One of the first things budding cannabis consumers hear is that the effects of sativa strains are different from the effects of indica strains. Sativa is believed to give a “head high” while indica gives a “body high.” This “head high” simply means more cerebral effects as opposed to more physical effects (like couch-lock).
The cerebral sativa high is considered perfect for anyone who prefers to consume during the day. Some of the most popular sativas like Jack Herer, Trainwreck, and Green Crack are enjoyed for their strong mental stimulation. However, they may be overstimulating for those prone to anxiety.
Seems simple, right? But is it accurate?
Seeking the Effects of Sativa: Not So Simple
Here’s the truth. Data collected by cannabis researchers suggests the categories of indica, sativa, and hybrid are actually meaningless and not a great way to make informed decisions about what to consume.
Yes, they certainly look different. Indicas are short and broad-leafed. Sativas are tall and narrow-leafed. But there’s little evidence to suggest one is always physically sedating and the other always a ticket to mental uplift. Cannabis is classified this way because it’s convenient, especially when there are so many strains, products, and new customers.
So if the effects of sativa or indica are not guaranteed, how can we choose a strain?
Cannabinoids and Terpenes
When you’re at a dispensary and want to make sure you’re getting the right product for your needs, instead of using the terms indica or sativa, break the plant down into cannabinoids and terpenes for a clearer picture.
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers. THC and CBD are the dominant ones to check for.
THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol)-dominant strains will get you high or, in other words, alter your mind. THC can help manage pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and more. It can also cause anxiety and is not ideal if you need to be clear-headed.
CBD (cannabidiol)-dominant strains often reduce anxiety and improve mental clarity.
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are produced in many plants and fruits. They make cannabis smell like berries, citrus, pine, fuel, etc. Ask the budtender to let you smell the strains you’re considering. Find the aromas that you like and give them a try.
What’s Right for You?
When looking at strains that are labeled as high sativa or indica or hybrid, figure out the following instead:
- What do you want to feel? Mellow, energetic, happy, focused? For example, if you want emotional uplift, strains across the board will help.
- What methods of consumption are best for you? Do you want the effects to last a long time? Consider edibles. Do you want a short-term experience? Inhalants or a tincture may work best.
Let your budtender know what you want and he or she will look beyond the assumed effects of sativa or indica to help you find the product that has the appropriate potency and composition of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Also, always write down what you took, how much, and what it felt like. That tracking will help you when you go back to buy more. Eventually, you’ll know what works for you.