What does sativa do to you? Effects, uses, and more

Learn about Cannabis sativa, including its effects, uses, and how it compares to indica.

Learn about Cannabis sativa, including its effects, uses, and how it compares to indica.
minute read

When it comes to cannabis products, the indica vs. sativa debate is common— but what exactly is sativa, and how does it make you feel? Let’s take a closer look. 

What is cannabis sativa?

Cannabis sativa is the official name of the sativa variety of the cannabis plant. It’s also the official name for hemp, which is simply Cannabis sativa bred to produce very small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The low THC content of hemp restrains its potential psychoactive effects, which allows farmers to legally grow hemp as an industrial crop.

The Cannabis sativa plant is native to Central Asia, where it was first used as a wellness remedy thousands of years ago. These native plants, called landrace strains, are still cultivated today. They’ve changed since they originated, as growers bred the plants to favor stronger traits and increase their yields. Thai, originated in Thailand, remains one of the most popular sativa landrace strains to this day. 

Cannabis sativa is characterized by its towering height. A Cannabis sativa plant can grow as tall as 20 feet under the right conditions. Its leaves and branches tend to stay close to its body. Cannabis sativa has long, thin leaves with pointed ends. They look very distinct from the short, stubby, broad leaves of the Cannabis indica plant.

Do sativa and indica come from the same plant?

Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa are the same plants, but their natural growing conditions caused adaptations that changed how they look. The native growing climates for Cannabis sativa favored plants that could grow tall and thin to obtain enough sunlight. 

The native growing climate for most indica landscape strains is the arid, mountainous desert. Most of the original indica strains found their roots in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which spans the northern border of Afghanistan. Indica plants adapted to be smaller and bushier to protect themselves from UV rays, regulate their temperature effectively, and retain scarce rainwater.

How does sativa differ from indica?

There are two types of experiences people report from cannabis. One is a “head high” or a cerebral high, while the other is often described as more of a body high. Most people describe the effects of sativa strains as a cerebral experience, and their minds feel stimulated and elevated.*

Indica is often described as more of a body high; many people find the effects of indica to be relaxing or sedating. They like to find a place to get comfortable and enjoy the effects of indica while engaging in sedentary activity, like reading or watching a movie. Indica is also commonly used to support better sleep.*

The difference is night and day—literally. People who use cannabis throughout the day commonly choose a sativa strain for the morning hours and an indica strain for the evening hours. There will always be exceptions to the rule depending on how a particular strain affects someone. There are daytime indica users and nighttime sativa users, although they’re in the minority.*

What are the effects of sativa?

Sativa strains are believed to support a specific set of effects, but they may not work the same for everyone. Most people find sativa strains to be energizing, euphoric, and focus-enhancing. Effects may vary from strain to strain because each strain’s cannabinoid and terpene profile is slightly different.*

The effects of sativa are also largely influenced by the strain’s THC content—levels of THC dictate the plant’s total psychoactive capabilities. The more THC a strain of cannabis contains, the more powerful its effects will be. Experienced cannabis users tend to gravitate toward high-THC strains, and new cannabis users usually have better experiences with low-THC strains.*

Different strains will vary in their cannabinoid content. Sativa strains high in cannabidiol (CBD) may have more modest effects, and CBD can also mitigate some of the effects of THC by preventing it from binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. This process may reduce the impact of psychoactive chemical compounds in cannabis without sacrificing the benefits of minor cannabinoids.*

The only way to know for sure how sativa will impact you is to try it for yourself. These are commonly reported benefits and effects that many people experience when they use Cannabis sativa. This is how most people describe their general experience with sativa strains:

Energy support

While the consensus among cannabis users is that indica strains make them sleepy, many people find that Cannabis sativa is a better option for daytime THC use. People who use sativa may find that they feel invigorated, euphoric, and able to check things off of their to-do list.* 

Sativa strains are heavily stimulating to the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids stimulate the receptors of the system to produce effects, which may include energized feelings.

Part of this energy support may come from the terpenes in cannabis. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that occur in naturethe compounds responsible for the wellness effects of aromatherapy. 

Some terpenes, like citrusy limonene, may help people feel energized. If the scent of orange juice gets you up and moving in the morning, limonene will likely have energy-boosting effects for you.*

May support emotional wellness

Sativa may support happy or euphoric feelings. People tend to use sativa as a pick-me-up when they need a positive emotional boost because the energizing effects of sativa also work to support emotional wellness. 

Since sativa may inspire creativity, many people use sativa when engaging in their preferred creative outlets. Creative outlets can help to enhance emotional wellness by giving people a place to work through their feelings or direct their attention towards something that inspires positivity. It's said that some sativa THC can make it a bit easier to get into this headspace.*

Terpenes may also have the ability to modulate mood through aromatherapy. When you inhale a scent, it stimulates your olfactory system. Your olfactory system is tethered to your limbic system, which regulates your emotion. Some terpenes, like those found in Cannabis sativa, can help to support uplifted feelings.*

Terpenes like myrcene, the most abundant terpene in cannabis, can have soothing effects. This terpene smells very warm and earthy, like cloves, thyme, eucalyptus, and bay leaves. Myrcene is one of the many important terpenes responsible for giving cannabis its distinct aroma and wellness attributes.*

May help with feelings of productivity

Artists, musicians, creative professionals, and creative hobbyists often turn to Cannabis sativa for a boost of productivity. They claim that sativa inspires their thought processes and allows them to think outside of the box. They may experiment with new concepts or techniques that improve their productivity.

Sativa strains are also used to improve focus. Some people say that Cannabis sativa allows them to narrow their concentration and attention to a single activity at a time, blocking out distractions that can make it difficult to accomplish their goals. 

When might sativa be the right choice?

Sativa is usually the right choice for daytime THC use. If your primary wellness goal is to enhance your energy and productivity with some added euphoria, choose a sativa strain with energizing terpenes to support its uplifting effects. Some people use sativa to support relief from physical or emotional tension that may act as an obstacle to productivity. 

Sativa is often the best option if your primary goal of using cannabis isn’t to relax heavily or to support sleep. Sativa can support relaxation, but its cerebral effects are better suited for mental relaxation than physical relaxation.*

There are many ways to use sativa. People commonly smoke cannabis flower or vape cannabis extract, but if you’re using cannabis for your wellnessthe idea of smoking or vaping might feel counterintuitive. Other methods can be equally as effective at delivering cannabinoids without the need to inhale cannabis.*

Beyond Sativa Water Soluble drops allow you to add liquid Cannabis sativa extract into food or drinks. Water-soluble cannabinoids are able to get to work faster because they’re easily absorbed into the soft tissue of the body. 

Cannabinoid edibles need to be digested with a source of fat in order to produce effects, which can increase the amount of time they take to produce effects. Water soluble drops are a better option for people who want immediate relief or faster benefits from Cannabis sativa.

Beyond Sativa 2:1 Live Resin Gummies are a great choice for people who want to utilize Cannabis sativa for their general wellness. These gummies contain a 2:1 ratio of CBD to THC, which makes for a mellow yet uplifting experience. CBD can lower the intensity of sativa’s energizing effects, creating more of a gentle wave of energy than a breakthrough burst.* Gummies are a great place to start for people who are new to using cannabinoids as part of their wellness routine.

The bottom line

Cannabis sativa may be the best choice for people who want to enjoy a functional, daytime experience with cannabis. Cannabis sativa with low amounts of THC, like our live resin sativa gummies, is designed for people who want to incorporate subtle, gentle benefits of Cannabis sativa into their daily routine.*

Cannabis affects everyone differently. While many people report feeling or experiencing similar things when using Cannabis sativa, the experience is still subjective. The only way to know for sure if Cannabis sativa provides the benefits you’re looking for is through firsthand experience. Just be sure to take it slow to see how the strain or products effects you. 

Sunmed’s custom-curated cannabinoid wellness products are designed to address a wide variety of wellness concerns. Shop the full collection here


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