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Looking for a pick-me-up? Then be sure to steer clear of an indica. You need to be looking at sativas, with the powers to wake you up. But, what makes a good sativa so energizing? The answer may lie in the unique cannabinoid profile of true sativa strains. 

Less THC

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There are a few reasons why sativas help you feel focused and energized. Perhaps the primary reason is that pure sativas and pure indicas are psychoactive in different ways due to their unique cannabinoid profiles.

In their natural environment sativas have lower THC content than their hardy indica relatives.  For the marijuana plant, cannabinoids act as a type of external immune system. They are chemicals that help the herb survive in its natural environment. Indicas come from colder regions with tougher weather conditions. That simple fact means that they produce more THC as a coping mechanism.

Don’t get me wrong, THC is amazing. But, high levels of THC can leave you stuck on the couch rather than rearing to start the day.

Sativas, in contrast, prefer warmer climates and face different environmental challenges. This means the sativa plant naturally has a different cannabinoid profile than the indica. While sativas tend to produce lower amounts of THC, they DO produce large amounts of other cannabinoids. It’s these other cannabinoids coupled with THC that give sativas their unique, energizing effect.

More THCV

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Though they may have lower levels of THC, sativas are still highly psychoactive. New studies have shown that the sativa plant contains higher levels of phytocannabinoids that change the way THC interacts with cells in your body.A phytocannabinoid is a chemical that is unique to the marijuana plant. It’s also a plant chemical that happens to “fit” into cell receptors in our own bodies. In the case of sativas, a distinguishing phytocannabinoid is THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin).

On average, sativa plants have more THCV than their indica counterparts.

THCV is not psychoactive on its own. Rather, the chemical seems to work in tandem with THC.  In research published as recently as November 2015, THCV was shown to partially mitigate the strong psychoactive effects of THC. In the double-blind study, participants were given either THCV  or a placebo for 5 days prior to being given THC. The participants reported no psychological effects while taking solely THCV.

And after taking the THC? 9 of 10 of those who had been given THCV reported less psychological impairment. THCV was also shown to:

  • Reduce heart rate while using THC
  • Reduce memory impairment correlated with THC
  • Have possible neural-protective effects

THCV may energize you by boosting your memory and clearing out some of the cobwebs caused by THC.

Selective Breeding

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Here’s where things get a little tricky. The weed we smoke now is a far cry from the herb found in its natural environment. Since the invention of the hydroponic system in the 80s, we’ve basically been selectively breeding phytocannabinoids out of the marijuana plant.

Why? THC is awesome. With such a high demand for psychoactive cannabis, it’s difficult to find weed strains that produce a true sativa effect. Even if you do find a pure sativa strain, growing conditions need to be just right in order for certain cannabinoids to fully express themselves.

Landrace Sativa Strains

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If you’re interested in finding out what true sativa energy feels like, ask your local dispensary for landrace or heirloom bud. Here are a few to get you started:

High THCV Sativa Strains

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These rare strains have been bred specifically for their high THCV content:

Cannabis science is really quite complicated. The presence of phytocannabinoids that work alongside THC is what gives sativas their focused, energizing effect. Yet, how exactly these compounds work together AND work inside your body is yet to be understood by the scientific community.

Examining the correlation between THCV and THC is just the beginning. There are over 480 natural compounds found in the marijuana plant. Needless to say, much is to be discovered about the way these compounds work together in synergy.

What’s your favorite sativa strain? Does it give you an energetic buzz? Share your thoughts with us on social media or in the comments section below! We’d love to hear what you have to say.

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