Can Indica Help With Migraines? What You Need to Know

Migraines are a neurological condition that manifests through sudden, severe headaches, fatigue, and other chronic symptoms. Various factors can trigger migraines, including stress, lack of sleep, specific dietary items, and sensory stimuli. For those who experience frequent and severe attacks, the quality of life can seriously deteriorate. This condition affects over 6 million people in the UK alone.

Symptoms of Migraines

Although the exact cause of migraines remains unconfirmed, many experts suspect triggers such as stress, illness, sensory stimuli, and environmental factors. A migraine episode can lead to visual distortions and, often, nausea. The symptoms can be both unpredictable and debilitating.

Approximately 71% of individuals with migraines report adverse effects on their mental health. The struggle with persistent pain, fatigue, and anxiety can be emotionally draining. Those with migraines are also at a higher risk of developing depression. Many healthcare professionals advocate for talk therapy and mindfulness techniques like meditation and yoga as useful means for managing both physical and mental health concerns.

Importance of Finding an Effective Treatment

Conventional pain management techniques don’t always provide relief for everyone suffering from migraines. That’s where medical cannabis, particularly indica strains, comes into play. They offer a promising alternative for those who have tried mainstream healthcare options with limited success. Indica strains are known for their effective anti-pain, anti-nausea, and anti-inflammatory properties. While Sativa and hybrid strains may alleviate some symptoms, Indica strains are particularly adept at tackling the intense pain and anxiety associated with migraines.

What Is Indica?

The Cannabis sativa plant has three primary species: sativa, indica, and ruderalis. While sativa strains generally produce a more energetic and social effect, indica strains are quite the opposite. Originating in Afghanistan, indica strains are higher in CBD and provide a calming, sedating effect. These strains are often used for pain management and inflammation reduction. Research studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that indica strains are more efficient at reducing migraine-associated pain, inflammation, and anxiety.

Definition of Indica

Indica is one of the main subtypes of the Cannabis sativa plant. Indica plants are generally shorter, bushier, and have broader leaves compared to sativa plants. Although traditionally classified into two categories, indica and sativa, the genetic variations within these plants are much more complex. Factors such as soil, climate, agricultural methods, and breeding have contributed to a rich diversity in terpene, cannabinoid, and flavonoid profiles.

Properties of Indica

Indica strains typically have higher levels of CBD and specific terpenes renowned for their anti-pain and anti-nausea effects. For example, the terpene myrcene is abundant in many indica strains and is responsible for a peppery flavour and aroma. The unique blend of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds in indica strains offers a set of benefits and potential side effects worth considering.

How Indica Affects the Body

Indica strains have a soothing impact on both mind and body. Their high CBD content supports overall wellness by offering anti-anxiety, anti-pain, and anti-inflammatory benefits. As the body relaxes and recovers, the immune system gets a chance to recharge.

Can Indica Help With Migraines?

Indica strains have been shown to relieve migraine-induced tension and pain. Migraines can cause whole-body tension and rigid muscles. Indica strains are often utilised for muscle relaxation and anxiety relief, thereby reducing the pain, fatigue, and stress linked to migraines. A 2022 study even found that medical cannabis effectively reduced migraines, nausea, and their frequency. Moreover, numerous studies indicate that indica strains can enhance both the duration and quality of sleep.

How Indica Can Help with Migraines

Regular doses of CBD, which is abundant in indica strains, can potentially minimise or even prevent migraine attacks. There’s also evidence to suggest that moderate and regular cannabis consumption may promote better sleep, thereby helping prevent migraine episodes.

Pain Relief Properties of Indica

Indica strains are generally richer in CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes with anti-pain properties. These strains not only help prevent migraines but also facilitate smoother recovery following a migraine episode.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Indica

CBD-rich indica strains are noted for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Many individuals with chronic pain, muscle tension, and soreness use CBD products to manage inflammation.

Effects of Indica on Migraines

Indica strains offer pain relief and mental tranquillity. They can effectively alleviate the symptoms of migraines, and are also helpful for those who suffer from anxiety.

Review of Research Studies on Indica and Migraines

A UK-based study found that inhaled cannabis effectively mitigated pain and anxiety in treatment-resistant populations. Participants reported significant improvements in pain scores and overall quality of life, along with benefits like improved mood and fewer sleep disturbances.

Discussion of Indica’s Effectiveness in Treating Migraines

Indica strains not only provide pain relief but also promote muscle recovery and overall body relaxation. They can even help relax blood vessels, thereby contributing to more efficient circulation and reducing discomfort during migraines.

Potential Side Effects of Using Indica for Migraines

While Indica strains are known for their ‘couchlock’ effect, making users feel drowsy and sedated, the experience can vary from person to person. Therefore, it’s best to use indica strains in a comfortable setting, preferably in the evening before bedtime.

How to Use Indica for Migraines

In the UK, medical cannabis is available in various forms such as vape cartridges, edibles, tinctures, and topical creams. If inhaled, the effects usually manifest within 10-20 minutes. Some methods may prove more effective in combating migraine pain than others.

Some modes of delivery may be more effective in reducing migraine pain than others. A study found that medical cannabis concentrates were more effective than flowers for managing migraine and headache pain. This study showed that cannabis concentrates were associated with larger reductions in headaches.

Of course, many factors can impact the bioavailability of an Indica strain. The height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and current health status influence how an indica interacts with a person’s system. 

When taking edibles, it is always critical to start with the manufacturer’s recommended amount. Also, consult your prescribing physician regarding how much you should start with, how often and the plan to increase dose amounts. When taking an edible, you should wait at least 90 minutes before determining the effects on your coordination and perception. Some people sense the effects as soon as an hour after consuming an edible, but bioavailability or how quickly humans absorb cannabinoids differs vastly from person to person.

Dosage Guidelines

For acute migraines, a dose of 2-3.5 mg is generally considered safe. You can also take CBD regularly as a preventative measure. Start with a low dose and gradually increase the amount over several days or a week.

Precautions and Considerations

Always consult your prescribing physician about dosage and strain selection. Mention any medications you’re currently taking and ask for recommended strains.

Alternatives to Indica

Sativa and sativa-dominant strains are also beneficial for migraine sufferers. These strains are more energising and can be particularly useful for those drained by chronic pain.


This article has explored the characteristics of indica strains and their effectiveness in treating migraine symptoms. The insights offered should help you decide which indica strains and types of products might suit you best for managing your migraine disorder.