As the hybrid market expands, many weed scientists argue the “indica vs. sativa” system is outdated. However, despite dozens of calls for reform, cultivators and cannasseurs can’t help separating buds into one of these traditional categories. Indeed, many consumers claim sativa benefits are noticeably different from standard indica effects.
Smoking a sativa too soon may provoke paranoia, but experienced tokers might get the best results from a sativa-forward cultivar. Customers should consider the typical effects of sativas before choosing their next batch of nugs.
How Are Sativa Strains Different From Indicas?
Botanists primarily created the “indica” subcategory due to growing patterns, not mental effects. Around the 18th century, scientists discovered select cannabis cultivars from India were shorter and bushier than sativa plants—hence the term “indica.”
Today, cannabis growers use the “indica vs. sativa” distinction to plan their cultivation strategy. Indicas take less time to grow, and they tend to reach a height of no more than six feet. By contrast, sativas can take upwards of six months to mature and could grow as tall as 20 feet.
While these subspecies seem to have unique growing patterns, do they produce different effects? Well, there’s not a ton of empirical evidence on the physiological effects associated with sativas and indicas. However, throughout the decades, many cannabis fans swear sativa benefits are distinct from indica effects.
The prevailing theory is that sativas provoke an uplifting “euphoric” high, while indicas have soothing qualities. Supposedly, sativa strains have more THC and less CBD than indica strains, which may partially account for these effects. Some people also suggest indicas have higher traces of the terpene myrcene, which can induce sedation.
To this day, if a strain has a higher sativa percentage, most tokers will assume it’s better suited for an energy boost early in the day. Conversely, indica heavy strains should be smoked when tokers have all night to rest at home.
Who Would Sativa Strains Most Benefit?
Since sativa strains are associated with uplifting qualities, they tend to be popular with people struggling with fatigue-related conditions. For instance, many people with complaints like depression, fibromyalgia, or a “lack of motivation” use sativa strains to provide a boost throughout the day.
Many creative types also prefer using sativa strains when they’re struggling with “writer’s block.” The sativa “head buzz” effects may spur artists to see their work from a new perspective. But even if you’re not a painter, sativa strains may help accomplish mundane tasks like cleaning or laundry.
While these qualities may sound great, many tokers caution against starting with full-bred sativas. Indeed, most of the highest-potency weed strains are in the sativa lineage. Inexperienced cannabis customers may feel side effects like paranoia if they begin with sativa-rich nugs.
New users who want to experience the standard sativa benefits without THC exposure should research high-CBD sativa alternatives. For instance, many hemp farms are now creating hot sativa hybrids like Lifter. These novel strains have similar sativa effects without the intensity of THC sativas.
As customers gain more experience with cannabis, they could gradually work their way up to full-bred sativa strains.