When someone suffering from a chronic illness decides to turn to medical marijuana for physical and emotional respite, he might be surprised to find that an array of green-leaved options awaits. Three main categories define most cannabis strains—indica, sativa, and hybrid (a combination of the first two categories)—though the number of specific sub-species of marijuana probably stretches into the thousands. The type of plant that a patient chooses depends on the symptoms with which he is struggling and the nature of the relief that he desires. If he is seeking a lift out of the doldrums, a stimulating and energizing pick-me-up, then the sativa strain would prove the best route to holistic self-healing.
Cannabis sativa grows fast and tall in the tropical weather of nations such as Mexico, Colombia, and Thailand. These lithe plants sprout slender, light-green leaves, and can reach heights of 20 feet. Their growth cycle usually takes anywhere from 10-16 weeks. Of all of the cannabinoids, or chemicals present in marijuana that trigger psychoactive responses in the brain, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is most prevalent in the sativa plant. THC fits together with nerve cell receptors in the brain to provoke the release of dopamine, a hormone that induces euphoria. Increased creativity, stamina, and perceptiveness are additional outcomes of taking sativa due to the high levels of THC. On the other hand, unlike indica, sativa is low in cannabidiol (CBD). CBD provides more medical benefits, such as alleviation from pain, antioxidant properties, and anti-psychotic effects. While indica’s pungent and sour odor suggests the drug’s power to heal physical ailments, the often fruity, flowery scent and taste of sativa seem to reflect its invigorating and inspiring qualities. Popular sativa strains these days include Durban Poison, Jack Herer, and Purple Power.
Any mood-enhancer can soothe stress, leading to a more positive outlook and increased motivation to enjoy life. Sativa can help a patient find the humor in the most ordinary of daily routines, the brilliance and intrigue in a place that he has visited dozens of times. It combats the confusion of ADD, and cranks down anxiety. It can transform a reserved personality into a Chatty Cathy. Though sativa can cause a loss of appetite, too, many users feel that the drug’s ability to reverse feelings of depression far outshines this drawback. Those who want to wash away the more literal aches and pains associated with cancer treatments, migraines, anorexia, bronchitis, and arthritis should try indica. Those who prefer to battle their conditions with an intense cerebral high—one that ignites the imagination, massages the spirit, and brings everything into colorful clarity—will find a loyal friend in sativa.