So, you're curious about the difference between Indica and Sativa Cannabis?
Maybe you want to know the different type of highs you'll get from an Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid strain. Whether you're growing cannabis or buying it, there's value in knowing what you're consuming depending on your end goal. Do you want to get super baked? Do you want a CBD dominant strain? Or are you looking for a healthy balance of all of the above?
There are thousands of known cannabis strains out there. Some of these are classified as Sativa dominant or Indica dominant, but the majority of them are under the hybrid strain category. More and more hybrid strains have been created over many decades due to cross breeding.
So how are Indica, Sativa, Ruderalis and Hybrid strains different? How do they affect your high? What and how should you decide between an Indica or Sativa?
Today, we take a closer examination of each of these iconic cannabis plants, their physical differentiators, and the various effects they provide. Continue reading and we'll walk you through everything you need to know.
The Basics: Comparing Sativa vs Indica
Both Indica and Sativa are in the genus Cannabaceae, meaning they are both similar.
Sativa strains are generally described as being more of a "head high" and can help with creativity/ focus. Indica strains are generally described as being a pain- reliever, sedative, and an appetite stimulant. However, experts say we should not broadly classify the plants as having these effects, as there is little scientific evidence.
Indica was first classified in 1785 after Jean-Baptiste Lamarck described a second type of cannabis from India. Indica strains grow best in the high altitude and cool temperatures of the Hindu Kush mountain range. This includes regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, India, and Nepal.
Indica is often referred to as a nighttime favorite and is mainly used for relaxing. Indica strains decrease the user's energy and are known to put the user "in da couch", also known as a "body high". Because Indica's commonly have higher CBD levels than Sativa's, Indica strains are used more often for medical purposes.
Indica dominant cannabis strains are a short and bushy plant with wide leaves that are dark green, sometimes even showing tints of purple. Indica plants are darker in color thanks to the fact that it has higher amounts of chlorophyll. The buds of this plant grow in clusters and are heavy and fragrant.
Indica strains are faster-growing and usually flowers between seven to nine weeks. Due to their short yet dense nature, Indica plants are well suited for indoor growing.
It was biologist Carl Linnaeus who first classified Sativa in 1753. The Sativa strains thrive in warmer equatorial climates, such as Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, and Southeast Asia. Due to the popularity for medicinal and recreational consumption, cannabis is grown all over the world. It's worth pointing out that marijuana is not native to the Americas. However, in temperate regions cannabis can only be grown in the summer, unless you grow indoors!
Sativa strains are best known for having uplifting effects. This is due to the fact that it tends to have higher THC levels, which encourage a "head high." The user's brain activity is stimulated, and their senses are heightened as well.
The effects of Sativa can lead to enhanced creativity, productivity, and relief from depression. Do you find you get more creative after smoking a sativa dominant strain? Let us know in the comments below!
Sativa plants are tall and have a loosely branched body. Its leaves are long and thin, and are lighter green in color. The buds of the Sativa plant are light, airy, and long.
Because Sativa plants are taller and uses less chlorophyll, it usually takes longer to flower. Typically, it takes between ten and sixteen weeks.
Ruderalis grows wild in the northern regions of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia. It can grow well in harsher climates with shorter growing seasons.
The Ruderalis plant is short with thick stems, contains fewer leaves, appears a lighter green color and is rugged. The buds on this cannabis strain are small but still chunky.
This strain has minimal THC content compared to Indica or Sativa strains. However, the cool thing about this strain is that they're classified as ‘Autos' (automatic flowering).
An auto-flower strain starts to flower and produce buds based on its age, rather than how long the light and dark periods are. Because of this, breeders often breed Ruderalis with Sativa and Indica strains to create auto-flowering hybrids that reach the flowering stage faster.
Not all strains will be either Indica dominant or Sativa dominant. In fact, most aren't 100% of either.
Breeders will mix and breed different strains together to highlight specific traits that they are most excited about. Some cannabis plants have been selected to lean more towards either Sativa or Indica (e.g. 75% Sativa with 25% Indica). But many are a perfect split of 50% Sativa and 50% Indica.
Now that we understand the basic differences between the different types of cannabis strains, it's time to dive deeper. Continue reading and we'll explore what is going on at a chemical level that actually causes different effects in varying cannabis strains.
The Cannabis Sativa plant is made up of hundreds of chemical compounds. The two most potent and most common of these compounds are CBD and THC. These are the main drivers of cannabis' recreational and therapeutic effects.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound that's non-intoxicating. It's known to alleviate inflammation, pain, and anxiety, as well as many other medical issues.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is what's responsible for the classic "marijuana high." It can make you feel hungry, relaxed but it can also alleviate symptoms like nausea and pain.
Cannabis produces many different cannabinoids. Indica strains are known to have higher levels of CBD, while Sativa strains have higher levels of THC. However, this is not always the case.
A strain that's Sativa-dominant is best for people who are looking to have a potent and euphoric experience. Sativa is also chosen by consumers to treat insomnia, anxiety, depression, pain, and more.
Indica-heavy strains are commonly used by people who are looking to become more clearheaded and get a body high rather then a head high.
Indica or Sativa hybrids can contain balanced proportions of Indica and Sativa. This offers symptom relief alongside mild euphoria. These strains tend to be best for people who want to get high but still want to have mental clarity. We like to call it the best of both worlds.
If you've ever undergone any sort of aromatherapy to invigorate or relax your body and mind, then you should already understand the basics of terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are usually produced in fruit and plants. They can be found in oranges, pepper, lavender flowers, hops, cannabis + many more.
Terpenes are created by the same glands that produce CBD and THC. They're the compounds that make cannabis smell and taste like citrus, fuel, berries, pine, etc. The glands that produce the terpenes are called trichomes. many other plants also have trichomes such as pineapples, and many carnivorous plants.
When it comes to energizing or sedating effects, terpenes appear to be a major contributor. Don't skip out of on reading about the terpenes in your next weed purchase! They have many therapeutic effects and may correlate with what you find the most tasty strain to consume!
One well-known kind of terpene is terpinolene. This terpene is found in small amounts in many cannabis strains. Most of those strains are either Hybrids or Sativas. Some terpinolene-heavy strains that you've probably seen or heard of include Jack Herer, Ghost Train Haze, Dutch Treat, and Golden Goat. With that said, most Sativa strains are not terpinolene-heavy.
This gives the impression that strains with similar terpene and CBD combinations might offer more reliable consistency in effects.
The profiles of terpenes also help us to better understand the potential variations within each cannabis variety.
Now that we better understand the chemical compounds, let's go over some of the most popular strains and how they differ.
Cannabis strains vary by many different factors. When it has to do with Indica vs Sativa, the variables are mainly about how they can treat certain ailments and how they make you feel.
- Acapulco Gold is a Sativa-dominant strain that's used to combat pain, nausea, stress, and fatigue.
- Blue Dream is a Hybrid that treats cramps, insomnia, PTSD, pain, insomnia, and mental fog.
- Purple Kush is an Indica-dominant strain that can be used to treat chronic pain, insomnia, and muscle spasms.
- Sour Diesel is a Sativa that combats fatigue, acute pain, anxiety, stress, mental fog, and anxiety.
- Bubba Kush is an Indica strain that can treat acute pain, low appetite, insomnia, nausea, and PTSD.
- Granddaddy Purple is an Indica variety that can treat restless leg syndrome, low appetite, and insomnia.
- Afghan Kush is an Indica that has a high 6% CBD content and can treat low appetite, insomnia, and acute pain.
- LA Confidential is an Indica that can treat inflammation, stress, and pain.
- Maui Waui is a Sativa that's used for depression and fatigue.
While these strains focus on many of the same ailments, Sativa strains still tend to give the user more energy than Indica ones.
How to Choose the Right Strain for You
When you're looking to find the right strain of cannabis for you whether its Indica, Sativa or a Hybrid, it's important to consider some of the following...
1. What kind of effect are you trying to achieve?
What you want to feel will help you narrow down your options. If you're at a dispensary, talk to the employee about what your goals for cannabis use are.
Let them know if you're trying to increase your energy, treat insomnia, or reduce your anxiety.
2. What is your tolerance?
It's important that you understand your tolerance. Some strains, such as Pineapple Express, are considered to be "entry-level." The effects of these kinds of strains tend to be tolerable and mild.
Strains that have higher concentrations of cannabinoids, especially THC, might be too potent for new users.
3. Medical History
Although cannabis is a natural plant, it can still cause intense effects. Before you try it, you should consider any possible interactions with current medications or medical conditions that you have. If you are unsure of how to incorporate cannabis into your lifestyle, check in with your family doctor!
If you vape or smoke cannabis, you will likely feel the effects more quickly. But it can also irritate your airway and lungs. Food, gummies, and tinctures might be easier to tolerate, although they usually aren't as potent.
Check out this QUIZ to determine which strain may be best for you!
Understanding the Importance of Indica Vs Sativa
As we can see from the above, there are clear differences between Sativa vs Indica cannabis stains. While this may appear overwhelming to some, it should also come as a relief. Even if you find one or several different varieties of cannabis that you don't enjoy, there are still hundreds or more out there that are varied enough to suit practically any tolerance and taste.
For beginners, it's generally recommended to start with an Indica strain or more CBD-dominant strains. This is because high levels of THC can be very intense, especially for new users. If you ingest too much THC, it's possible to become paranoid and anxious, which isn't something that anybody wants when they consume cannabis.
If you're interested in having more control over the effects you get from cannabis, then you should consider growing your own.
At Grobo, we offer an automatic grow box. We use deep water culture, a hydroponic technique, to grow the plants. All you have to do is simply add your plant, pick a grow recipe in our app, and then let the system handle the rest!
Although Grobo doesn't eliminate the smell of the cannabis completely, it can significantly reduce any odors for maximum discretion. And with Grobo, you can grow 2-3 ounces every 3-4 months. You can also grow from clones or seeds. We recommend growing from seed!
And if you want to learn more, you can check out tons of educational videos on our YouTube channel as well! And even though we mainly focus on growing cannabis, our products can be used to grow other plants too, such as tomatoes or peppers!