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  • Drew Herb Lesser

Medical Cannabis for Migraines - What does the research say about THC : CBD combinations?

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Medical Cannabis for Migraines - What does the research say about THC : CBD combinations?
Medical Cannabis for Migraines

Migraines can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, often on one side of the head and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can last for hours up to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.

Research indicates that the combination of CBD and THC can offer powerful pain relief for migraine sufferers. According to the latest research, getting the correct dosage of CBD and THC hold the key to effectively treating debilitating migraines.

Standard migraine treatments include triptans, which stop migraines but doesn't prevent them, and over-the-counter pain relief medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

The cannabinoids CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol) may offer similar relief but with fewer side effects, and for many a more effective treatment than other prescription medications. CBD and THC work together to improve sleep, reduce pain, and potentially reduce the frequency of migraines. Why do we get Migraines?

Some headaches are a symptom of migraines, but not all migraines come with head pain. Unlike headaches which may originate from tension in the jaw, a pinched nerve in the neck, or sinus buildup, migraines originate in the brain. Similar to cluster headaches, migraines come from overactivity in part of the brain.

The reason migraines happen is subjectively related to the individual. The causes range from hormonal changes during menstruation, a change in alcohol consumption, insufficient sleep, low barometric pressure, or any number of reasons.

There is no known reason why certain individuals get migraines. As a result, people with chronic or episodic migraines often don’t find treatments that work well for them. The effects of migraines can be catastrophic leading to an array of other symptoms including:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Dizziness

  • Light sensitivity

  • Sound sensitivity

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Inability to sleep

For people who deal with this affliction, the effects can lead to other health issues, as a result of insomnia and poor diet and lack of exercise.

For people who cannot tolerate the side effects of triptans or don’t find them effective, using CBD and THC combinations can be a game changer. CBD and THC are both powerful cannabinoids that can reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body, including the brain.

Clinical trials and retrospective studies have proven the effectiveness of CBD and THC (together and separate) in treating migraines [1]. The endocannabinoid system made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors, which activate the body’s response to stress, its dopamine levels, immune system function, and more. CBD interacts with the CB2 receptor while THC interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, stimulating both to prevent activation of the receptors. When those receptors are activated, the pain begins. But if cannabinoids reach the receptors first, the pain can be lowered, the immune system can remain strong, and dopamine can remain in the body.

Similar to triptans, CBD and THC are agonists to the 5-HT receptors. When these receptors are inhibited, the nerves don’t receive the message of pain. Activating the 5-HT receptors may work to prevent future migraines, too. Some studies also show promise that CBD and THC may reduce the frequency of migraines overall, but more research is needed. [2,6].

The best CBD:THC ratio for migraines is 1:3, with one part CBD to three parts THC.

Most migraine sufferers tend to choose very high doses of CBD and THC for pain relief, with 200 mg of cannabinoids total in accordance with the studies.

Although there aren’t specific ratios for migraines, THC works best for pain when taken in very high doses.

While CBD works to calm the nervous system and lower inflammation, THC helps to increase appetite, reduce pain, and reduce insomnia.

Other Migraine Symptom Remedies

Because the reason for migraines is unknown, they can be tough to treat. Here are a few other remedies for migraine symptoms you can try at home.

Magnesium is a natural supplement, a salt with the formula MgSO₄, and comes in the form of a pill or capsule or magnesium salt flakes which can be administered through a bathing, whereby minerals in the water are absorbed into the body transdermally. As a result, blood magnesium levels are replenished directly via the skin, helping to relax muscles, reduce cramping and spasms, restore red blood cells and reduce inflammation.

Use Cold Therapy - research also support that putting a cold compress on your neck during a migraine [7]. Applying a very cold / frozen compress to the back of your neck at the start of a migraine may cool the blood passing through the carotid arteries, resulting in lowered inflammation. Although it doesn’t completely abort or stop migraines, it offers significant relief to many patients.


  • Research has identified that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain resulting the promotion of serotonin and anxiolytic responses and significant anti inflammatory effects.

  • It’s important to take CBD and THC together for effective migraine treatment.

  • The best CBD:THC ratio for migraines is a 1:3 ratio, with one part CBD to three parts THC.

  • Use Magnesium baths and or Cold Therapy as part of a holistic treatment.

  • CBD products might be able to offer relief for many people who suffer from muscle related pains, all without causing drug intoxication and dependence and other unpleasant side effects. There is anecdotal evidence to support the many benefits of CBD and Medical Cannabis as a treatment protocol for muscle inflammation.


  1. Argueta, D. A., Ventura, C. M., Kiven, S., Sagi, V., & Gupta, K. (2020). A Balanced Approach for Cannabidiol Use in Chronic Pain. Frontiers in pharmacology, 11, 561.

  2. Aviram, J., Vysotski, Y., Berman, P., Lewitus, G. M., Eisenberg, E., & Meiri, D. (2020). Migraine frequency decrease following prolonged medical cannabis treatment: a cross-sectional study. Brain sciences, 10(6), 360.

  3. Lochte, B. C., Beletsky, A., Samuel, N. K., & Grant, I. (2017). The Use of Cannabis for Headache Disorders. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 61–71.

  4. Long, R., Zhu, Y., & Zhou, S. (2019). Therapeutic role of melatonin in migraine prophylaxis: a systematic review. Medicine, 98(3).

  5. Poudel, S., Quinonez, J., Choudhari, J., Au, Z. T., Paesani, S., Thiess, A. K., … & Michel, J. (2021). Medical Cannabis, Headaches, and Migraines: A Review of the Current Literature. Cureus, 13(8).

  6. Rhyne, D. N., Anderson, S. L., Gedde, M., & Borgelt, L. M. (2016). Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population. Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy, 36(5), 505–510.

  7. Sprouse-Blum, A. S., Gabriel, A. K., Brown, J. P., & Yee, M. H. (2013). Randomized controlled trial: targeted neck cooling in the treatment of the migraine patient. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, 72(7), 237.


This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and is provided for educational purposes only. It should not be relied on as health or personal advice. The author is NOT a Doctor. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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