Overall, there are three ‘types’ of marijuana strain: Indica, sativa, and ruderalis. The latter is seldom used, although autoflowering strains tend to have ruderalis genetics. In the main, however, weed lovers stick with sativa and indica cannabis; or a combination of the two, known as hybrids.
Known as the social cannabis strain, sativas are famous for their energizing effects on the user. They deliver a “high” that promotes creativity, activity, and sociability. Users continue to favor sativa strains due to their uplifting effects. They are often the most popular among those who consume cannabis recreationally, rather than for medicinal purposes (sativas usually contain far higher levels of THC than CBD).
In this guide, we provide a brief reminder of what a sativa strain is and give our opinion on five of the best sativa strains ever.
Sativa Strains: What Are They?
First, though, before we jump straight into the top five, let’s get a better idea of what “strains” actually are, and specifically what a sativa strain is.
A marijuana strain is a slight variation of the cannabis plant, which goes by the scientific name Cannabis sativa L. As we mentioned in the introduction, there are three recognized cannabis types: Indica, sativa, and hybrid. The sativa variety probably originated from Africa, Asia, and South and Central America, and is found naturally in nations such as Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, and Cambodia.
Like the other cannabis types, sativa was developed and genetically bred over the centuries to promote specific characteristics of the plant. Indicas are known for their sedative high and potentially couch-locking side effects. In contrast, sativas work to boost energy, offer a high level of self-worth and likely increase focus and creativity.
Hybrid strains, as you might guess, contain a mix of indica and sativa traits. They’re often the most popular amongst regular users, as they tend to provide the best of both worlds!
Sativa plants have thinner leaves and far longer flowering cycles than indicas. They are also significantly taller. While most sativa strains grow no higher than 12 feet, a handful of plants reach an incredible height of 25 feet! Look closely, and you’ll find that sativa plants carry a lighter shade of green than their indica counterparts. As well as taking longer to grow and mature than indicas, sativas need more light.
The stimulating effects caused by pure sativa makes it ideal for daytime use.
The Differences Between an Indica Strain and a Sativa Strain
There are significant differences between the dynamic duo. Indeed, you could say they are ‘opposites’ in many ways. From the effects on body and mind down to their coloring and height, the contrasts make a mockery of any notion that weed strains are the same. Here’s a quick chart outlining the differences.
- Higher in THC and lower in CBD
- Promotes a feeling of energy
- Best for daytime use
- Found in hot, dry climates with long sunny days. Regions include Central America, Africa, and Western Asia
- Grows tall with thin leaves and a light coloring
- Has a long flowering time of up to 12 weeks depending on the strain
- Treats medical conditions such as anxiety, depression, and chronic pain while promoting focus and creativity. Increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate anxiety, appetite, and mood
- Often not as much THC as a sativa
- Promotes a feeling of relaxation
- Best for late evening/nighttime use
- Found in harsh, dry environments such as the Hindu Kush Mountains. Areas include Turkey, India, and Pakistan
- Grows short and stocky with wide, broad leaves, and greener coloring
- Has a medium length flowering time of 7-9 weeks depending on the strain
- Treats nausea, acute pain, loss of appetite, and promotes muscle relaxation. Increases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls your brain’s reward and pleasure centers
Even though indica and sativa strains have unique characteristics, hybrid strains are often the most popular among average users. They provide the best benefits from both weed types, and ultimately filter out the undesired side-effects of each!
What Medical Conditions Do Sativas Potentially Treat?
The relatively high THC level in sativa strains makes them popular with recreational users. However, their potency leads to possible therapeutic effects. Let’s examine a few of them below.
Depression is the most common mental disorder in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 300 million people have the condition. Women (8.7%) have a higher rate of depression than men (5.3%). However, these figures are potentially skewed since males are less inclined to seek treatment. An estimated 50% of people diagnosed with depression also receive a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.
The prevalence of the condition means there are many treatment options available. Standard options include powerful antidepressants and cognitive therapy treatment. The vast majority of prescribed medications come with a lengthy list of side effects, as well as a high risk of addiction. There are also severe withdrawal symptoms if the user stops using them suddenly.
CBD is linked with significant benefits to a person’s mental health. As such, it is essential to search for sativa strains with a reasonable level of CBD to combat the THC content. Have you ever wondered why you often feel ‘happier’ after exercise? What happens is that exercise increases endocannabinoid production.
A study by Meyer et al., published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, in September 2019, says as much. Interestingly, the research team discovered that the endocannabinoid production of people with depression increased after exercise. Since cannabinoids such as THC and CBD perform a similar function, it stands to reason that the herb is capable of boosting your mood.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), at least 30 million people have an eating disorder. Incredibly, a person dies every 62 minutes as a direct result! Up to 80% of the risk for bulimia and anorexia is genetic.
The condition is more prevalent in women. Over 90% of women try to control their weight with a diet at least once in their lifetime. It is also a myth to suggest that the issue mainly affects younger women. 13% of American females aged 50+ develop an eating disorder.
Again, traditional treatments such as medication are used and don’t work particularly well. Fortunately, this is another area where sativa marijuana strains are potentially useful and therapeutic. In many cases, the user will feel they can eat anything, even after just a puff or two!
This is referred to as “the munchies,” and historical data and clinical studies have shown that there is a science behind it!
Increased appetite due to marijuana consumption comes down to our endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is responsible for controlling numerous aspects of our bodies. When consumed, the cannabinoids in weed attach to our CB1 and CB2 receptors. This process boosts levels of dopamine and leads to an increase in appetite.
A study by Avraham et al., published in The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, in 2017, investigated the effect of THC on the psychological symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Although it was merely a pilot study, it concluded that marijuana is potentially capable of improving the symptoms of the condition.
The above are just two of the conditions that sativa strains could combat. However, the frequent use of a sativa strain may help alleviate the symptoms of several other medical issues. Without further ado, let’s check out five incredible sativa strains.
The 5 Best Sativa Cannabis Strains Ever
Narrowing down such a vast field was tough, but we just about managed it. You may not agree with all the selections. If so, please let us know what your favorite sativa is in the comments section.
#1 – The World-Famous Strain: Jack Herer
The multi-award-winning Jack Herer is a sativa-dominant hybrid strain that’s traditionally only about 55% sativa. It leaves you in a state of blissful happiness and, given that it contains, on average, around 15-24% THC with a low level of CBD (about 1-2%), it is a strain that’s guaranteed to deliver!
Jack Herer is a cross of Shiva Skunk, Northern Lights #5, and Haze. It is named after a legendary marijuana advocate famous for writing The Emperor Wears No Clothes.
This strain boasts a super spicy aroma and delivers a sensory treat that will cool you down. It is desired by individuals suffering from lung problems because the cooling sensation is incredibly relieving.
If you’re looking for a buzz that won’t result in a massive comedown, Jack Herer is your man!
#2 – The Espresso Strain: Durban Poison
The Durban Poison strain is a pure sativa, discovered by an American weed activist who brought it to America in the 1970s. This landrace strain hits you hard, and it’s energetic, uplifting high can help you get through a grueling day. Users claim it is akin to consuming several espresso shots!
Durban Poison also helps boosts creativity and is a great ‘wake and bake’ strain if you have a hard work schedule coming up. The THC content is usually between 16% and 20%, but we know of versions with a whopping 24%! There is minimal CBD to counteract the effects, so use it sparingly at first!
It has a distinctive sweet and spicy aroma with fruity notes. Although recreational users love it, Durban Poison has a few medicinal benefits. These include migraine relief, increased appetite, and antiemetic properties!
#3 – The Comical Strain: Hawaiian Snow
Hawaiian Snow contains 80-90% sativa with a small portion of indica. The effects on offer range from uplifting and cerebral to incredibly energizing! This strain is prescribed regularly to those who suffer from anxiety and depression and is renowned for its ability to elevate moods. It is a cross of Hawaiian Haze, Neville’s Haze, and Pure Haze.
With THC levels of up to 24%, it’s another strong one, and users can expect to feel a rush of energy and creativity when consuming this strain. With scents often compared to incense, the rich eucalyptus aroma delivers an underlying citrusy note that’s appealing in more ways than one.
Hawaiian Snow is famous for its ability to send the user into a state of uncontrollable giggles, so proceed with caution with this particular strain! Overall, the results speak for themselves, as Hawaiian Snow has won four awards over the past few years.
#4 – The Hard Hitter Strain: Moby Dick
Explicitly designed to provide a robust medicinal benefit, Moby Dick scores high on the THC front with levels up to 27%. This makes for one hell of a high that will leave users feeling spaced out and euphoric at the same time! It is a cross of Haze and White Widow.
At 75% sativa, Moby Dick promises a focused and creative high. However, the high levels of THC could promote a level of laziness, an unusual trait in sativa-dominant strains. It delivers a pleasant body numbing sensation with a strong, and sometimes trippy, vibe.
In terms of therapeutic relief, Moby Dick is used to help with stress, anxiety, and depression. It is also excellent for those who suffer from anorexia because users often succumb to the munchies. With citrusy aromas and a pleasant vanilla flavor, this strain is ideal if you’re looking for a high that packs a punch!
#5 – The Smooth Strain: Amnesia Haze
Newbies, approach with caution! Amnesia Haze is an incredibly strong strain. It is a sativa-dominant hybrid (up to 80%), and its THC content can hit 24%, though there is up to 1% CBD depending on the cut. It is an eclectic mix of strains, and is a cross of a Hawaiian, Jamaican, Thai, and Cambodian sativa, Haze, a South Asian indica, and Afghani!
Amnesia Haze provides feelings of sharpened focus and motivation, but also comes with a powerful body and head high that leads to some intense psychotropic effects. It is famed for its splendid citrus aroma and has won first place in the Cannabis Cup in 2004, along with a win in the Sativa Cup in 2012.
Great for daytime consumption, Amnesia Haze often leads to feelings of euphoria and provides an energetic, uplifted mood. Sufferers of depression, stress, or anxiety may look to this strain for relief as it is guaranteed to brighten up their day!
Best Sativa Strains: Final Thoughts
If you are a recreational user, it is likely that you already use sativa-dominant hybrids or landrace sativas like Durban Poison. However, this type of marijuana also carries an array of potential medical benefits. In the main, people use sativa strains during the daytime to help promote a higher level of energy and focus.
However, feel free to try one of the above strains if you have a condition such as chronic pain, depression, or an eating disorder. If you are fed up with pharmaceutical drugs or are worried about side-effects, consider marijuana. It might just help you. Please discuss your potential use with a registered healthcare provider and make sure medical cannabis is legal in your state.