One of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to cannabis is that of what separates Indica from Sativa strains. Depending on who you ask, the question as to which of the two is better will always have a very different answer. Technically speaking though, it’s a little like comparing apples to oranges and trying to determine which was the better fruit. Quite the fruitless endeavour…if you’ll forgive the pun…given the way in which they are completely different, inside and out.
When it comes to personal preference, the Indica vs Sativa argument all comes down to what exactly you expect to get out of the experience. While individual strains have their own signature appearances, flavour profiles, aromas and so on, the actual effects you can expect to feel upon hitting the stuff will be determined by whether it’s of Indica or Sativa origins. It’s the concentration of THC, CBD or the combination of the two that determines what kind of high (or lack thereof) you can expect to experience.
But assuming you’re new to all of this and don’t know where to start, what are the basics you should know about Sativa and Indica cannabis?
The Two Major Classifications
While they are not in fact the only types of cannabis in the world, the overwhelming majority of cannabis you come across for recreational and medicinal use will be Indica or Sativa. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to come across anything else, even if you tried. In terms of their main differences and attributes, you could essentially sum it up very briefly and vaguely as follows:
- Mainly affects the mind
- Produces tall and skinny plants
- Gives the user an uplifted or euphoric feeling
- Mainly affects the body
- Produces smaller, bushier plants
- Gives the user a physical/body stone and heavy feeling
In Detail: Cannabis Sativa
Going into things in a little further detail, Sativa cannabis strains are native to Southeast Asia, Thailand, Mexico, Colombia and other warm countries around the equator. The plants themselves are characterised by tall, thinner structures with leaves of a lighter green colour that likewise grow in narrower, more elongated shapes. In addition, Sativa cannabis strains have the potential to grow to quite enormous heights in excess of three metres. They take longer to reach maturity and flower than Indica cannabis strains, with flowering times that often extend to 16 weeks or even longer. However, given the fact that they spend longer periods of time in their vegetative states, they have the potential to produce much higher yields. It is not uncommon to harvest more than 500g from a single Sativa plant. On the downside, THC levels rarely exceed 15%.
Sativa cannabis plants also tend to produce extremely strong-smelling buds, with are characterised by skunky, earthy and slightly sweet aromas. Some of the most popular Sativa strains of cannabis on the scene include Cherry AK, Trainwreck, Jack Herer, Green Crack and J-1. Once you get used to the different fragrance profiles of the two primary cannabis types, it’s actually quite easy to tell them apart by aroma alone.
Sativa Cannabis Effects
In medicinal circles, Sativa strains are the primary go-to for the treatment of psychological health problems, including depressions, anxiety, stress and ADHD. They are characterised by the uplifting, stimulating and energising effect they have when consumed, having a predominantly cerebral impact that’s light on the body. These are the strains that are also commonly associated with uncontrollable fits of laughter, deep thinking and creativity. They make you feel as if you can accomplish anything and can make everything you do and everything around you look and feel more positive and enjoyable than it already is.
Sativa cannabis is also the most popular choice for daytime use as it generally does not lead to lethargy or sleepiness. It is considered to be the more social of the two primary cannabis types, leaving the user energised and uplifted, as opposed to tired and heavy.
In Detail: Cannabis Indica
On the flipside of the coin, Indica cannabis strains are largely the opposite in every way. They produce much smaller plants of around 90cm in height, which are far bushier, produce darker green leaves and deliver less generous yields come harvest time. However, flowering times can be as short as eight weeks and it’s possible to produce Indica cannabis with THC concentrations in excess of 25%. They are native to cooler climates, including the Middle East and parts of India. Indica buds emit a mouth-watering citrus-pine aroma, with undertones of sugary-fruit and notes of quality hash. As the plants themselves tend to be smaller and easier to grow in general, they are a favourite among indoor growers with limited space available.
Quite the contrary to Sativa, Indica cannabis is turned to as a means by which to relax, space out and fall asleep. The effects are less cerebral and more physical, with the stone getting to work on the full body from head to toe and deeply relaxing the muscles. Stronger strains can lead to ‘couch-lock’ – the term used to describe a stone that makes it feel impossible to leave the couch. Indica is not considered particularly social as it is about doing little to nothing at all, though can work wonders in the treatment of muscle pain, insomnia, poor appetite, anxiety and muscle spasms.
Hybrid Cannabis Plants
These days, pretty much every strain you come across will be a carefully engineered hybrid. Which certainly makes things a little more complicated, but has also given birth to a world of truly incredible strains for all purposes. Really, all you need to know when choosing a hybrid is as follows:
- Sativa-Dominant Hybrids:Strains that feature mostly Sativa genetics will have a predominantly cerebral and uplifting high, with a gently relaxing body stone coming from its Indica traits. Prime examples include Sour Diesel, Juicy Fruit, Headband, Neptune OG and Mars OG.
- Balanced Hybrids:These incredible strains deliver a balanced hit on both sides of the fence – the uplifting cerebral high of Sativa coupled with the full body stone of Indica. Examples to try if looking for the best of both worlds include Super Silver Haze, Purple Diesel and Purple Urkle.
- Indica-dominant Hybrids:With more Indica genetics that Sativa, you can expect a hit that is predominantly physical, though enhanced by a wonderful cerebral uplift at the same time. Great for encouraging restful sleep and generally for doing nothing at all, prime strains in this category include Blackberry Kush, Girl Scout Cookies, Kosher Kush and Tahoe OG.
One important note to remember however: just because two strains are in fact ‘pure’ Sativa or Indica doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll deliver an identical high. Depending on geographic origins, genetics, THC/CBD content and so on, you could be in for a very different experience from each.
As such, the best advice is to indulge in a little experimentation. Decide which of the two primary strains suits your needs best, stock up on a few different examples and find out first-hand which is the strain for you.