

Research has shown that stress is the number one migraine trigger. Peer-reviewed research has also found that measures to relieve stress, such as anti-anxiety medications, biofeedback, and simple relaxation exercises, are some of the most effective migraine treatments.

In a nutshell, emotional stress increases the oxidative stress that triggers migraines. CBD, on the other hand, reduces both emotional stress and oxidative stress. [4] [5] The emergence of CBD and anti-anxiety research is impressive, and there are thousands of personal testimonials online with people claiming that CBD helps lift a cloud of anxiety and stress like nothing else. I believe it. I use CBD to relieve stress. My wife uses CBD to control stress and prevent migraines. When I inhale CBD vapor when I am stressed and feel like a bubble that’s ready to pop, the stress leaves my body almost as soon as I exhale. It’s life-changing for many people.

The endocannabinoid system’s ability to relax the body is important for relieving migraines, even if emotional stress is not your primary migraine trigger. Vaping CBD can immediately reduce stress before it triggers a migraine and can help immediately reduce oxidative stress levels before they overflow the headache threshold and trigger a migraine. I go more in-depth on this subject in my book, and I will also have an upcoming article on this fascinating subject soon.

6. The Entourage Effect, Migraine, and CBD Vapor

Most of the vape juice on the market is from CBD isolate (pure CBD), which is missing the entourage effect. The entourage effect is when other cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, healthy fats, and other nutrients found in the hemp plant increase the medicinal benefits of CBD. The combined research found in my book suggests that choosing a hemp product with the entourage effect is a better option than choosing pure CBD or pure THC.

Luckily, there are new vape products coming to market that provide the entourage effect. My wife had a migraine aura this week—a visual disturbance that signals a migraine is coming—and immediately used a product called “dose pen” by the company Dosist to prevent a full-blown migraine. The dose pen comes with the entourage effect, is third-party tested, and even measures each dose and lets you know when to stop with a small vibration. I’ve tried a few CBD vapes that gave me headaches, but the dose pen made me feel great and I suspect it’s because of the entourage effect. (I have no affiliation with this product and can’t say if this product is best for migraines.)

You can also now purchase natural CBD-rich hemp in flower form, which may naturally contain the entourage effect. It looks just like marijuana, but it’s hemp and doesn’t contain the side effects of marijuana. You should also purchase a high-quality vaporizer to get your dose of CBD vapor instead of smoking the flower.

At this time, I don’t have a research-based recommendation for hemp strains or for vaporizer products. As CBD-migraine research progresses, there will be products and hemp strains that are specific to the needs of migraine sufferers.

5. Smoking CBD-Rich Hemp or Marijuana for Migraine Relief

The inhalation method discussed in this article is primarily for CBD vapor, but we can’t review vaping without the contrast of smoking cannabis. People smoke CBD-rich hemp and CBD-rich marijuana for medicinal benefits. Both hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis plant, but hemp is low in THC and will not get you high. The smoke from any type of cannabis is a bad idea for migraine sufferers.

Cannabis smoke contains tar and carcinogens that are linked to the same respiratory problems that are found among tobacco smokers. Some research even suggests that cannabis smoke is worse than tobacco smoke for your lungs.[6] Other studies suggest that there is no link between smoking cannabis and lung cancer, but respiratory issues can still come up.[7] [8]

Your brain needs oxygen to be happy. People that have constricted and inflamed lungs from smoking cigarettes, bronchitis, or asthma are significantly more likely to suffer migraines.[9] [10] [11] While low oxygen levels in the brain may play a part in the detonation of a migraine, there are many reasons why inflaming your airway is bad news for migraines.[12] [13] I’ll give you the biggest one: oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is connected to smoking and to nearly all migraine triggers, so you want to avoid it. CBD is an antioxidant and may reduce migraines by controlling oxidative stress. You’re basically limiting CBD’s antioxidant capability to fight migraines if you smoke and increase oxidative stress in the lungs.

Will smoking cannabis increase migraine frequency? Probably not. One study found that migraine sufferers had a significant reduction in migraines after smoking chronic amounts of marijuana. [14] If you occasionally smoke cannabis, it will probably not harm you or increase your migraines, and it may even reduce your migraine frequency. The argument here is that smoke produces tar and carcinogens and that there are healthier ways to consume cannabis, hemp, or CBD for migraine prevention and relief.

CBD vapor is a much healthier choice than CBD from smoke.

4. Avoid Artificial CBD Vapes

Do you remember “popcorn lungs” from the early 2000s? Of course not, you were either too young or don’t remember because that was almost 20 years ago (and oh my gosh we’re getting old). Workers in microwaveable popcorn factories developed an inflammatory problem in the lungs called bronchiolitis, which was nicknamed “popcorn lungs.” The inflammation was from an artificial flavoring called diacetyl.

Harvard researchers recently tested the chemicals used for flavoring e-cigarettes and found that 75 percent of products on the market contain diacetyl.[15] Inflammation in the lungs is not good for migraine sufferers, and diacetyl is just one example of hundreds of artificial flavors that you don’t want in your CBD vapor. Artificial flavors are top migraine triggers, and you want to avoid them.

The occasional use of a flavored CBD vapor is not comparable to the chronic exposure of chemicals that popcorn factory workers face, but the research exposes a possible risk to vape juice. Consider the avoidance of CBD vape juice with flavoring, even if you like the taste of cotton candy, Skittles or blue dragon something or other.

3. Hot Vapes May Trigger Migraines

 Some of the most common ingredients in vape juice, such as vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol, are a potential problem for migraine sufferers. These common and seemingly healthy ingredients transform into the migraine triggers formaldehyde and acetaldehyde when they are overheated.

Acetaldehyde is a migraine trigger found in alcohol. Research shows migraine sufferers and people with Asian flush syndrome are genetically more likely to have a toxic reaction to acetaldehyde, which may also be responsible for the headaches that come from alcohol-induced hangovers.[16] Formaldehyde is a migraine trigger, which is associated with cheap alcohol. Formaldehyde is also a byproduct of the potent migraine trigger aspartame.[17]

A recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology found multiple harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, in electronic cigarette vapor.[18] However, the study found that expensive “double-coil vaporizers” that produce low levels of heat only emitted a fraction of the toxins that cheaper “single-coil vaporizers” emitted. The study suggests that high-quality vaporizers that produce lower levels of heat should be used instead of cheap single-coil vaporizers, but all electronic cigarettes may be harmful to some degree.

Will small amounts of acetaldehyde and formaldehyde harm you or trigger migraines? Probably not. The CBD should counteract the negative effects. The marijuana study mentioned earlier showed a decrease in migraine frequency when people smoked marijuana, which is far more dangerous than vapor. A study on cigarettes and migraine found that cigarette smoke was only associated with migraine when patients smoked more than five cigarettes per day.[19] Occasionally vaping CBD products will probably not harm you, but there are risks to vaping and you will want to consider those risks before vaping on a regular basis.

The above health concerns, as well as a number of potentially harmful ingredients in vape juice, suggest that you should only use CBD vape for immediate migraine relief and not as a daily migraine preventive.

2. Don’t Go Cheap

Vaping CBD comes with risks and the risk goes up when you purchase a cheap product from a disreputable manufacturer. We previously discussed cheap vaporizers that overheat vape juice and produce migraine triggers that are potentially toxic. There are also many vape products with artificial additives that are a health concern. But my biggest concern is that you are more likely to purchase a fake CBD product than a real one.

In 2017, the FDA tested CBD products and found that only 2 out of 24 contained the amount of CBD they claimed, while others contained high levels of THC or substances not on the label. [20]  Another study published in the journal JAMA tested 84 different CBD products and also found that the majority of products were mislabeled.[21] Fake or inaccurate CBD products is one of the largest issues migraine sufferers face while attempting to find relief from CBD, which I elaborate on in this article.

1. CBD Vape: Risk Versus Reward

According to the research conducted so far, e-cigarette vapor is safer than cigarette smoke. One study found that depending on the product and its ingredients, e-cigarettes produced 9 to 450 times fewer toxins than cigarette smoke.[22] Does this make vape products healthy? No.

Migraine medications are about cost versus benefit. For example, aspirin deteriorates the lining of your gut; it literally puts holes in your gut.[23] Other migraine medications, such as triptans, have stronger side effects. However, migraine comes with its own risks and is associated with numerous conditions. Plus, migraines are painful and debilitating.

If Excedrin Migraine or triptans work to prevent a few migraines a year and they help you keep your job and maintain your life, they may be worth it. However, if you end up using too many triptans, it could raise oxidative stress levels and actually increase your migraine frequency. [24] [25] Overusing strong medications is not worth it because it may end up hurting you. It’s risk versus reward. Is the treatment helping you or hurting you?

I’m an overly cautious person. The research that I cited cautions that the chronic use of some vaporizers may be bad for your health. However, CBD itself may outweigh those vapor risks and reduce your migraine frequency and improve your health. CBD vapor may be safer than prescription migraine medication and may even help when medications fail, but we need more research to know for sure.

For all of the above reasons and until we have further research, you may want to limit CBD vapor as an acute migraine treatment and only use it occasionally in an attempt to abort or relieve migraines. For daily migraine prevention, the sublingual method of CBD absorption is a healthier choice for multiple reasons, which I will write about soon or you can check out my new book Hemp for Migraine.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6250760

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29111112

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6250760

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21307846

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085542/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2516340/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5072387/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16832000

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3451643/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17300360

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783079/

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30134739

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5500293/

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26749285

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4892929/

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274580/

[17] https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/579335

[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27461870

[19] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3451643/

[20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28169144

[21] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29114823

[22] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4154473/

[23] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3086018/

[24] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241421/

[25] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26129705

Author: Jeremy Orozco

Jeremy Orozco is a former firefighter turned migraine expert, author, and co-founder of MigraineKey.com. He's the author of Hemp for Migraine and The 3-Day Headache "Cure". You can find Jeremy here at MigraineKey.com and on Facebook. (See Jeremy's full bio.) // MigraineKey.com is dedicated to eliminating headaches and migraines. Forever. Share this post to help headache and migraine sufferers.

This is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Read the disclaimer.

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