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Topicals for Headache & Migraine

Written by Caleb Summeril

Everyone has had a headache at one point or another. Whether it be simple tension and pain or a severe and debilitating migraine, headaches are a common affliction that can be difficult at times to shake. Everyday treatments in the form of over-the-counter medications or a hot washcloth on the forehead have been mainstays for many, while newer treatments and methods of relief have been popping up in recent years. Of these, more and more people are using cannabis for its pain-relieving potential. Within the realm of cannabis offerings, topical products may be able to offer quick assistance.

There is a long history of using cannabis for headache and migraine, going back thousands of years. One ancient record even states that cannabis should be used to “bind the temples,” indicating its healing potential.[1] This account may in fact describe cannabis being used as a topical (in some way) for headaches.

Although some mechanisms have been uncovered, the underlying cause of headaches is not fully understood.[2] However, cannabinoids have shown potential for relief in many headache sufferers and topicals specifically may offer direct and localized treatment of the affected area. While this might not prove effect on all patients or for all types of headaches, a simple rub of a lotion, balm, or salve on the temples, forehead, or neck may be just the trick for common headaches.

While there are plenty of anecdotal accounts and observational studies suggesting that many people are using cannabinoids to successfully treat their headaches, we need to wait for clinical trials to see if this all holds up. Luckily, there are a few underway.

And although the science behind how cannabis and topical cannabis products may be able to help with headaches need further study, if you are one of the millions of people who experience a headache, frequently or every once in a while, it might be worth trying out a topical product the next time your head is throbbing.

Of course, always talk to your doctor before getting started to make sure that cannabis topical does not interact with any other medications you take for headache/migraine or other conditions.

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  1. Russo E. Hemp for headache: An in-depth historical and scientific review of cannabis in migraine treatment. J Cannabis Ther. 2001;1:21-92.
  2. Lochte BC, et al. The use of cannabis for headache disorders. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):61-71.

About the author

Caleb Summeril

Caleb Summeril writes creative copy, stories and songs from the mountains of Colorado. When not working on words, he can be found on global gallivants which fuel future endeavors. Learn more about his writing services at

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