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A racing heart, thoughts are darting from one to another, you’re feeling restless and paranoid.
You never expected cannabis could make you feel this way. After all, isn't it supposed to be relaxing and sedating?
If you are judging by many popular movies or friends' experiences, cannabis' effects are relaxation, nonstop giggling, and an overpowering urge to eat junk food.
However, cannabis has its share of different side effects, and those side effects depend on which type of cannabis you consume (and more importantly the strain’s terpene profile). Also as a disclaimer, throughout the article when we are referring to “sativas” we are referring to the common nomenclature in terms of effects instead of the plant genus, as that is the industry standard.
In this article, we're going to dive into the side effects of sativas, so continue reading to find out more.
What's the Difference Between Indicas and Sativas?
“Cannabis from both plants have the same compounds, like THC and CBD, but provide different effects.”
Most likely, you've heard the words indica and sativa being thrown around — but what do these terms mean? Well, in modern cannabis culture, we have modified these terms to mean “upper” (sativa) and “downer” (indica) when discussing the effects of cannabis.
That being said, indica and sativa are shortened names of cannabis indica and cannabis sativa — the scientific names of two species of cannabis. Both plants are closely related, but they're different genotypes of cannabis.
Cannabis sativa is native to hot and tropical regions like Africa, Thailand, and Mexico. Sativa plants grow tall, thin, and have narrow leaves.
Indica plants come from dry mountainous regions of the Middle East and are shorter, bushier, and have thicker leaves.
Cannabis from both plants have the same compounds, like THC and CBD, but provide different effects. You may be wondering: “how can there be different effects if they're mostly the same thing?”
Researchers believe that it's because of the THC and CBD ratio and other compounds like terpenoids, tertiary cannabinoids, and flavonoids that make a difference.
Sativa's Positive Effects
“Many people prefer to use sativas during the daytime because they can have more energy, clarity, and focus without feeling so sluggish and relaxed.”
There are a lot of benefits to using sativas over indicas. The heady effects of sativas can boost your mood and creative output, and many people use sativas to help relieve their ADHD, ocular pressure, and depression.
As we mentioned earlier, sativas generally have a more noticeable 'head-high' compared to indicas, and it's because of the way they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is found throughout the body, and THC receptors (the receptors that let THC affect us) are found mostly in high concentration in the brain.
Many people prefer to use sativas during the daytime because they can have more energy, clarity, and focus without feeling so sluggish and relaxed.
Sativa's Negative Side Effects
It isn't all good news, though, because there is too much of a good thing. One thing that CBD does is modulate THC — which means that it makes it weaker.
Having a higher THC dose and less CBD means that you might get a massive THC dose, which can have a variety of adverse effects, especially when in conjunction with certain terpene concentrations.
Cannabis is supposed to help you at night because it's hungry, happy, and sleepy — right? Well, sativas work a little differently.
The 'head-high' from sativas can do the opposite of relaxing you, and instead keep you awake.
Instead of drifting peacefully to sleep, you might be more likely to want to get up and do something if you have a sativa before bed. Your thoughts might be going all over the place, and you can be too stimulated to fall asleep.
Many popular cannabis strains are hybrids, so it might be better to get a sativa dominant hybrid if you are sensitive to them. That way, you can still get the relaxing effects that will help you get the sleep you need after using it during the day.
Anxiety, Stress, and Paranoia
“If you have too much THC, you might feel your heart rate rising, thoughts bouncing around, and an overwhelming sense of dread.”
How can sativas cause anxiety, stress, and paranoia if they are also used to treat it? Well, the answer is that it depends on how much you consume, what terpenes you react most to, and what your tolerance is.
A study was performed that shows that the lower the THC you consume, the less stressed you'll be. If you take a higher dose of THC, it can actually do the opposite and cause more anxiety and stress.
If you have too much THC, you might feel your heart rate rising, thoughts bouncing around, and an overwhelming sense of dread. Some people may experience a full-blown panic attack if they have too much THC (especially with some “sativa” strains).
A panic attack or high stress in general is a terrifying experience for anyone, especially if you've never experienced it.
Paranoia is a part of anxiety and is another effect of having too much THC. Fear leaves you feeling like something terrible might happen when there's no cause for concern.
These adverse side effects are amplified if you're in a situation or place that's uncomfortable. Sometimes bad external feelings can send us spiraling into anxiety when it wouldn't usually happen.
You also need to take your tolerance into account. We're not all the same, so a dose of a few gummies for one person might be too much for another.
What to Do If You Have Too Much
Remember that it's not the end of the world if you get into a panic attack or if your anxiety starts ramping up. You just need to remind yourself that you're in no real danger, and the bad feelings will pass.
You can easily avoid adverse effects if you only smoke cannabis or eat an edible in a comfortable and safe environment. Remember to keep track of what type of cannabis you're consuming and use sativas mostly in the daytime if you are a new consumer.
It's also important to keep track of your tolerance and know your dose too. One of the easiest ways to do that is to get an edible with a known consistent dosage and strain, like THC syrup or THC gummies.
Most importantly, remember to take it slow and remember that these adverse effects can happen to anyone.
Don't be afraid to try again if you have a poor experience. You'll be much stronger and more prepared than you were before, and you'll be able to enjoy all the amazing benefits of sativas.
Also, if you want to hear a short discussion between Nadeem and Derek from the Know Your Dose Podcast about sativa side effects, click here!