What’s the Difference Between Indica and Sativa?

When you first start exploring the world of cannabis, you may encounter a lot of unfamiliar terminology. Two terms often used by dispensaries are Indica and Sativa. But what do these terms mean exactly and what exactly is the difference between Indica and Sativa?

Here you’ll learn what Indica and Sativa are, the difference between them, and why they play a key role in your cannabis experience. 

What Are Indica and Sativa?

Indica and Sativa are types of cannabis plant strains. They are the two main variants of cannabis used for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

Cannabis indica originated in the Middle East and Central Asia in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tibet. Cannabis sativa, on the other hand, comes from warmer climates, such as Southeast Asia and South America. 

A lot of similarities exist between Indica and Sativa, which is why people often refer to the two strains using the singular term “cannabis.” However, there’s extensive research into both types of plants, and several significant differences have been found. 

What’s the Difference between Indica and Sativa?

Indica plants tend to be shorter and woodier, and they also grow more quickly. 

Sativa plants have skinner leaves, more fibrous stems, and are a lighter green.

People typically associate Indica variants with whole-body effects, such as deep sleep, reduced insomnia, and relaxation. 

This is because Indica plants have high cannabidiol (CBD) levels. Sativas contain higher tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels and, thus, have become associated with energy, creativity, and reduction in stress and anxiety.

In recent years, growers have created many hybrids of Sativa and Indica strains to optimize cannabinoid content for their customers. 

Today, you can find cannabis cultivars with high THC, high THC and CBD, or just high CBD. 

Does the Difference Matter?

The type of cannabis strain (also known as chemovar, the chemical composition of a strain) determines the effect on your body. The reasons for using each strain vary. Sativas generally energize and uplift, while Indicas relax and calm.

Because of the high CBD content, Indicas are often better for nighttime use. Indica acts as a sedative and helps to relieve pain. It may also stimulate appetite in people who struggle to eat because of illness.

Sativas’ high THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, make them ideal for the daytime by increasing focus and boosting energy. It may also help ease depression, at least temporarily, by altering brain chemistry. 

A Strain by Any Other Name

The precise effects you experience depend on the individual plants you consume. Chemical compositions can vary dramatically from one sample to another, even if the plants are the same strain, grown in identical conditions. 

Some vendors refrain from using the terms “Indica” and “Sativa” because they are too broad-brush for today’s market. They believe the terms are not accurate enough to describe the plants’ chemical compositions.

Instead, some brands identify cannabis plants by their chemovar (chemical) descriptions. This way, customers can more easily see the individual cannabinoid and terpene content and get a better sense of how the plant will interact with their body when they consume it. 

Which Is Right for You: Indica or Sativa?

The strain you choose is a matter of personal preference and goals. Generally speaking, if you need help relaxing, Indica is a good choice. If you want something that will give you a buzz, Sativa is the better call. 

Many cannabis users keep a stash of both Indica and Sativa, depending on their mood and the time of day. 

When choosing a strain, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of using this cannabis? (If medical, then Indicas may be the better option. If recreational, Sativas might be more fun.)
  • How much experience do I have with cannabis? (More experienced users may want to opt for Sativas over Indicas.)
  • How long do I want to feel the effects? (Those looking for a long-lasting experience may prefer Indicas to Sativas.)

Consult an Expert

Indicas and Sativas are two varieties of the cannabis plant. While people typically associate Indicas with relaxation and Sativas with invigoration, their effects can be a bit more complicated. 

If you are new to cannabis products, it is essential to partner with an expert. You can work with your local dispensaries to find the proper dosage, products, and consumption options for your desired benefits and effects.