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Will Sativa Strains Induce Anxiety?

Medical marijuana is becoming more and more popular for people interested in a holistic option for relief. If you are tired of suffering from daily debilitating symptoms, medical marijuana might be right for you. Our team of Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians are strategically located all throughout the state so that they are easily accessible for everyone. Book an appointment or take this pre-eligibility survey to see if you might benefit from the relief marijuana offers.

While many people are turning to medical marijuana to combat anxiety, there are a lot of individuals out there that have found themselves getting even more anxious after using it. If you find yourself getting anxious after trying marijuana products, know that you are not alone. Anxiety as a common side effect that is typically associated with sativa strains, but modern day research is showing that it is more complex than that. Not all sativa strains will cause anxiety and some indica plants are known to increase it too. 


Sativas, Hybrids, and Indicas

Choosing the correct strain as a Florida medical marijuana patient is one of the most important aspects of finding the right type of symptom relief. You may notice that they are commonly categorized into three groups: sativas, indicas, and hybrids. These groups are intended to help patients predict the effects of the strains they choose and generally this is what they expect:

  • Sativa strains are uplifting and produce cerebral effects that give energy and makes your mind race
  • Hybrid strains are a balance of sativa and indica effects.
  • Indica strains produce the body euphoria. They are physically sedating and perfect for calming down.

However, those classifications are for describing the physical properties of the cannabis plants themselves, not the effects they give. Together, indica and sativa have been a term in cannabis since the mid-1700s.


In 1753, Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist,  identified cannabis plants as Cannabis sativa in his work Species Plantarum. Then thirty two years later, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was observing the physical characteristics of the plants and found that C. sativa leaves are light and narrow, but there was another similar plant that had wide, dark green leaves. He identified this as Cannabis indica. Almost forty five years later, in 1930, Cannabis ruderalis was discovered by Russian botanist Dmitrij Janischewsky.

It is important to take into account that these terms were created for botanists and not pharmacologists. Botanists use these terms to classify plants on the basis of shared characteristics, not on their effects on the human body. [1] Throughout the years, crossbreeding has dramatically changed the chemical composition of the cannabis plant. As a result, there is really no such thing as a “pure” sativa or indica anymore. The effects of the different plant species probably aligned more with their physical characteristics in the 1700s than they do today. 


The Importance of Terpenes and the Entourage Effect

Most modern cultivars of the cannabis plant are technically hybrids. This is technically a good thing, because hybrids have been bred to produce specific desired qualities and effects. These strain specific effects are produced by the entire plant’s chemical composition. Cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other parts of the plant are what cause both the medicinal relief and the euphoric effects a user will experience. This is otherwise known as the entourage effect. 

The entourage effect is the theory that the entire plant produces more effective relief than isolated cannabinoids do. This synergistic relationship between all of the chemical compounds gives off a different effect than concentrated cannabinoids do. The dominant cannabis compound, THC, is just one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Each strain has its own cannabinoid profile and accompanying effect. 

One of the main components besides cannabinoids like THC and CBD are terpenes. These essential oils are organic compounds responsible for a plant’s flavors and aromas and can be found all throughout nature. They help determine how a strain affects each individual. When the terms indica and sativa were established, we did not have a full understanding on how important terpenes were to the overall effects of a given cultivar.

Although hundreds of different terpenes have been found in the cannabis species, only a few of them are sufficiently present. The four most prominent terpenes in cannabis are:

  • Myrcene: This terpene has the signature “earthy” smell found in most cannabis strains Similar to several other cannabis compounds, myrcene may be an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. [2] [3]
  • Caryophyllene: In addition to cannabis, this terpene is found in hops, cloves, and rosemary. It also has an herbal scent that is similar to these plants. Like myrcene, caryophyllene has both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. [4]
  • Limonene: This citrus smelling terpene can be found in both cannabis and common citrus fruits. Limonene can potentially boost the immune system, alleviate heartburn symptoms, and even be used to help dissolve gallstones rich in cholesterol. [5] [6]
  • Terpinolene:Terpinolene has a fresh herbal-citrus aroma, and is commonly found in plants such as rosemary, lilacs, and apples. Human studies have shown that terpinolene is a potential antioxidant, has sedative properties, and might be used to decrease cell proliferation associated with cancer. [7] [8] [9]

Combatting Anxiety Caused by Marijuana

The best thing you can do to prevent getting anxious from new strains is to always start low and go slow. This allows you to ease into the effects of the strain without finding yourself getting overwhelmed. If you do find yourself getting anxious from a new product, it does not mean cannabis is not meant for you, but it can mean that a specific terpene doesn’t agree with you.

Realizing that you are in the midst of an anxiety attack caused by cannabis is the first step of being able to calm yourself down. This self awareness makes you able to identify the problem at hand in order to fix it. The next best thing you can do for yourself is to stop and begin taking deep breaths. Stepping outside for a few minutes or taking a quick shower can also be a big help.

Next, try eating or drinking something. This will have an instant effect on the chemicals in your bloodstream. What you eat or drink is also very important. Try drinking a glass of lemonade or eating a piece of fresh mango. These are full of beneficial terpenes, just like cannabis, and can calm any anxiety. 


Combat Anxiety with These Strains 

If you are worried about trying marijuana because of the potential anxiety it can cause, consider starting off with these strains that are available in Florida:

  • ACDC: ACDC is an energetic marijuana strain that also has a high CBD level. It is one of the most medically beneficial hybrid strains and is known for its mild and clear-headed effects. It is used to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and chronic pain.

Available at: MUV, Columbia Care

  • Otto: This strain is another high yielding CBD strain that is a cross between FSL 1-3 & Nepali Hashplant. It makes a user feel relaxed, happy, sleepy, euphoric, and talkative, all while combating inflammation, pain, spasms, stress, and headaches.

Available at: RISE

  • Remedy is a strain that is high in CBD and low in THC. It is a cross between Afghan Skunk and Cannatonic. Because of it’s high CBD percentages in this strain, it has a relatively mild effect that washes away pain and anxiety.

Available at: Trulieve

  • Granddaddy Purple is a high THC strain whose lineage is a cross between Purple Urkle and Big Bud. It makes users sleepy, euphoric, happy, relaxed, and hungry. It is good for chronic pain, lack of appetite, stress, anxiety, and insomnia.

Available at: Columbia Care, Curaleaf, Surterra, Fluent, MedMen, Trulieve

  • Northern Lights was constructed from the genetics of Afghani and Thai strains, but takes on the heavy properties of Afghani. It is reported that it makes users feel happy, sleepy, hungry, focused, and offers light pain relief as well as anxiety relief.

Available at: MedMen, MUV, Trulieve

Choosing the Best Marijuana Strain for You

Now that you have an understanding of how marijuana is way more than just an indica or sativa, you have the knowledge you need to find the strain that will work for your individual needs. Rather than asking a budtender if a strain is one or the other, ask them how they might make you feel. While everyone will experience the strain differently, an experienced budtender will be able to outline what you might be able to expect. 

Just remember to start low, go slow, and listen to your body. 

[1] https://weedmaps.com/learn/the-plant/difference-between-indica-sativa


[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/037887419190187I

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24210682/

[5] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1081/IPH-120020476

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/790944/

[7] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711305000346

[8] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11418-012-0732-1

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22740904/

[10] https://weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/ruderalis/

[11] https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/84235#page/5/mode/1up