A weed plant is just a weed plant, right?
To someone new to recreational cannabis, it’s easy to see marijuana as simply a plant. However, not all plants grow equally which creates a number of wonderful cannabis varieties!
The two most popular species of cannabis are known as Sativa and Indica – and their therapeutic benefits can be vastly different.
To understand the differences between Indica and Sativa, it’s important to first understand the differences between CBD and THC. Let’s start with a crash course in cannabinoids before looking at the differences between these strains and which one you should choose:
A Crash Course in Cannabinoids
Cannabis plants contain two main cannabinoids: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC and CBD create different effects on the human body, with CBD promoted a sensation of relaxation and THC contributing to feeling high.
Overall, THC causes psychoactive effects that can make you feel intoxicated. This compound found in the cannabis plant may be beneficial to those who deal with pain, sleep issues, and depression. However, too much THC can cause anxiety and paranoia.
CBD, on the other hand, can affect mood without creating a high and be helpful in addressing anxiety. It can also be used to calm chronic pain.
Knowing the differences between these two cannabinoids is helpful in understanding the differences between Sativa strains and Indica strains.
Physical Differences Between Indica and Sativa
When it comes to comparing these two types of cannabis strains, there are notable physical differences used to identify each.
Indica plants are shorter, have a woody stalk, and grow faster than Sativa plants. Sativa plants are taller and have a fibrous stalk.
The physical differences between these two strains may be caused by breeding different varieties but they can also be caused by evolution and geographic isolation.
What is Indica?
Indica was first classified in 1785 when Jean-Baptiste Lamarck described a type of cannabis from India (hence the name!). Indica strains grow in high altitudes and cooler temperatures and were found in the Hindu Kush mountain range – which includes regions of Pakistan, Morocco, India, Nepal, and Afghanistan.
Cannabis Indica grows as short and bushy plants with wide leaves that are dark green in color. Sometimes the leaves have a slight tint of purple. Indica plants are darker in color due to their higher amounts of chlorophyll.
Indica buds grow in heavy and fragrant clusters and usually flower between 7-9 weeks. Because the Indica plant is short and dense, they are easy to grow indoors.
As far as effects go, Indica is often referred to as “in da couch” (get it?) because it creates intense relaxing and sedating effects – also known as a “body high”. It also has higher CBD levels than Sativa strains so it is used more often for its medicinal benefits and therapeutic effects.
What is Sativa?
In 1753, biologist Carl Linnaeus classified cannabis Sativa, which thrives in warmer climates such as Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, and Southeast Asia.
Sativa plants grow tall and have loosely branched bodies with long, thin leaves. They are lighter in color than the Indica plant with airy and long buds. Because they are taller and use less chlorophyll, Sativa plants take longer to flower – anywhere between 10-16 weeks.
Whereas the Indica strain promotes deep relaxation, Sativa is best known for having uplifting effects due to its higher levels of THC. This encourages a “head high” where your brain activity is stimulated and your senses are heightened.
Cannabis consumers tend to lean toward the Sativa cannabis strain to enhance creativity, improve productivity, and find relief from depression.
Now that you know the differences between Sativa and Indica, it’s important to note that not all strains are 100% one or the other! After generations of crossbreeding, it is rare to find pure Indica or pure Sativa strains.
What you will commonly find are cannabis products and strains that are Indica-dominant, Sativa-dominant, or a combination of both.
Marijuana breeders will also mix different strains together to highlight certain traits of each – these are known as hybrid strains. The effects you experience from using hybrid strains depend on the combination of parent strains used. This blog article explains the entourage effect of CBD and THC.
Which Strain Should You Choose?
The marijuana strain you use depends entirely upon your goals for cannabis use. So when you’re looking for the right strain of cannabis (Indica, Sativa, or a hybrid), here’s what you should take into consideration:
What kind of effect you are looking for?
Because Sativa and Indica create vastly different effects, knowing what you want to achieve is the first step in choosing a strain.
Do you want to increase your energy? Address your sleep issues? Reduce your anxiety?
A reputable and knowledgeable cannabis retailer can guide you to the perfect strain to suit your unique needs.
What is your tolerance for cannabis?
The CBD and THC in cannabis affect everyone differently. How you react to these cannabinoids depends on factors such as your age, weight, gender, health, etc.
So it’s important that you understand your tolerance before jumping into a new strain of cannabis. If you’re new to marijuana, consider an entry-level strain that has more tolerable and mild effects.
Strains with higher concentrations of cannabinoids, especially THC, may be too potent for new cannabis users.
How’s your medical history looking?
Cannabis is a natural plant but it can still cause intense physiological and psychological effects. It can also interact with certain medications or medical conditions, so it’s important that you speak to your doctor before incorporating any strain of cannabis into your lifestyle.
You should also think about consumption methods. Vaping or smoking cannabis gets you high quicker but can irritate your lungs. Edibles take longer to kick in but are digested and will not irritate your respiratory system.
The Indica Versus Sativa Debate
There are some experts out there that feel more research is needed in order to categorize different cannabis strains and their effects.
It’s been suggested that cannabis should not be categorized by its effects and biochemical content since “Indica” and “Sativa” simply refer to the plants’ physical characteristics.
However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that Indica is more relaxing and Sativa is more energizing – even though there are many chemical compounds involved in creating the medical and recreational effects of cannabis.
One thing is clear: there are notable differences between the two plants and it’s important to understand how each strain affects the human body before choosing one to suit your needs.
If you’re looking for more information about Sativa and Indica marijuana strains, feel free to contact a local recreational dispensary for more information!+