The Science of Sativa Cannabis Strains

When choosing a strain of weed, users who want uplifting and stimulating effects will usually go straight for sativa cannabis strains. While indica cannabis strains are known for helping you relax and hybrid strains are known for giving you a balance of indica and sativa genetics, sativa strains are prominent for delivering a sharp mental boost and warding away mood issues.

But while you might notice an uplifting high when you smoke sativa strains, you might wonder what is the science of sativa cannabis strains? There’s still not a lot of in-depth research into why indica and sativa strains offer different effects and some researchers believe they aren’t all that different. With that said, there are many potential reasons. Here’s a guide to sativa strains and the science behind them.

The Difference Between Indica And Sativa Strains

Before trying to figure out why sativa strains affect you the way they do, it helps to know what exactly is the difference between indica and sativa strains. These are two of the three common types of plants in the cannabis family, with the other being ruderalis cannabis. But while ruderalis cannabis flowers don’t produce THC, indica and sativa plants are known for producing the buds users know as marijuana.

Indica plants are the shorter and bushier plants of the two. Indica cannabis plants grow faster than sativa plants and are often better-suited to growing indoors where you can control the temperature. In contrast, sativa plants are long, slender, and well-suited to outdoor growing, although they can take a few extra weeks to grow successfully.

It’s the weed harvested from these plants that most users are interested in. Indica strains are known for their body-focused effects whereas sativa strains are known for their head-focused effects. There are many potential reasons for this, but the most common reason is due to the different profiles of cannabinoids and terpenes they produce.

The Difference Between Indica And Sativa Strains

What Are The Effects Of Sativa Cannabis Strains?

So what exactly should you expect when you smoke or vape sativa cannabis strains? While each strain is unique in terms of its aroma, flavor, and the effects it can induce, certain effects are commonly linked to sativa strains.

In general, sativa strains will give you a potent head buzz. They can stimulate your mind to make you feel more mentally alert and focused. Some users use these strains as a creativity booster or something to help them focus on tasks throughout the day. Others use them to help them wake up and counteract fatigue in the morning.

Sativa strains are also known for their ability to help with mood disorders. Research shows that just a couple of puffs of cannabis can help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, and sativa strains are a prime example of these effects. While the indica high makes you feel more calm, relaxed, and sleepy, the high from sativa strains usually makes you feel happy, optimistic, and motivated to take on the day.

The Science Of Sativa Cannabis Strains

Why do sativa strains produce the effects they do? These strains differ from indica strains in various ways- not only in the way the plants look and grow, but also in the compounds contained within the buds. Each strain of marijuana has a unique profile of cannabinoids and terpenes, and these are what create the effects you feel when you smoke them.

Generally, sativa strains are known to have higher THC counts and lower CBD counts compared to indica strains. THC is the sole psychoactive chemical in marijuana that heightens your senses and activates reward circuits in the brain, so it makes sense why these strains would be more mentally-stimulating. 

With that said, there are still many sativa strains with high levels of CBD– the non-psychoactive cannabinoid known for its soothing properties. Another reason why sativa strains differ from indica strains is due to the terpenes they contain. Terpenes are naturally-occurring compounds found in various plants and fruits, as well as cannabis. These work in conjunction with cannabinoids to provide an entourage effect.

How Terpenes Effect Sativa Strains

How Terpenes Effect Sativa Strains

Terpenes are essential oils that can be found in all cannabis strains, as well as various other plants. Each strain has different levels of different terpenes, hence why each strain smells, tastes, and feels different. But while there are hundreds of terpenes, there are a few that are particularly common in sativa strains.

Sativa strains generally contain high levels of pinene- a terpene also common in pine trees and herbs. Pinene is said to help with mental alertness and focus, hence why these strains often give you a stimulating head high. Pinene also adds a pine-like smell and taste to these strains.

Limonene is another terpene that can be found in various sativa strains. Limonene is a terpene also found in lemon, as well as other citrus fruits. Limonene is also known for boosting your mood and inducing euphoria, hence why sativa strains are known for being uplifting. This is also why you’ll find many fruity-tasting sativa strains.

In contrast, indica cannabis strains contain higher levels of other terpenes such as myrcene. Myrcene can help produce soothing and sedating effects, hence why these strains are generally more physically relaxing. Terpenes work in unison with cannabinoids to enhance the high you get and are a big part of why each strain produces different effects.


Sativa cannabis strains are the perfect choice for users who want a more stimulating, and head-focused high. They help heighten your senses, elevate your mood, and even improve your mental focus and creativity, making them great for daily tasks. They can also help ward away mood disorders.

Part of the science behind these strains is that they contain high levels of THC- the cannabinoid that stimulates your mind and activates reward circuits in the brain. Mentally stimulating terpenes such as pinene and limonene also contribute to these effects. Still, each strain differs slightly and it’s worth trying out a range to see which you like best. You can find a wide variety of sativa, indica, and hybrid strains online at

Leave a Reply