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 and daytime 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 THC content — levels of THC dictate the plant’s total psychoactive capabilities. The more THC a strain of cannabis contains, the more powerful and psychoactive its effects will be. Experienced cannabis users tend to gravitate toward high-THC strains, and new cannabis users usually have more positive 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. Diverse cannabinoid content, such as a product with CBD, CBN, and THC may reduce the psychoactive impact without sacrificing the benefits of THC.*
The only way to know for sure how Sativa will impact you is to try a small milligram amount for yourself. These are commonly reported benefits and effects that many people experience when they use Cannabis sativa, without abusing the substance.
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, creative, euphoric, and productive.*
Sativa strains are heavily stimulating to the endocannabinoid system. THC stimulates the CB1 receptors in the brain, which may include energizing, feel-good energy.*
Part of this energy support may also come from the terpenes in Sativa cannabis. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that occur in natural botanicals, fruits and herbs — the 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
People tend to use Sativa as a pick-me-up when they need a positive emotional boost or a creative edge.*
A THC Sativa experience can cause synaptic plasticity, meaning the interaction in the brain can cause different neural pathways to arise. Because of this, many people use Sativa when engaging in their preferred creative outlets.
A creative outlet paired with a smart serving of Sativa can enhance emotional wellbeing — allowing users an expressive state to work through their feelings and inspire positivity.
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 may support relaxation, but it's cerebral effects are better suited for a productive day.*
There are many ways to ingest a Sativa strain. People commonly smoke cannabis flower or vape cannabis extract, but if you’re insteaded in consuming your cannabinoids with wellness in mind — smoking or vaping might feel counterintuitive. Other methods, like Sunmed's long-lasting live resin gummies, are equally as effective at delivering cannabinoids.*
Beyond Sativa Water Soluble drops allow you to add Cannabis sativa extract into an easy drink to sip. Water-soluble cannabinoids are able to get to work faster because of its high bioavailability.*
Beyond 2:1 Sativa Live Resin Gummies are a great choice for people who want an easy, discreet, and long-lasting Cannabis sativa product. These gummies contain a 2:1 ratio of CBD to THC, which makes for a gentle yet uplifting experience. CBD can lower the intensity of Sativa’s psychoactive effects, creating more of a gentle wave of cerebral stimulation rather than an immediate, uncomfortable burst.* Gummies are a great place to start for people who are new to using cannabinoids as part of their wellness routine. Try taking just a half a gummy to start, and see how you feel!
The bottom line
Cannabis sativa may be the best choice for people who want to enjoy a functional, daytime experience with cannabis. Just be sure to take it slow to see how the strain effects you.
Sunmed's live resin sativa gummies are formulated for people who want to incorporate subtle, gentle benefits of Cannabis sativa into their daily routine for relief from tension, focus, creativity, productability, or overall wellbeing.*
Sunmed’s comprehensive wellness collection of third-party tested products are designed to address a wide variety of wellness concerns, from sleep to relaxation to everyday relief. We have products for every part of your daily routine and every step of your journey towards natural, plant-derived well-being.