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Indica vs Sativa: Discover the Difference

Bjorn Dawson October 31, 2020 translation missing: en.blogs.counts.comments_with_count


So, you’re curious about the difference between Indica and Sativa?

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 strains are classified as Sativa and Indica, but the majority of them are under the hybrid category. More and more hybrids have been created over many decades of cross breeding strains.

So how are these categories different? How do they affect your high? What and how should you decide between an Indica or a Sativa?

Today, we take a closer examination of each of these iconic plant species, their physical differentiators, and the various effects they provide. Continue reading and we'll walk you through everything you need to know.


Indica was first classified in 1785 after Jean-Baptiste Lamarck described a second type of cannabis from India. Indica grows 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 varieties decrease the user's energy and are known to put the user "in da couch." Because they have higher CBD levels than Sativas, Indica plants are used more often for medical purposes.

Indica dominant cannabis is a short and bushy plant with wide leaves that are dark green, sometimes even showing tints of purple. Indica is 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 is a faster-growing strain that usually flowers between seven to nine weeks. Due to their short yet dense nature, Indica plants are well suited for indoor growing.

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It was biologist Carl Linnaeus who first classified Sativa in 1753. The Sativa plants thrive in warmer equatorial climates, such as Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, and Southeast Asia. Due to the plant's popularity for medicinal and recreational consumption, the plant is grown all over the world.

It's worth pointing out that marijuana is not native to the Americas.

Sativa is 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.

Sativa is a tall plant that has 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 is a taller plant that uses less chlorophyll, it usually takes longer to flower. Typically, it takes between ten and sixteen weeks.


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Ruderalis grows wild in the northern regions of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia. It can grow well in harsher climates with shorter growing seasons.

Ruderalis is a short plant with thick stems. The plant is rugged and has fewer leaves, and it's more of a light green color. The buds are small but still chunky.

This strain has minimal THC content compared to Sativa or Indica. 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 Sativa or Indica. 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.

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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. However, you should start by familiarizing yourself with CBD and THC first. Indica plants are known to have higher levels of CBD, while Sativa strains have higher levels of THC.

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 only contain small amounts of THC and are mainly used by people who are highly sensitive to THC. They're also used by people who are looking to become more clearheaded and get a body high rather then a head high.

Sativa/Indica hybrids contain balanced proportions of Sativa and Indica. 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. 

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 is found at high levels in only a small number of 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. But if you've ever tried strains in the past that were terpinolene-dominant, then you'll likely have noticed that they're similar in effect.

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.


While terpinolene is a common and potent terpene, there are other terpenes that are also worth knowing about. Let's go over them now.

  • Caryophyllene is a spicy, peppery terpene that can improve ulcers, ease symptoms of depression, and reduce anxiety.
  • Myrcene is the most common terpene and can help you reduce insomnia and anxiety so that you can sleep better.
  • Pinene produces a strong pine aroma and can help reduce nausea and pain and also boost memory.
  • Limonene contains bright citrus flavors and is known to reduce stress and improve one's mood.
  • Eucalyptol contains notes of tea tree oil and eucalyptus and can help fight bacteria and reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Bisabolol contains notes of tea tree oil and chamomile and is able to reduce irritation and inflammation.
  • Linalool is known to boost mood and improve relaxation thanks to its floral notes.
  • Humulene is a deeply woody and earthy terpene that can reduce inflammation.
  • Ocimene produces notes of parsley, mango, and bais and can fight off bacteria and viruses and also ease congestion.

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 treat 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, Sative 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, 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 is 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 marijuana, 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 Indica and Sativa varieties of cannabis. 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 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 marijuana.

If you're interested in having more control over the effects you get from marijuana, 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.

If you're interested in growing your own cannabis strains, then contact us today and see how we can help you!

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