What is Sativa?

February 8, 2019

Cannabis Sativa

For centuries, the cannabis plant has been cultivated by man and used for different purposes. Though there are lots of regulations surrounding the plant in different parts of the world, it remains one of the most popular plants.


What is Cannabis Sativa?

Cannabis sativa is an annual herbaceous flowering plant that is native to eastern Asia. Due to its multipurpose application, the plant and its derived products enjoy cosmopolitan distribution and widespread cultivation. Compared to cannabis indica (another strain of the cannabis plant), cannabis sativa takes longer to grow into maturity. It also grow taller, reaching a height of about 20 feet. The leaves and flowers of the plant are unique in shape. It has long, thin foliage and long, cylindrical buds. The plant also grows better in warm, tropical climate with a humid atmosphere.   

Cannabis sativa has been cultivated throughout history and used for different purposes. It can be used for food, medicine, industrial fiber, seed oil, and recreation. It is also used by some people for religious and spiritual purposes. Depending on what the plant is specifically going to be used for, the parts are harvested differently. While those that grow the plant for the seed oil are interested in the seed, those that want to use it for recreational purposes majorly go for the flowers and the leaves.


Chemical Constituents of Cannabis Sativa

As a special plant, cannabis sativa contains more than 500 compounds. The most important of these compounds are called cannabinoids. The most important cannabinoids are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). These are the major compounds that gives the plant its health benefits and ability to cause high. The rest are produced in trace and are considered less significant. There are hundreds of other chemical compounds in cannabis sativa including proteins, enzymes, simple acids, fatty acids, lactones, simple ketones, and non-cannabinoid phenols, hydrocarbons, sugars, steroids, flavonoids, nitrogenous compounds, and amino acids.


Uses of Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis sativa is used in different ways and we will summarize the uses in terms of industrial and personal use:

Industrial Use

The seed of cannabis sativa is one of the most important parts when it comes to industrial application of the plant. The seed is majorly used to make hempseed oil which are in turn used for several purposes including cooking, lamps, lacquers, paints, and for hair care products. The seeds are also sold as feed for caged-birds as they contain relevant nutrients. Cannabis sativa is also used in the pharmaceutical and the construction sector. Its metabolites show potent bio-diversities on human health and its outer and inner stem tissues can be used to make bio-plastic and concrete-like material.

Personal Uses of Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis sativa is widely used for personal purposes even though its cultivation, marketing, and use are highly regulated across the globe. The parts that are mostly used by individuals are the flowers and the leaves. These parts contain the cannabinoids in abundance. THC is a highly psychoactive compound that cause high. It is the major reason cannabis is widely consumed for recreational, medicinal, and spiritual purposes. Preparation of the flowers (commonly called marijuana) is popular throughout the globe and is consumed by smoking, vaporizing, and oral ingestion. Different parts of the cannabis sativa plant can also be consumed through tinctures, teas, and ointments.


Medicinal uses of cannabis sativa

The cannabis plant has been historically used for medicinal purposes in different parts of the world. In some places, the use of the plant for health-related issues dates back to centuries before modern science. In traditional medicine of India, for instance, cannabis sativa has been widely used for its sedative, hallucinogenic, analgesic, hypnotic, and anti-inflammatory properties. While it is steadily gaining recognition in modern medicine, there are still lots of debate about its efficacy and safety as a medical substance. The issues of abuse, regulations, and illegal use has also influenced the way cannabis is used for medicinal purposes.

There are lots of medical conditions that can be treated with cannabis sativa and the substances derivable from it like CBD oil and THC. The popular indications include:

  • Seizure and epilepsy

Cannabis has been found to be very potent in the treatment of spontaneous seizures in epilepsy. There are some forms of recurrent and unprovoked seizures resulting from brain injury or heredity that are difficult to treat. Different studies have found cannabis can help to manage them.  

  • Cancer

There are recent studies that have shown that cannabis sativa and its derivatives can be very helpful in the management of cancer. According to an article in civilized.com, cannabinoids play an active role in key signaling pathways that are involved in cell survival, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis.

  • Pain

THC and CBD are both very effective in pain management. Cannabis has been used as analgesic even in ancient therapeutic Arabic medicine so the potency of the plant and its derivative in the management of pain cannot be disputed. Modern medicine has also recognized this and medical marijuana is popular as alternative to regular painkillers.

  • Other conditions

There are several other medical conditions that can be managed with cannabis sativa such as glaucoma, migraines, spasm and movement disorders, asthma, sleep disorders, reactive depression conditions among others.


Cannabis sativa is a very important plant with lots of untapped potentials. Thanks to reforms in government policies in many countries, the legal issues surrounding the use of the plant are being resolved. There are also lots of ongoing studies to unravel other important properties of the plant. It is clear that humans have not fully taken advantage of all that the cannabis plant offers and a lot can change with time.