The current climatic and economic scenario pushes toward the use of sustainable resources to reduce our dependence on petrochemicals and to minimize the impact on the environment. Plants are precious natural resources, because they can supply both phytochemicals and lignocellulosic biomass. In this review, we focus on hemp (Cannabis sativa L.), since it is a source of fibers, oil and molecules and as such it is an emblematic example of a multi-purpose crop. We treat the aspects related to the use of hemp biomass and, more extensively, those linked to its wide variety of phytochemical
The final scope of this review is to discuss the potential of hemp for industry and to highlight its importance for the bio-economy. More specifically, we: (i) describe the use of hemp biomass (i.e., the fibers), (ii) discuss hemp molecules of industrial interest (namely cannabinoids, terpenes and phenolic compounds), (iii) describe the potential of hemp trichomes as pharma-factories and (iv) discuss the potential of genetic engineering, by describing the use of plant cell suspension and hairy root cultures.
At the risk of stepping too far off from our original goal with this article, we’ll first have to understand why the specification between Sativa and Indica benefits exists at all. It’s fairly common knowledge that cannabis flower is split up into two main categories; Sativa and Indica.
What Is Sativa?
To the consumer, both sativa and indica are heavily associated with their perceived effect profiles. Most cannabis users will hear the term sativa and think of an energizing, uplifting, and cerebral experience.
The industry uses this association as a way to market sativa and indica cultivars, and thousands of other cannabis products. But the effects we typically associate with sativa aren’t always produced by sativa plants, nor do indicas always deliver indica-like effects. In fact, effects share no connection with the physical structure of today’s cannabis plants.The terms sativa and indica are far more useful for cultivators than for consumers. In cultivation, sativa is commonly used to describe a plant’s morphology, or physical characteristics, during growth. Sativas tend to be taller than indicas and have long, thin leaves, while indicas are much shorter and contain broad, short leaves. Sativas also take much longer to mature during the flowering stage, with flowering times of up to 100 days.
The term sativa is a derivative of the Latin botanical adjective sativum, meaning cultivated. The earliest recorded usage of sativa as a cannabis term comes from English herbalist William Turner’s The Names of Herbes (1548), in which Cannabis sativa is the scientific name given to cultivated hemp.
Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus ascribed the name C. sativa to what he considered the only species of the genus Cannabis in 1753. Thirty-two years later, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck identified Cannabis indica as a separate species from Cannabis sativa, arguably cementing the foundation of our current sativa/indica taxonomy.
Lamarck primarily based his C. indica classification on physical differences from Linnaeus’s C. sativa plant, including narrow, dark green leaves and denser branching. He also noted that C. indica was a more potent inebriant than C. sativa, marking the earliest instance of relating the plant’s effects to its type.
The shift from the Linnaeus’ C. sativa and Lamarck’s C. indica to our current definition of sativa and indica came in 1974 when American biologist Richard Evans Schultes applied the term C. indica to cannabis plants in Afghanistan. Schultes’ C. indica classification ended up having a huge impact on the development of our modern-day indica/sativa taxonomy, tying the indica variety to a distinct geographic origin. This would later be emulated by Loran C. Anderson, who designated Afghan plants as C. indica and Indian plants as C. sativa.
Today, we reserve the sativa label for plants that share common physical profiles. Most countries only recognize one species, Cannabis sativa, and it remains highly debated whether indica is a subspecies. Meanwhile, the marketplace still recognizes two varieties, sativa and indica.
Enhances Your Creativity
It feels a bit unfair with Indica strains to have this one as number one in the list. On a personal level, I’ve had some of the most creative mind-blowing thoughts on Indica strains. However, Indicas tend to put me to bed, that might be something that happens specifically with my body but overall, it has shown to be the tendency. Sleepiness is not necessarily the type of feeling you want when trying to get some creative work done.
That’s where Sativa comes in. Most Sativas will have you alert and cleaning your apartment at 2 am, at least in my case. Being alert is something you might prefer when it comes to getting some work done, whether that’s painting, sculpting, or writing.
Boosts Your Motivation
Based on Sativa’s usual euphoric and uplifting effects, we can safely say that motivation is not something that lacks when smoking a fluffly sativa bud. In my personal experience Sativa manages to keep me motivated because of the paranoid side effects it often comes with. I’ve found that the more paranoid I feel, the more motivated I get.
The Real Cure for Social Awkwardness
You’re probably speaking to the “king of awkward” here. Sometimes when anxiety is a major variable in your life, it tends to poison your mind and in my personal case, my relationships. Anxiety can stay at ‘just anxiety’, or it can impact other major parts of your life and ultimately affect self-confidence.
When self-confidence comes into the picture is when the social awkwardness begins. With Sativa flower confidence tends to be boosted because it often enhances your creativity and thus your social interactions become happier, almost as if it were easier through navigate a conversation. Not to mention that depending on the strain you’re consuming you might be subject to a case of the “giggles”, which is always fun when interacting with a peer.
An Uplifting Anxiety Aid
We already touched on this one briefly on the last item but let’s break it down a bit. Due to its trademarked uplifting and euphoric effects, Sativa strains can be a substance with powerful anti-anxiety properties. Granted, Indicas can also aid with anxiety management, but I find Indicas to be particularly body-numbing. Which is good when you feel like calling it a day, but if you want to make the best of your day, go hiking, jogging, or whatever it is; Sativas are probably a better idea.
Forget About Starving
This one’s not particularly unique to Sativa strains, but with a nice Sativa bud you’ll at least ensure you’re awake by the time the munchies kick in. Although it takes a bold character to say no to a packet of Oreos when high, it also takes a miracle to open up your appetite when hunger just doesn’t seem to be kicking in.
Drunk-like Euphoria Without The Hangover
I like to describe my favorite “high state” as a “tipsy high”. When smoking Sativa flower it’s quite common to perceive effects of euphoria, which on its own sounds like something you’d never like to feel, but if the day ahead will keep you busy then there’s nothing like it, trust me.
Euphoria is actually defined as a feeling of extreme excitement and happiness, which by definition is definitely something you want to feel. However, if you suffer from anxiety it might be a good idea to look for a Sativa strain that provides mild euphoria, otherwise you might find yourself in a fidget frenzy that seems to have no end.
Day n’ Night
Sativas are usually recommended for daytime use, however, this is a grave misconception. Even though euphoria is a common effect of Sativas, it doesn’t need to be intense. Some hybrids offer a convenient balance between chill and intensity. Just make sure to pick your strains right and you should be fine when consuming Sativa strains any time of day.
Relief of chronic pain
There are hundreds of chemical compounds in cannabis, many of which are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids have been linked to providing relief of chronic pain due to their chemical makeup. Which is why cannabis’ by-product such as medical cannabis is commonly used for chronic pain relief.
Improves lung capacity
Unlike smoking cigarettes, when smoking cannabis in the form of cannabis your lungs aren’t harmed. In fact, a study found that cannabis actually helps increase the capacity of the lungs rather than cause any harm to it.
Help lose weight
If you look around, you will notice that the avid cannabis user is usually not overweight. That is because cannabis is linked to aiding your body in regulating insulin while managing caloric intake efficiently.
Regulate and prevent diabetes
With its impact on insulin, it only makes sense that cannabis can help regulate and prevent diabetes. Research conducted by the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) has linked cannabis to stabilise blood sugars, lower blood pressure, and improve blood circulation.
One of the biggest medical benefits of cannabis is its link to fighting cancer. There is a good amount of evidence that shows cannabinoids can help fight cancer or at least certain types of it.
Helps treat depression
Depression is fairly widespread without most people even knowing they have it. The endocannabinoid compounds in cannabis can help in stabilising moods which can ease depression.
Shows promise in autism treatment
Cannabis is known to calm users down and control their mood. It can help children with autism that experience frequent violent mood swings control it.
Research conducted on CBD has shown that it can help control seizures. There are ongoing studies to determine the effect cannabis has on individuals with epilepsy.
Cannabidiol has been linked to helping heal broken bones, quickening the process. According to Bone Research Laboratory in Tel Aviv, it also helps strengthen the bone in the process of healing. This makes it tougher for the bone to break in the future.
Helps with ADHD/ADD
Individuals with ADHD and ADD have trouble focusing on tasks at hand. They tend to have problems with cognitive performance and concentration. Cannabis has shown promise in promoting focus and helping individuals with ADHD/ADD. It is also considered a safer alternative to Adderall and Ritalin.
Treatment for glaucoma
Glaucoma leads to additional pressure on the eyeball which is painful for individuals with the disorder. Cannabis can help reduce the pressure applied on the eyeball providing some temporary relief to individuals with glaucoma.
While Cannabis is commonly known to cause anxiety, there is a way around that. Taken in monitored dosage and in the proper way, cannabis can help alleviate anxiety and calm users down.
Slow development of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is one of many that is caused by cognitive degeneration. As we age, cognitive degeneration is almost unavoidable. Cannabis’s endocannabinoid contains anti-inflammatories that fight the brain inflammation that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.
Deal with pain linked to arthritis
Cannabis is now commonly found as creams and balms which are used by individuals that have arthritis. Both THC and CBD help sufferers deal with the pain.
Helps with PTSD symptoms
PTSD doesn’t just affect veterans but any individual that goes through a trauma. As cannabis is legalised the impact it has on helping treat individuals with PTSD is being studied. Cannabis helps control the fight or flight response, preventing it from going into overdrive.
Helps provide relief to individuals with multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis can be painful, and cannabis is known to provide relief for it. Multiple sclerosis leads to painful muscle contractions and cannabis can help reduce that pain.
Reduces side effects linked to hepatitis C and increase the effectiveness of treatment
The treatment for hepatitis C has numerous side effects that include nausea, fatigue, depression, and muscle aches. These can last for months for some hepatitis C sufferers. Cannabis can help reduce the side effects caused by the treatment while making it more effective at the same time.
Treats inflammatory bowel diseases
Individuals with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can find some relief with the use of cannabis. THC and cannabidiol are known to help enhance immune response while also interact with cells that play a vital role in the functioning of the gut. Cannabis helps block off bacteria and other compounds that cause inflammation in the intestines.
Helps with tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease
For those that have Parkinson’s disease cannabis can help reduce tremors and pain while also helping promote sleep. It has also shown to improve motor skills in patients.
Helps with alcoholism
Another one of the many health benefits of cannabis is that there is no doubt cannabis is much safer than alcohol. While it may not be 100% risk-free, it can be a smarter way to curb alcoholism by substituting it with cannabis.
Research has not yet caught up to the wealth of cannabis varieties in circulation today. Terpene and cannabinoid profiles are becoming more prominent in product marketing as the average cannabis consumer becomes more educated about the complex nature of the cannabis plant — and more sophisticated in their purchasing choices as a result.
As Dr. Ethan Russo explains, predicting the effects of a cannabis cultivar requires us to “quantify the biochemical components of a given Cannabis strain and correlate these with the observed effects in real patients.” If a cultivar delivers sativa-like effects, it will have more to do with terpene content than plant structure or possibly cannabinoid content. For example, cultivars high in limonene, whether sativa or indica, are very likely to facilitate an uplifted mood.
The terms sativa and indica are far more valuable for cultivators than they are for consumers. Until we collectively develop a new taxonomy to give consumers a better idea of what effects they’re signing up for, it’s important to remember that sativa plants are not guaranteed to produce sativa-like effects.