Marijuana Guide:  Understanding SATIVA Strains

As decriminalisation and legalisation initiatives sweep the world, more and more research is being conducted into the biological make-up of the cannabis plant, and developing the limited categories we have so far organised it into.  Traditionally, the cannabis plant has been divided into four‘types’ – sativa, indica, ruderalis and hybrid, but as scientists discover more about the plant they are beginning to questionwhether this primitive means of organisation is entirely appropriate for such a complex plant.  In this article, we’ll take a look at what it is that defines sativa strains right now – but be aware that global understanding of cannabis is changing incredibly quickly, and there may be far more that meets the eye than simply sativa, indica and hybrid strains.  The cannabinoid and terpene profiles of the plant are rapidly gaining importance in understanding the differences between strains, and there is every chance that before long, the words ‘sativa’ and ‘indica’ may lose or change their meaning entirely.

How to Spot a Sativa Strain by Eye

Cannabis Sativa strains are native to hot climates with long, dry, sunny days.  They grow naturally all around the world from Asia to America, but are thought to have originated from equatorial locations.  They are known to usually take longer to grow and mature than indica, hybrid or ruderalis strains, with much longer vegetation periods which usually lead to lower yields.  Visually, sativa plants are tall and thin with long, narrow leaves that grow outwards and upwards, and buds that spread along the entire stem rather than gathering at the nodes like indicas do.  Sativa strains have been known to grow over twenty feet, but usually stay below twelve, and their leaves tend to be of a lighter shade than indica strains.

What Are the Effects of Sativa Strains?

Sativas are smoked for their cerebral high, and are claimed by many to improve focus, motivation and creativity.  Most people prefer to consume sativa during the day due to itsuplifting effects, reported to increase productivity and imagination.  You are unlikely to feel lethargic having consumed a sativa strain of cannabis, instead achieving a more energetic high which offers opportunity to delve into deep conversations.  For these reasons, sativa strains are popular in the treatment of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.  Typically, there is more THC in sativa strains than CBD.  Cannabis sativa is also used to treat chronic pain, and it causes increases and changes to serotonin levels in the body, which can affect mood and appetite.  The latter has led to several recent and promising studies into the benefits cannabis can offer to those suffering from anorexia, bullimia and other eating disorders.  Sativa strains often have higher percentages of THCV, however, which serves as an appetite suppressant, illustrating how complex the cannabinoid profiles of strains can be.  THCV is a lesser-studied cannabinoid than THC and CBD, and therefore we are only beginning to understand what it offers.  However, some effects investigated so far include its involvement in regulating blood sugar, stimulating bone growth and even addressing the symptoms presented in Alzheimer’s patients.

What Sativa Strains Are Available?

It’s probably an impossible task to count all of the sativastrains on the market right now, but there are some famous names to look out for which give optimum sativa effects.  Amnesia Haze is amongst the most famous sativa strains, shortly followed by Durban Poison and Sour Diesel, but there are many, many others.  Amnesia Haze can contain up to 25% THC and is well-reputed for its long-lasting effects.  Other well-known strains include Jack Herer, White Widow, AK-47 and Tangie.  As breeders and botanists are allowed more freedoms to explore and investigate the cannabis plant, more and more new sativa strains are expected to emerge in the coming years – these are certainly exciting times for cannabis enthusiasts!

Things to Note When Growing Sativa Strains

Beginner growers are not usually advised to start with sativa strains, given their long vegetation time and their size.  The length of time and amount of energy required to grow cannabis sativa combined with lower yields offer less profit for beginners, and therefore less reward for their hard work.  It is usually recommended that newbies to the cannabis world begin with higher yield crops which will inspire them to continue growing and experimenting, rather than something which may feel a little anti-climactic.  However, the benefits to consuming cannabis sativa strains are certainly worth the effort put into producing them, and some breeders are achieving new strains that come closer to indica vegetation periods.  Another positive to growing cannabis sativa is its resilience against heat, given its native home at the equator.  This brings benefits when growing indoors, where temperatures are more difficult to control under heat lamps.

Using Sativas in Everyday Life

The high achieved through consuming sativa strains of cannabis is one that allows artists to delve deeper into their creativity, and athletes the ability to remain focused and energised.  Users use cannabis sativa as medicine for a variety of different conditions, but its effects are not limited to the therapeutic.  Recreationally, sativa strains are known to inspire lengthy and deep conversations, and offer a high which doesn’t tend to cause a drop in productivity.  Sativas tend not to ‘knock you out’ in the same ways that indicas do, allowing users to consume during the day without risking a drop in motivation or energy.  In spite of their differences to indica strains, sativa strains can be consumed in exactly the same ways, but their varying effects will present through whatever consumption method you choose.

Whilst there remains a lack of consensus regarding the scientific definition of cannabis sativa, and how it differs to the other classifications of cannabis, the canna-world is alight with a vast array of interested and intelligent connoisseurs waiting to learn more about this amazing plant.  The roles that terpenes play in dictating the effects of a cannabis strain are only just beginning to be investigated, along with how different people (and their different endocannabinoid systems) can affect the experience.

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