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Indica vs. Sativa: Understanding the Different Cannabis Strains

Two words that you’ll often encounter when discussing the topic of cannabis are indica and sativa. These refer to the two different species of the cannabis plant. However, each has intrinsic qualities that not many people know about.

If you plan on using cannabis or are a novice cannabis user, understanding the difference between these two can greatly improve your experience when using them. Read on to find out more about the differences between these two cannabis species.

Consume Cannabis As Part Of A Healthy Lifestyle

What’s the Difference?


Cannabis indica is native to the Hindu Kush mountain region. The plant itself is quite hardy, allowing it to thrive in the harsh and constantly changing environment. This is due to the thick cannabinoid resin that it produces to protect itself. This makes indica well suited for cultivation in more temperate climates as a result.

In terms of looks, indica plants grow to be short and stubby and its leaves can also be described as such. Indica grows quite rapidly as well, making them the ideal choice for indoor cultivators. The plant can grow to about 3 to 6 feet in height and takes between 8 and 9 weeks before it flowers. The yield produced by indica strains is generally higher than those of sativa strains. Well-known indica strains include: Hindu Kush, Ketama, and Afghani.


Cannabis sativa comes from warmer climates like Southeast Asia and Central America. The warm, outdoor environment gives the plant freedom to grow to its full height of around 8 to 12 feet. It is much thinner than the indica when comparing its stock and its leaves.

Its growth time is also slower than the indica – taking as much as 12 to 14 weeks before the plant begins to flower. In its warm climate, sativa buds also have a characteristic reddish hue. When grown in colder climates, the buds tend to have a more purple hue instead. Common sativa strains include: Thai, Panama Red, and Hawaiian.

Application and Effects of Indica and Sativa

Composition-wise, indica has a higher level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to CBD (cannabidiol) ratio compared to sativa. THC is the active chemical compound responsible much of cannabis’ psychoactive effects. CBD, on the other hand, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and has been linked to many therapeutic and medicinal claims associated with medical marijuana.

Because of this, indica tends to have a more potent “full-body” effect on the user. This is helpful for those who are having insomnia or anxiety problems since indica produces a sedative-like effect. It can also act as a pain reliever when used as a medicinal herb.

The intake of sativa has a more stimulating effect on the user. Similar to a strong cup of coffee, the “buzz” received from sativa energizes a person and has strong cerebral effects. Many users look to sativa when using it for recreational means to get that uplifting buzz. In the medical field, sativa has been used to treat depression, ADD, and mood disorders.

In recent years, modern strains of cannabis have been cultured to have more varying percentages of THC and CBD compared to the traditional strains. Recent studies have also indicated that the effects of cannabis are now tied more closely to its terpenes content rather than cannabinoid ratios. Despite this growing trend, there is still much room for understanding when it comes to the consistency of the strain types and their effects.

Indica and sativa strains of cannabis have always been considered the general way of classifying the plant. Each one has its own unique properties and produces different effects upon intake. Understanding the difference between the two is a good way to introduce yourself with how cannabis works and how it can be better experienced as a medicinal and recreational drug.

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