Are Sativa Strains Good for Migraines? Exploring Sativa Strains for Migraine Management

Migraines are a neurological condition affecting roughly 6 million people in the UK. It’s characterised by sudden and extreme headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms. This chronic condition can happen daily or every so often. Triggers include stress, lack of sleep, dietary items, and sensory stimuli. It can distort vision and make a person feel nauseous. Its symptoms can be unpredictable and debilitating. Migraine disorder can have a significant negative impact on patients’ quality of life.

A common symptom of a migraine attack is intense pain on one side of the head. Some migraine patients are extremely sensitive to lights or scents, and these sensations can be enough to spark a severe attack.

Migraines affect about one in seven people in the UK, and this neurological condition affects more women than men.

What is a Sativa Strain?

Sativa strians and sativa-dominant hybrids tend to have an energising effect. Although there is great variation, sativas tend to cause a cerebral high, whereas indicas produce a body high or calming and sedating effect.

What Happens When You Consume a Sativa Product?

You might feel more chatty and energetic. If you’re feeling sluggish, a sativa might recharge your energy levels and help you feel more motivated and action-oriented.

Migraine Research

Current migraine research is exploring all the various forms of migraine headache activity, including cluster headaches and facial pain. Research is just beginning to shed light on this fascinating neurological condition.

“A team of researchers at UC San Diego Health are conducting the first randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to study cannabis as a migraine treatment.” Source

What Causes Migraines?

Although there are many beliefs about what causes migraines, the main theories include genetic, environmental, stress, hormonal changes, and dietary factors. It’s a complicated condition with no easy standard treatment plan to suit all migraine patients.

Genetic Factors

Some studies have suggested that some people have a hereditary predisposition, so scientists focus on identifying patterns associated with genetic factors.

Environmental Triggers

Environmental stimuli such as lighting, sound, and aroma can trigger migraines. No two migraine sufferers will have the same response to environmental factors.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions can compound migraines. For example, fibromyalgia patients can experience a vicious cycle of disrupted sleep due to chronic pain, which in turn makes them more likely to develop a migraine. The migraine pain can then interfere with restorative sleep, and the migraine patient never feels truly rested.

What is Sativa?

Sativa is one of the main categories of cannabis plant classifications. Sativa plants are known for having specific plant structure features such as thinner, longer leaves compared to indica leaves. The sativa plant generally grows taller and leaner than many indica plants, but some strains may look like some indica plants.

Cannabis Classification in the UK

Unless prescribed by a doctor through services offered by clinics like Releaf, Sativa cannabis is considered illegal to possess in the UK if THC potency is over .2%. Legal medical cannabis products can be made from sativa plants as long as they are under the legal potency maximum limit.

Chemical Composition of Sativa

Sativa strains are known for their sweet aromas and tastes, and they commonly contain terpenes such as alpha-pinene, limonene, myrcene, and terpinolene. These terpenes are associated with pain reduction and inflammation decreases.

Therapeutic Benefits

Sativa strains are good for increasing energy. They can help a person feel uplifted and focused, so they are helpful for some people who need a boost or motivation to start a project.

Is Sativa Good for Migraines?

Sativa and sativa-dominant strains are good for migraines because they tend to have terpene profiles with properties that counter migraine symptoms. For example, a sativa-dominant hybrid like Blue Dream is high in the terpene myrcene. Myrcene is known for being effective at fighting pain.

“Super Boof packs plenty of myrcene — a preferred terpene among medical marijuana patients looking to treat migraine headache symptoms.” Source

How Does Sativa Help with Migraines?

Sativa strains contain terpenes and other compounds that effectively provide anti-inflammatory and anti-pain properties. One study found that sativa strains are especially effective at promoting the entourage effect.

“A study published in 2016 shows that 12% of the study population reported significant relief. But, they were all treated with different strains of cannabis.” Source

Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) involves receptors, enzymes, and cells in organs throughout the human body. Endocannabinoids are produced in the body. The ECS is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors, and it uses chemical signalling to communicate information that facilitates immune and stress responses.

Sativa and Pain Management

A case series using patients from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry found an association between the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain and improvements in pain and health-related quality of life outcomes.

Sativa and Inflammation Reduction

Sativa strains with specific terpene profiles including linalool and humulene are especially good for inflammation reduction.

Research Studies on Sativa and Migraines

Here are the highlights of key studies that shed light on medical cannabis sativa for migraine management.

  1. One study found that medical cannabis reduced the number of monthly migraine headaches patients were experiencing from 10.4 at the start of the study to 4.6 at follow-up appointments.

  2. Another study found that most users preferred hybrid strains for dealing with migraine pain.

  3. This Study found that specific strains and terpenes are more effective at relieving migraine. The study highlighted how terpenes β-caryophyllene and β-myrcene may effectively reduce pain and inflammation.

  4. This Study found that medical cannabis was effective in reducing nausea for migraine patients after six months of use. Migraines were also reduced in frequency and duration by medical cannabis.

Sativa vs. Other Treatment Options for Migraines

Other conventional and alternative treatment options for migraines involve the following strategies:

  • Taking over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol and aspirin helps many patients deal with migraine pain.

  • Triptans are specific painkillers that cause the blood vessels to narrow in an effort to counter the widening of vessels caused by migraines.

  • Acupuncture helps some patients find pain relief.

Prescription Medications

Sativa can have interactions with certain prescription medications, so it’s critical to discuss your current medications with your prescribing doctor. They may recommend a sativa-leaning hybrid or indica with higher levels of CBD for your needs. Strains like Charlotte’s Web and Harlequin are some CBD-high strains.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications such as allergy medication, cold medication, and painkillers can intensify any sensations caused by the sativa strain. Document what medications, amounts, and times you take any other medications or supplements in case there is an adverse event.

Lifestyle Changes

Changes in diet, climate, and sleep are key triggers for migraines, so it’s best to maintain some restorative time and rest during times of great change and stress. Consistent sleep, gentle exercise, and a healthy diet are important.

Precautions and Side Effects of Sativa

Some precautions about using sativa include taking small doses until you know how the strain affects you. Some sativas are known to trigger anxiety, so those with anxiety may want to stick with hybrid strains or indicas.

Potential Side Effects

There is always the risk of an adverse reaction with any plant medicine, but negative side effects are usually minimal when they happen. They usually include nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, and drowsiness. If you have a moderate to severe reaction, always seek medical attention to avoid danger. It’s better to be cautious than to wait too long in the event of a critical reaction.

Interactions with Other Medications

It’s possible that sativa strains can interact adversely with other medications or substances, so make sure you consult your general physician about your sativa and other medication use.

Legal Status of Sativa

Sativa strains are legal as long as they are under the .2% THC potency limit set by UK regulatory law.


Now that you know better how sativa strains might alleviate migraine suffering, you can decide which strains might work best for you. If you’re unsure about trying a sativa, you can always start with a Sativa-leaning strain to ensure you have the most appropriate product formulation for addressing your symptoms.