Sativa Side Effects: Understanding them All

The most common sativa side effects that you need to know.

Most people have heard of sativa and indica cannabis strains and know that they have different effects in terms of the high they produce. In fact, both types of weed are subspecies of Cannabis sativa L., but over thousands of years, they have evolved differently depending on the region in which they grew.

Sativa strains are typically considered to be more energizing and uplifting, while indicas have more relaxing, sedative effects. This means that sativas and indicas are better suited to treating different kinds of medical conditions, and also that they produce different side effects.

In this article, we review the side effects of sativa strains and offer some suggestions as to how to avoid them.

What is Sativa Cannabis?

Sativa cannabis strains are native to the hot, tropical regions surrounding the equator, such as Mexico, Thailand, and Africa. Because these regions offer such an ideal climate for growing weed, sativa strains grow tall, sometimes reaching heights of up to 20 feet! They have narrow, delicate leaves, and compared with indicas, their buds are less dense and have an almost fluffy appearance.

Sativa strains also generally have a higher THC to CBD ratio when compared to indicas; although, of course, there are exceptions to this rule. This high THC content means that they produce an intense cerebral high and may even have psychedelic effects in high doses. Some popular sativa strains include:

Thanks to their uplifting effects, sativa strains are often used to treat emotional disorders such as depression. Other medicinal uses of sativas are:

  • Improving the mood to alleviate depression and anxiety
  • Boosting focus and creativity
  • Increasing energy to reduce fatigue
  • Stimulating the appetite
  • Relieving pain

Although sativa strains are not used as frequently for pain relief as indicas, which may have a lower THC: CBD ratio, they are useful for patients who need to medicate during the day without being sedated. They are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to benefit from using marijuana but still has tasks to complete.

The side effects of sativa strains are actually closely related to some of their potential benefits. After all, you can always have too much of a good thing! Let’s look at the most common sativa side effects and how to prevent them.

Sativa Side Effects

Like any powerful medicine, cannabis has the potential to produce some unpleasant side effects. Some of these are common to both indica and sativa strains, but others are more likely to happen with a sativa.

Anxiety and Paranoia

Just as potent sativa strains can have a profoundly positive effect on your mood, when taken to excess the opposite could happen. This is due to the way that THC interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is made up of receptors and chemicals called endocannabinoids, which fit into them. Since THC is a similarly shaped molecule to these endocannabinoids, it also has the ability to fit into these receptors and trigger a cascade of reactions throughout the body.

When THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain, it releases various neurotransmitters, which is what brings about the feeling of being high. Since many sativa strains have a high THC: CBD ratio, they can produce powerful effects such as sensory changes and the sense of time slowing down. Recreational users are likely to enjoy these effects, but they may not be so welcome for patients who simply want to reduce their pain.

These effects can also be scary if you are not expecting them or are in unfamiliar, uncomfortable surroundings. They can cause feelings of panic and anxiety as your heart and mind begin to race. In extreme cases, being too high may even lead to paranoia or temporary psychosis.

Although these unpleasant effects are more likely to affect people who are predisposed to mental health issues, they can affect anyone who oversteps their limits. This is why it is always wise to start slowly when experimenting with any new strain and build up once you know how it affects you.

You can also lessen your chances of becoming anxious by only using weed in familiar surroundings with people you are comfortable being around. If you are hit with anxiety while high, try and remind yourself that it is a temporary side effect and will soon pass. Another tip is to try taking some CBD oil before getting high to balance out THC’s powerful effects. Check out our article on how CBD counteracts THC to find out more.


Since sativa strains often increase energy and focus, if you use one before bed, you could end up being unable to sleep. Although at first, you might enjoy lying in bed with random thoughts running through your head, after a while, you could become frustrated when you fail to drift off.

Combat this sativa side effect by only using this type of weed in the day and switching to a calming indica such as Granddaddy Purple before bed.


You might feel dizzy after smoking any marijuana, but it is far more likely if you choose a high THC sativa. Smoking weed lowers your blood pressure, and this means that you might feel lightheaded, especially if you stand up suddenly.

One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is by staying well-hydrated. You can read more tips on how not to feel dizzy when high in our related article.

The Munchies

The munchies can be a problem when using any potent weed. This is a beneficial side effect if you are trying to gain weight, but if not, it can be annoying, not to mention unhealthy. Reduce the adverse effects of the munchies by choosing healthier snacks or try to distract yourself with other activities, if you can!

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, or cottonmouth as it is sometimes known, is a common side effect of any weed. It happens because THC binds with receptors in your salivary glands and slows production down. Fortunately, this sativa side effect is more irritating than serious and can be easily combated by drinking plenty of fluids or sucking on hard candy (lemon flavor is best).

Long Term Sativa Side Effects

Anyone using marijuana regularly might be worried about the long-term side effects of the herb. Although many people believe that there are actually long-term health benefits to using weed, there are some risks to consider too.

The most significant danger from long-term cannabis use arises if you consume your bud by smoking. Although not as harmful as tobacco, marijuana can still irritate your throat and lungs and cause conditions such as chronic bronchitis. It is considered much healthier to vape or use edibles instead.

One long-term sativa side effect to watch out for is an increased risk of psychosis or schizophrenia. These serious conditions are more likely to affect people with a predisposition to them or those who start using at a young age. However, it is worth being aware that this is something that could happen, and if you notice any changes in your mental health, consider stopping or switching to a different strain. CBD is believed to mitigate some of this risk, so if you have a pre-existing mood disorder, try a strain which contains a healthy dose of this cannabinoid rather than a high THC content.

Finally, it is worth being aware that both marijuana and CBD can interact with other medications. This is because they are metabolized in the liver by the same enzymes as many other drugs (the CYP450 pathway). If you take any over-the-counter or prescribed medication, talk to your doctor about whether cannabis is safe for you.

Sativa Side Effects: Final Thoughts

Sativa strains are known for their energizing, uplifting, and psychedelic effects. This makes them a great option for recreational users or anyone looking to treat conditions such as depression or fatigue.

However, when taken in excessive amounts, sativa strains could cause anxiety and paranoia, especially if you are a novice and do not know what to expect. The best way to avoid having a bad time on your favorite sativa bud is to be prepared. Create a calm and comfortable environment in which to get high and only use a small amount of any new strain, to begin with.

We hope you found this article informative and that you now know what to expect when you use sativa cannabis strains. Remember always to use responsibly to gain the maximum enjoyment from your weed

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