Choosing a cannabis strain can be confusing. With hundreds of types of cannabis available on the market, retailers are still trying to figure out the best way to break down strains into helpful categories.
That’s why most cannabis menus break strains — or cultivars, if you want to get technical — into three categories: sativa, indica, and hybrid.
Still, as researchers continue to look closer at the factors — like cannabinoids and terpenes — that change the effects of different kinds of cannabis, the sativa versus indica distinction can still be a helpful tool for finding the right product.
Instead of thinking strictly in terms of sativas versus indicas, it might be more helpful to think along the lines of sativa-like strains and indica-like strains.
Here’s a closer look at the main effects linked to sativas and a list of strains to consider.
Effects commonly associated with sativa strains
Broadly, cannabis sativa strains are said to have the following effects:
- Energizing. This is a sought-after effect for daytime consumers or for those who want to consume before doing an activity or being social.
- Uplifting. Many people report that their mood is altered and improves after consuming sativa strains.
- Increased creativity. For some, consuming a cannabis sativa product can help shift or unblock creativity, or generate new ideas.
- Mind-expanding. Not limited to creativity, cannabis sativa strains are often thought to direct attention inward for reflection.
- Sharper focus. Some report that cannabis sativa strains can help ease a distracted mind and concentrate on the task at hand.
As a result of these effects, some report that cannabis sativa products offer some relief from symptoms of:
- Depression. With their reported energizing, mood-uplifting, and creativity-inducing effects, sativas may help combat feelings of lethargy and apathy.
- Anxiety. Similarly, some people report that cannabis sativa strains can ease anxiety with soothing and uplifting effects. Others find that it helps them “snap out” of repeated or intrusive thoughts.
- ADHD. Because of the cerebral and increased focus effects attributed to sativas, some people report that cannabis sativa products help ease symptoms of ADHD.
If you’re using cannabis to help with mental health symptoms, be sure to keep up with any other prescribed treatments. And keep in mind that the impact of cannabis on mental health conditions is still poorly understood.
A quick note about strains
Before getting into specific strains, it’s important to note that the effects associated with sativas are applied very broadly. Not everyone will necessarily experience all these effects.
Every person will experience strains differently. Your physiology and endocannabinoid system, as well as your tolerance to various cannabinoids, is unique.
Your life experience and setting will also influence your experience:
- Are you surrounded by friends or complete strangers?
- Did something traumatic or difficult just occur?
- Is there something you’re dreading that’s coming up in the next few days?
Things like this will factor into how you experience specific strains.
All of this means that a high-THC sativa, for example, could feel like an uplifting antidepressant to a longtime cannabis consumer with a high tolerance for THC.
But the experience could be very different for someone with a lower tolerance, or who responds differently to various terpene profiles.
Finally, keep in mind that strains are far from being an exact science, and they’re not always consistent across brands.
If you find a strain you like from one brand, you might find that another brand’s version of that same strain feels very different.
Strains for energy
These strains are typically recommended for daytime use when you’re looking to get stuff done or find some extra motivation.
This cross between Chemdawg and Super Skunk is popular for a reason. It tends to be higher in THC, so experienced cannabis consumers seem to come back to it time and again, enjoying its energizing effects that may be helpful to people with depression.
THC and CBD content:
- THC: 17 to 26 percent
- CBD: <1 percen
Jack Herer, named after the cannabis activist and author, is another popular strain.
It ranks high on the energizing scale among reviews, with several people noting it helped with depression symptoms.
THC and CBD content:
- THC: 15 to 24 percent
- CBD: <1 percent
This strain’s name might raise a few eyebrows, but it’s really not all that different from the strains above. It’s a popular, easy to find strain that’s known for its energizing effects.
As with Jack Herer, several reviews mention relief from depression symptoms.
THC and CBD content:
- THC: 15 to 25 percent
- CBD: <1 percent
Lemon Meringue’s head high can seem very intense initially, but it calms down quickly once you find something to focus on. Although that energy is best used for physical activity, the visual aspects and focus can also be fitting for a fun movie or thrilling read. The best part? The comedown is minimal, leaving you relatively unzomibified.Tangerine PowerHerbert Fuego.
While the body feels a quick jolt of energy, the mind stays relatively calm, with some users even slowing down a bit mentally. That conflicting combination can be confusing at first, but can help with simple-minded tasks and exercise if dosed correctly. The strain’s medical benefits can include treating pain, glaucoma, headaches, eating disorders, stress and other minor forms of mental anguish.PuckerHerbert Fuego.
Light on focus, Pucker’s high is all gusto. The energy and motivation put users in a hurry no matter the task at hand, but it’s a fun hurry. Concentration might be lacking, but anxiety is also light, making it a good option for daytime. Medical users have used Pucker to treat exhaustion, anxiety, mental anguish, minor pain and headaches.Mango KushHerbert Fuego.
A stupid, happy bliss is almost immediate, with an accompanying energy that can be difficult to contain without tasks or activities in front of you. The strain’s comedown isn’t too hard, but it does get stronger the more you consume. Mango Kush has been used to treat minor pain, headaches, muscle spasms, glaucoma, stress and minor mental anguish — and severe boredom.
Super Silver Haze
Super Silver Haze’s flavor may stack up with other old Haze strains, but the high is still relatively calm, despite its reputation. Although it causes time to move a little slower than your brain and makes you prone to cottonmouth, the strain is still very reliable in the daytime and for creative projects. Medical benefits have included treating exhaustion, stress, eating disorders and excessive apath.