September 28, 2021 6 min read

Some people claim to experience what they call a "rebound headache" from Delta-8-THC, while others claim that Delta-8 helps cure their headache symptoms. So what's the deal? Does Delta-8 cause headaches? And if so, can they be avoided?

In short, yes, headaches could be a side effect of Delta-8 on rare occasions, but they may be related to another underlying issue and not Delta-8 alone. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to hopefully avoid this uncommon side effect altogether.

Here's what we know:

Using Delta-8-THC for Headaches
Are Headaches a Side Effect of Delta-8-THC?
Why Could Delta-8 Cause a Headache?
Can You Avoid Headaches Caused by Delta-8-THC?
A Caution Against Severe Headaches
Conclusion: Can Delta-8 Cause Headaches?
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Headaches are a rare side effect that some people experience when using Delta-8.
  • A headache could be caused by dehydration, poor eating habits, or increased sensitivity to light and sound.
  • A severe headache should be taken seriously, and you should consult your doctor if you experience a migraine or other debilitating headache after using Delta-8.
  • Poor quality formulas can also cause a headache, so you should be careful to buy only high-quality, lab tested Delta-8-THC.

Using Delta-8-THC for Headaches

Before we can address whether Delta 8 causes headaches, we want to touch on why this is such a surprising potential side effect. Although Delta-8's therapeutic benefits are still being researched, many people claim that pain relief, including from headaches, is a primary benefit.

A diagram comparing the molecular structure of Delta-8 vs Delta 9

Delta-8-THC is similar to Delta-9 in structure, and it has a similar interaction in the body. It's not far-fetched to think that it may have many of the same benefits, although research has barely scratched the surface of Delta-8-THC's benefits for pain.

Still, one 2018 animal study showed Delta-8-THC’s interaction with the CB1 receptor (the central nervous system portion of the Endocannabinoid System) enabled it to mediate pain and inflammation.

In fact, Delta-8 was noted to be significantly effective in managing pain and inflammation due to corneal injuries. The authors concluded that Delta-8 has promising pain-relieving effects that may translate to human studies, but more research is needed.

The National Cancer Institute also recognizes Delta-8-THC as an “analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties," which implies their acknowledgement of Delta-8's pain-relieving effects.

So, with Delta-8's benefits in mind, is it possible for Delta-8 to cause headaches instead of cure them?

Are Headaches a Side Effect of Delta-8-THC?

Due to a gap in current research, we haven't really pinned down every single side effect of Delta-8-THC or the likelihood of their occurrence. Still, we know from anecdotal reports that Delta-8 may, in fact, cause headaches for some people. It's not a wild accusation since Delta-9 may also cause mild side effects for some people, like headaches, nausea, or anxiety. Still, this side effect is rare, and most of the existing Delta-8-THC research describes it as "well tolerated" by the study's participants.

Why Could Delta-8 Cause a Headache?

So, why could Delta-8-THC possibly cause headaches? It varies from person to person, but here are some possible reasons:

A bottle of water sitting on a table, the best way to stay properly hydrated while using delta-8.

Dehydration

Have you ever noticed that THC makes you thirsty? This phenomenon is jokingly referred to as "cotton mouth," but it's a very real side effect of THC use. It happens because THC increases the metabolism and the rate at which your body uses water, so you feel thirsty to signal you to drink more.

If you don't increase your water intake, or if you were already dehydrated to begin with, it's possible that Delta-8 could cause dehydration that causes a headache. It's important to stay hydrated all the time (even when not using THC products), which may help you avoid this side effect.

Hunger

As we mentioned, Delta-8 increases your metabolism. Not eating enough can definitely cause a headache, and these effects can be sped up when your metabolism is increased. If you haven't eaten enough prior to taking Delta-8-THC, it can definitely cause a headache.

Increased sensitivity

Delta-8's psychoactivity is milder than Delta-9's, but it still has similar characteristics. For most people, a THC-induced high causes increased sensitivity to light and sounds, which is why certain atmospheres can harbor a euphoric experience.

This increased sensitivity could cause a headache, especially in people who are already sensitive to light or sound. If you have impaired eyesight, it's especially important that you wear your glasses or contacts while using Delta-8 so that you aren't straining your eyes, which can definitely be a recipe for a headache.

Anxiety

Delta-8 is thought to be far less likely to cause anxiety than Delta-9, which is why it's often said to be a great option for beginners or for those who are sensitive to traditional THC products.

Still, it's possible that Delta-8 just isn't for everyone, and some people may still experience some anxiety while under the influence of THC. In some cases, anxiety manifests in physical ways, like an increased heart rate or a headache. If you notice a bit of anxiety alongside your headache, this may be the case.

Poor Quality Products

Hemp industry regulations are still pretty scattered, and while some states do have a more strenuous quality assurance program, others do not. It’s incredibly important that you buy Delta-8 from a trustworthy source.

Delta-8 products that are cut with synthetic cannabinoids are not only illegal, but they can be dangerous. Other ingredients, like various fillers and artificial flavors used to make cheap versions of Delta-8 products, may also cause a headache or other unwanted side effects.

Other Causes

We don't know everything there is to know about the Endocannabinoid System, but we do know that it is incredibly complex. It's primary purpose is to maintain homeostasis, or a state of balance within the body.

We know that Delta-8 binds with Endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and Central Nervous System. It's possible in some cases where the Endocannabinoid System is already in perfect balance that using cannabinoids can cause overregulation, which could result in mild side effects like a headache.

A selection of different types of Delta-8-THC products laid out on a table

Can You Avoid Headaches Caused by Delta-8-THC?

We'd first like to point out that headaches are not a common side effect of Delta-8-THC, and most people can use Delta-8 without any adverse effects at all. Still, if you do find yourself developing a headache after using Delta-8, there may be some steps you can take to prevent it from happening. If you want to give Delta-8 another go, implement these tips:

  • Make sure that you are properly hydrated before using Delta-8
  • Drink plenty of water after taking Delta-8, too.
  • Make sure you've gotten plenty of sleep and aren't overly tired
  • Reduce environmental stimulation, like bright lights or loud noises.
  • Wear your glasses or contacts, if applicable.
  • Make sure you've eaten a nutritious meal or snack before (or soon after) consuming Delta-8

A Caution Against Severe Headaches

While most of the side effects reported after Delta-8-THC use are mild, you should definitely take side effects seriously. If you experience a severe headache after using Delta-8-THC, like a migraine, or a headache that is debilitating, stop using Delta-8 immediately and talk to your doctor.

Often, a severe headache like this is not caused by Delta-8, but could be caused by an underlying issue. If you haven't already gotten a diagnosis for your severe headaches, it's important to get checked out to rule out any serious problems. If you want to try Delta-8 again in the future, get approval from your doctor first, and follow the steps we laid out above.

Conclusion: Can Delta-8 Cause a Headache?

While it's possible for Delta-8 to cause a headache, it's not a common side effect. Most people use Delta-8-THC with no adverse reactions at all. Staying hydrated, eating well, and avoiding overstimulation can help prevent a headache from happening. If you're worried about Delta-8-THC side effects, we suggest starting with small doses. Read "How Much Delta-8 Should I Take?" to learn more.

To find high-quality Delta-8 products, check out our  Elev8 Collection. You'll find Delta-8 edibles, tinctures, flower, and more that fit all potency and dosing needs.

Resources

  1. “The Cannabinoids Δ8THC, CBD, and HU-308 Act via Distinct Receptors to Reduce Corneal Pain and Inflammation” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812319/
  2. “NCI Thesaurus: Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol” https://ncit.nci.nih.gov/ncitbrowser/ConceptReport.jsp?dictionary=NCI_Thesaurus&ns=NCI_Thesaurus&code=C61312

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