Is Sativa An Upper Or Downer?

Is sativa an upper or downer

Is Sativa An Upper Or Downer?

Where does Indica fit into all of this? What about hybrids? 

If you are reading this, you have probably heard of Indica and Sativa. These terms are a part of a current-day classification system for cannabis strains. 

However, the mass breeding of cannabis blurs the lines regarding genetics. Most strains are a hybrid of both and either lean towards Indica or Sativa.

For the most part, an indica usually produces relaxing effects, which are responsible for the ‘couch lock’ phenomena that many associate with THC. Furthermore, Indicas are downers, while Sativas are much more stimulating (upper).  

Then you have hybrids, that either lean one way or the other or are a perfect balance of both effects. 

However, it is essential to consider that these are generalizations. There is much more to the picture regarding the effects cannabis has on us. For example, genetics, environment, and biochemical constituents play a massive role in how cannabis affects us. 

Furthermore, this question may be more complicated than you might think…

Don’t worry, though. We did the research and broke it all down for you below. 

Is Sativa An Upper Or Downer

Is Sativa An Upper Or Downer: What Is An Upper or A Downer In The First Place?

Uppers and downer are informal terms to describe drugs that are stimulants or depressants. 

Let’s break it down.

Stimulants or Uppers

Uppers, or stimulants, increase focus and boost energy levels. An example of this is ADHD medication prescribed by the pharmaceutical industry. Some illegal and dangerous examples of stimulants are cocaine, methamphetamine, and speed. These have detrimental effects on the body and mind and are very addictive. In many cases, these stimulants can lead to overdose, heart attacks, and death.

Here are some of the effects of stimulants:

  • An increase in energy
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • An increase in alertness
  • Increase in dopamine levels (which usually crash, leaving users feeling depleted)

Furthermore, people often abuse these drugs to get instant euphoria and maintain their focus and energy.

Although short-term results can be thrilling or even exhilarating, long-term usage can lead to addiction, dopamine-system disruption, and the inability to feel pleasure.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is not even comparable to these other dangerous stimulants. Sativa strains may cause a boost in energy and leave users feeling stimulated, but there are no severe side effects like with the narcotics listed above.

The only thing to note regarding Sativa strains is that new users can experience anxiety and paranoia. Sativa’s can increase heart rate, leading to stress and even panic attacks in some users.

It is important to note that no one has ever overdosed from THC alone. In comparison, the other pharmaceutical drugs mentioned above have killed many people. 

Depressants or Downers

Downers are depressants, meaning they are on the complete opposite of the spectrum as stimulants. The main difference is that uppers stimulate the mind, while downers or depressants slow down cognitive function.

Depressants have the following effects:

  • Relieving anxiety
  • Inducing sleep
  • Relieving muscle spasms
  • Preventing seizures

Barbiturates are a type of depressant that can be very addictive and usually lead to dependence. Additionally, addiction leads to tolerance, leading to an increase in dosage that can cause comas and death. 

Benzodiazepines are another form of barbiturate that also lead to tolerance and dependence. 

Cannabis, on the other hand, is less dangerous. While it is possible to develop a tolerance/dependency on cannabis, it has much fewer precautions and dangerous side effects. Prolonged cannabis use can have adverse side effects like memory loss and dizziness. 

In addition, using cannabis frequently as a source of dopamine can affect dopamine receptors. This inevitably leads to dependency and an overall decrease in dopamine levels.


Another kind of drug classification includes LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA. These drugs alter your perception of reality and your brain’s nerve messaging, which causes hallucinations.

Hallucinogens are present in plants, and fungi or chemists produce them in a lab. Under the influence of these drugs, people see images, hear sounds or feel sensations that are not there. 

Cannabis is famous for being a mild hallucinogen. However, the effects are not as intense as LSD or psilocybin. They are more subtle and tend to distort time and space when taken in large amounts. 

Additionally, cannabis can affect motor skills and increase heart rate, leading to anxiety and panic.


Examples of opiates are painkillers, fentanyl, morphine, and heroin. They are another class of drugs that the pharmaceutical industry sells to reduce pain. 

Furthermore, opiates are known as the most addictive substances in the world.

They have an extremely high risk of abuse and addiction. Opiates are highly addictive and almost always lead to addiction. 

Additionally, opiates are responsible for the opioid epidemic, which has led to thousands if not millions of overdoses and casualties. 

Cannabis has become an alternative to opiates because of its potent pain relieving effects. Moreover, cannabis can reduce dependence on opiates and lower the risk of addiction. 

The side effects between cannabis and opiates are a question of life or death. However, the latter causes addiction, overdose, and death, while the former has never killed anyone.

Is Sativa An Upper Or Downer? What Is Cannabis?

So what kind of drug is cannabis? Well, first of all, it’s a plant. 

Second of all, it has never caused anyone to overdose. These facts separate it from the dangerous pharmaceuticals we have listed above. 

So, it’s hard to say what cannabis is. Some people call it an herb. 

Cannabis was used in pharmacies across the US and as a staple in people’s medicine cabinets before prohibition. Once upon a time, it was a part of the US Pharmacopeia.

Differing Effects

Additionally, cannabis strains affect everyone differently, depending on various factors. An individual’s metabolism, age, weight, genetics, frequency of use, and more all affect how cannabis feels. 

For example, a Sativa may be stimulating for one person, while it causes intense anxiety and paranoia for the next person.

On the other hand, an Indica may cause intense relaxation for one person, while another may feel stimulated due to the stimulating nature of THC.

There is a lot to understand when it comes to cannabis. Each cannabinoid present in the plant causes different effects. When isolated, they cause other effects than when they stay together. This is the Entourage Effect.

If you want to get technical, cannabis can be a depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogen. It all depends on various factors ranging from the plant’s chemical makeup to an individual’s chemical makeup.

Is sativa an upper or downer

Is Sativa An Upper Or Downer? What’s The Difference Between An Indica and Sativa?

As we briefly cover in the beginning, Sativa and Indica stands for two different classifications of cannabis strains. The former is a stimulant, while the latter is a depressant. 

Hybrids are a balance of Sativa and Indica. Most strains are hybrids. Nowadays, it is difficult to find pure Indica and Sativa.

The consistent breeding of cannabis over the years blurs the lines between the two. So, it’s safe to say that most strains you will encounter are hybrids that simply lean one way or the other.

is sativa an upper or downer?

Is Sativa An Upper Or Downer? The Importance of Terpenes

As we mention above, the chemical constituents of cannabis play a role in the effects.

Terpenes are an example of this.

Furthermore, terpenes are volatile aromatic compounds or essential oils that give cannabis its distinct aromatic profiles. Additionally, terpenes also have medicinal properties that work synergistically with cannabinoids. 

Research is gradually uncovering the therapeutic value of terpenes in whole-flower cannabis products. Full-spectrum products, also known as whole-flower, contain the original chemical profile of the strain, including all natural cannabinoids and flavonoids.

Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in cannabis trichome glands. More research is necessary to determine the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes on the body. However, studies show that terpenes may be able to enhance the medicinal properties of cannabis. 

In addition, terpenes play a considerable role in determining whether a strain is a downer or upper. There are certain terpenes in Sativas that are stimulating, while there are others in Indicas that are sedating. 

The Role Of Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids, just like terpenes, play a role in determining whether a strain is a downer or upper. 

Furthermore, CBD in large doses is a sedative. THC can be a stimulant and eventually turn into a sedative. THC breaks down into CBN, which is a sedative. There are much more cannabinoids, but for the sake of brevity, we will not cover them all here. 

Moreover, the synergistic effect between terpenes and cannabinoids plays a massive role in how a strain will affect someone.

Dosage plays a role here too. Microdosing can relieve anxiety while taking large doses can increase anxiety. 

is sativa an upper

To Conclude

Cannabis is complex. There are many nuances to how it will affect an individual. For the most part, Sativa is an upper, and Indica is a downer.

However, this can all change depending on someone’s physiology, tolerance, the plants’ chemical makeup, and more. 

Consider all the factors discussed above when looking for a strain for you. Think about your tolerance, how THC makes you feel, the potency, and terpene and cannabinoid content.

We hope you enjoyed this article! Share it with someone who needs to know more about how cannabis works.

Check out our cannabis offerings at Sativa University!

Related Articles


Important: Read Carefully

Step One of Two...

Please fill out the form below and we will let you know if any seats open up for this upcoming semester (or when future semester dates are announced) as we currently have no more seats available for hands-on training this semester.

Cannabis College _ Learn Sativa University Logo (2)


Important: Please do not take this next question personally, we are the absolute best at what we do.

This question allows us to provide you with an accurate blueprint for taking your business, cannabis knowledge, and investment portfolio to the next level as quickly (and realistically) as possible.

Be sure to answer the following question precisely.
Cannabis College _ Learn Sativa University Logo (2)


Important: Please do not take this next question personally, we are the absolute best at what we do.

This question allows us to provide you with an accurate blueprint for taking your business, cannabis knowledge, and investment portfolio to the next level as quickly (and realistically) as possible.

Be sure to answer the following question precisely.