Sativa Side Effects: Understanding them All

Everything you need to know
MarijuanaBreak Staff MarijuanaBreak Staff / Updated on July 2, 2019

Sativa Side Effects

The most common sativa side effects that you need to know.

Most people have heard of sativa and indica cannabis strains and know that they have different effects in terms of the high they produce. In fact, both types of weed are subspecies of Cannabis sativa L., but over thousands of years, they have evolved differently depending on the region in which they grew.

Sativa strains are typically considered to be more energizing and uplifting, while indicas have more relaxing, sedative effects. This means that sativas and indicas are better suited to treating different kinds of medical conditions, and also that they produce different side effects.

In this article, we review the side effects of sativa strains and offer some suggestions as to how to avoid them.

What is Sativa Cannabis?

Sativa cannabis strains are native to the hot, tropical regions surrounding the equator, such as Mexico, Thailand, and Africa. Because these regions offer such an ideal climate for growing weed, sativa strains grow tall, sometimes reaching heights of up to 20 feet! They have narrow, delicate leaves, and compared with indicas, their buds are less dense and have an almost fluffy appearance.

Sativa strains also generally have a higher THC to CBD ratio when compared to indicas; although, of course, there are exceptions to this rule. This high THC content means that they produce an intense cerebral high and may even have psychedelic effects in high doses. Some popular sativa strains include:

Thanks to their uplifting effects, sativa strains are often used to treat emotional disorders such as depression. Other medicinal uses of sativas are:

  • Improving the mood to alleviate depression and anxiety
  • Boosting focus and creativity
  • Increasing energy to reduce fatigue
  • Stimulating the appetite
  • Relieving pain

Although sativa strains are not used as frequently for pain relief as indicas, which may have a lower THC: CBD ratio, they are useful for patients who need to medicate during the day without being sedated. They are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to benefit from using marijuana but still has tasks to complete.

The side effects of sativa strains are actually closely related to some of their potential benefits. After all, you can always have too much of a good thing! Let’s look at the most common sativa side effects and how to prevent them.

Sativa Side Effects

Like any powerful medicine, cannabis has the potential to produce some unpleasant side effects. Some of these are common to both indica and sativa strains, but others are more likely to happen with a sativa.

Anxiety and Paranoia

Just as potent sativa strains can have a profoundly positive effect on your mood, when taken to excess the opposite could happen. This is due to the way that THC interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is made up of receptors and chemicals called endocannabinoids, which fit into them. Since THC is a similarly shaped molecule to these endocannabinoids, it also has the ability to fit into these receptors and trigger a cascade of reactions throughout the body.

When THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain, it releases various neurotransmitters, which is what brings about the feeling of being high. Since many sativa strains have a high THC: CBD ratio, they can produce powerful effects such as sensory changes and the sense of time slowing down. Recreational users are likely to enjoy these effects, but they may not be so welcome for patients who simply want to reduce their pain.

These effects can also be scary if you are not expecting them or are in unfamiliar, uncomfortable surroundings. They can cause feelings of panic and anxiety as your heart and mind begin to race. In extreme cases, being too high may even lead to paranoia or temporary psychosis.

Although these unpleasant effects are more likely to affect people who are predisposed to mental health issues, they can affect anyone who oversteps their limits. This is why it is always wise to start slowly when experimenting with any new strain and build up once you know how it affects you.

You can also lessen your chances of becoming anxious by only using weed in familiar surroundings with people you are comfortable being around. If you are hit with anxiety while high, try and remind yourself that it is a temporary side effect and will soon pass. Another tip is to try taking some CBD oil before getting high to balance out THC’s powerful effects. Check out our article on how CBD counteracts THC to find out more.


Since sativa strains often increase energy and focus, if you use one before bed, you could end up being unable to sleep. Although at first, you might enjoy lying in bed with random thoughts running through your head, after a while, you could become frustrated when you fail to drift off.

Combat this sativa side effect by only using this type of weed in the day and switching to a calming indica such as Granddaddy Purple before bed.


You might feel dizzy after smoking any marijuana, but it is far more likely if you choose a high THC sativa. Smoking weed lowers your blood pressure, and this means that you might feel lightheaded, especially if you stand up suddenly.

One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is by staying well-hydrated. You can read more tips on how not to feel dizzy when high in our related article.

The Munchies

The munchies can be a problem when using any potent weed. This is a beneficial side effect if you are trying to gain weight, but if not, it can be annoying, not to mention unhealthy. Reduce the adverse effects of the munchies by choosing healthier snacks or try to distract yourself with other activities, if you can!

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, or cottonmouth as it is sometimes known, is a common side effect of any weed. It happens because THC binds with receptors in your salivary glands and slows production down. Fortunately, this sativa side effect is more irritating than serious and can be easily combated by drinking plenty of fluids or sucking on hard candy (lemon flavor is best).

Long Term Sativa Side Effects

Anyone using marijuana regularly might be worried about the long-term side effects of the herb. Although many people believe that there are actually long-term health benefits to using weed, there are some risks to consider too.

The most significant danger from long-term cannabis use arises if you consume your bud by smoking. Although not as harmful as tobacco, marijuana can still irritate your throat and lungs and cause conditions such as chronic bronchitis. It is considered much healthier to vape or use edibles instead.

One long-term sativa side effect to watch out for is an increased risk of psychosis or schizophrenia. These serious conditions are more likely to affect people with a predisposition to them or those who start using at a young age. However, it is worth being aware that this is something that could happen, and if you notice any changes in your mental health, consider stopping or switching to a different strain. CBD is believed to mitigate some of this risk, so if you have a pre-existing mood disorder, try a strain which contains a healthy dose of this cannabinoid rather than a high THC content.

Finally, it is worth being aware that both marijuana and CBD can interact with other medications. This is because they are metabolized in the liver by the same enzymes as many other drugs (the CYP450 pathway). If you take any over-the-counter or prescribed medication, talk to your doctor about whether cannabis is safe for you.

Sativa Side Effects: Final Thoughts

Sativa strains are known for their energizing, uplifting, and psychedelic effects. This makes them a great option for recreational users or anyone looking to treat conditions such as depression or fatigue.

However, when taken in excessive amounts, sativa strains could cause anxiety and paranoia, especially if you are a novice and do not know what to expect. The best way to avoid having a bad time on your favorite sativa bud is to be prepared. Create a calm and comfortable environment in which to get high and only use a small amount of any new strain, to begin with.

We hope you found this article informative and that you now know what to expect when you use sativa cannabis strains. Remember always to use responsibly to gain the maximum enjoyment from your weed

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  1. jim
    Helping hand

    I am a new legal grower in va. .Looks like most of your articles are going to help me a lot on answering questions about it. Keep it coming . Hopefully va. will be going legal next year

  2. Rochelle
    Very Interesting.

    I read a previous article about not looking high as hell and I mentioned in my comment about schizophrenia and didn’t know that was actually the case. Is there an article more about this or can you publish one, please. Looking forward to reading more about this.

  3. Damien
    I felt a lot of this stuff.

    I had some days when I just couldn’t sleep after smoking weed. And some days when I was very paranoid. A friend of mine did have some issues with psychosis and we do think it was because of weed. I used to only occasionally smoke but he was a heavy smoker. Not saying that everybody has the same reaction. I have another friend who is a heavier smoker, smoked the whole day everyday, and never had any issues with psychosis or schizophrenia. It’ll be interesting to know why some people react differently.

  4. kimi
    the different's is real

    now i know why when i tried marijuana i sometimes felt light and happy with deep thoughts and with others i felt heavy in the body like it took all my energy to move. thanks now i can suggest to my patient which one will help with his sleep disorder and which will help with his pain and bipolar and how to bring it down to a calming level when taken to much

  5. Cindy
    LOVE to Growers!

    Every flower is a product of her Grower! The same strain from different Growers will flower similarly and distinctly, affecting each consumer individually. Know your Growers!

  6. Sloan
    No Sleep

    This is really good to know! For the longest time I have smoked marijuana to help me sleep but every once in a while I would be up tossing and turning for hours all week. I had no idea that sativa strains could be so uplifting rather than sedative like everyone always thinks! Great info, recommended read.

  7. Robert Baron
    Sativa vs Indica

    Great write up. I have found that Indicas make me more anxious. But Sativas give me that more familiar chill out high.

  8. Pamela McCarthy
    Sativa still gives me unpleasant side effects

    This dominant strain causes me to speed up with my thoughts, get very talkative and speak rapidly. I don’t have ADD, but definitely have this as a side effect. Also I can get super self conscious, think I’m stupid or dumb in the fashion of an insecure adolescent. Sativa dominant strains definitely work for my pain, though. Also g.i. symptoms. Just wish I could find a strain that didn’t have such cerebral and mood issues for me..already balanced with cbd, so IDK.

  9. Melissa Dopp

    Very helpful & informative article. I’m in the process of learning the right strains & dosages to combat chronic pain AND depression & anxiety. The whole process can be a tricky adventure.

  10. Michael L
    Very helpful indeed learned a few things I didn't know before

    Great reading

  11. Maryellen J Joubert
    Strain myself out

    I always thought that weed was weed and that was that, until I tried the mimosa strain! It was in the evening time, and it took about four hours till I was able to get to sleep. Now I pay attention to whether or not it’s indica or sativa so as not to strain myself out.

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