Even if you’re a newcomer to the world of cannabis, you’ve probably heard the terms “sativa” and “indica” used to describe strains of cannabis. What do those terms really mean, and what are the best sativa strains to try right now? Strap yourself in!
Sativa and Indica: A Primer
Although it’s one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world—Chinese physicians were already prescribing cannabis for ailments such as gout, rheumatism and malaria some 4700 years ago—it wasn’t until the 18th century that European botanists formally classified the cannabis plant.
Back then, the names “sativa” and “indica” had very different meanings than they do today. “Sativa” referred to the hemp plants grown mostly in Europe and Eurasia for their fiber and their seeds. Until it was outlawed here in the US in 1937, hemp was a purely commercial crop, used in the manufacture of fabrics, sails, ropes, and other vital naval supplies. By comparison, “indica” was used to describe cannabis—hemp’s cousin—as a plant with psychoactive properties grown in India and Central Asia.
Over time, though, those meanings morphed. After hemp—which is non-psychoactive—was banned, cannabis began to be described as being “sativa” or “indica” in large part on its effects.
What Makes a Sativa…a Sativa?
Physically speaking, sativa plants have thin-bladed, widely spaced leaves, and can reach heights of 20 feet. By comparison, indicas are squatter and denser, much closer to bushes than “trees,” as sativas are sometimes called.
More importantly, sativas tend to have a very different effect on us than indicas. The high produced by a sativa strain is best described as “cerebral,” “buzzy” or “energizing.” By comparison, indicas tend to have heavier, more body-centered effects. It’s important to note that both sativas and indicas contain the same cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. It’s just that due to their overall cannabinoid and terpene profiles, they can exhibit very different effects on our bodies.
That said, some in the cannabis world are moving away from the sativa / indica dichotomy, arguing that most plants are hybrids of the two anyway, and that a plant’s physical appearance has little to nothing to do with its chemical properties.
Fair enough. But we still use that nomenclature for one important reason: If it can help make the confusing topic of cannabis a little bit easier to understand, we’re all for it.
Where to Begin? The Best Sativa Strains
If you’re curious about experiencing the best sativa strains, here’s a starter list. As always, check our live menu first to make sure we’ve got what you want in stock!
A near-legendary sativa-dominant hybrid associated with a gentle euphoria, creative inspiration and full-body relaxation. You might note its strong blueberry scent first, but you’ll be hooked by its strong symptom relief without noticeable sedation.
A relatively unusual sativa-dominant hybrid, this is consistently named a “best sativa strain” for its delicious sour citrus and menthol flavors. It’s noted for a strong euphoric effect and stereotypical sativa uplift and motivation.
A legendary strain among cannabis users, this strain—named for the late cannabis activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes—is known for a blissful, clear-headed, and inspiring high as well as a delightfully spicy, pine-scented aroma and flavor.
Want some more recommendations? Stop by your closest Have a Heart and ask our budtenders! Already know what you want? Save some time and order ahead!
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