The Exploration of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Therapies for Migraine

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2023 Sep;27(9):339-350. doi: 10.1007/s11916-023-01144-z. Epub 2023 Jul 29.


Purpose of review: There is increasing interest in the use of cannabis and cannabinoid therapies (CCT) by the general population and among people with headache disorders, which results in a need for healthcare professionals to be well versed with the efficacy and safety data. In this manuscript, we review cannabis and cannabinoid terminology, the endocannabinoid system and its role in the central nervous system (CNS), the data on efficacy, safety, tolerability, and potential pitfalls associated with use in people with migraine and headache disorders. We also propose possible mechanisms of action in headache disorders and debunk commonly held myths about its use.

Recent findings: Preliminary studies show that CCT have evidence for the management of migraine. While this evidence exists, further randomized, controlled studies are needed to better support its clinical use. CCT can be considered an integrative treatment added to mainstream medicine for people with migraine who are refractory to treatment and/or exhibit disability and/or interest in trying these therapies. Further studies are warranted to specify appropriate formulation, dosage, and indication(s). Although not included in guidelines or the AHS 2021 Consensus Statement on migraine therapies, with the legalization of CCT for medical or unrestricted use across the USA, recent systematic reviews highlighting the preliminary evidence for its use in migraine, it is vital for clinicians to be well versed in the efficacy, safety, and clinical considerations for their use. This review provides information which can help people with migraine and clinicians who care for them make mutual, well-informed decisions on the use of cannabis and cannabinoid therapies for migraine based on the existing data.

Keywords: CBD; Cannabidiol; Cannabinoids; Migraine; THC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Cannabinoids* / therapeutic use
  • Cannabis*
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana* / therapeutic use
  • Midazolam / therapeutic use
  • Migraine Disorders* / drug therapy


  • Cannabinoids
  • Midazolam
  • Medical Marijuana
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists