The Difference Between Indica and Sativa: Does it Matter?
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A relaxed mind/body and the ability to get a great night's sleep, or a more energized body and focused mind — which effect are you looking for?
Understanding the difference between indica and sativa strains is a crucial component of choosing the appropriate strain for you.

The cannabis plant and its cannabinoids can provide either one of these results and much more. But there are many varieties of cannabis, each one offering their own set of outcomes. More specifically, choosing sativa vs indica strains of marijuana will play a role in the results you get from consuming cannabis.

But what exactly are indica and sativa? Before you can fully understand the two, it's important to first understand CBD and THC concentrations — the two most abundant cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. 

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is perhaps the more well-known cannabinoid and is what users seek to get high when they use cannabis. It offers a plethora of health benefits that medicinal users seek, including alleviating pain, inflammation and seizures. 

CBD (cannabidiol), on the other hand, does not induce any psychoactive effects, though it can impact the mind as well as the body. Like THC, CBD also offers a number of health benefits similar to those of THC. 

The ratio of THC to CBD matters a great deal when choosing cannabis strains and will determine how particular marijuana strains will affect you. That's why it's very important to be able to understand and identify the specific concentrations of both cannabinoids in a particular strain before consuming any cannabis products.

As already mentioned, the presence of THC in a strain can stimulate mind-altering effects, but CBD can actually minimize some of the effects of THC because it interacts with receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the brain much differently compared to THC. 

That's a big reason why balanced or high-CBD strains will impact you much differently than THC-dominant strains and is a huge factor in determining what type of strain to choose. 

Having said all that, understanding the difference between indica and sativa strains is a crucial component of choosing the appropriate strain for you.  

So, what's the difference between the two, and how important is it to understand these differences?

Sativa vs. Indica Strains

Generally speaking, cannabis indica strains generally offer a sense of deep body relaxation, while sativa strains offer a more mind-focusing and energizing experience.

Let's go more into detail for each.

Indica strains

In terms of what indica cannabis plants look like, they tend to be shorter and bushier and have wider leaves compared to sativa variations. Indica plants also tend to grow faster and produce a higher yield compared to sativa plants. 

Indica effects the mind and body in different ways than sativa marijuana strains. Effects include:

  • Deep muscle relaxation
  • Heightened mental relaxation
  • Reduced chronic pain 
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased nausea
  • Increased appetite

Indica plants typically feature higher CBD concentrations and lower THC concentrations. Since indica strains induce a much more relaxing feeling — both mentally and physically — these strains are better used during the evening.

Sativa strains

Sativa plants grow taller and thinner with narrower leaves compared to indica plants. However, they take longer to grow and mature compared to indica plants, and therefore their yields aren't as robust. 

The effects of sativa strains include:

  • Alleviated anxiety and depression
  • Reduced chronic pain
  • Improved mental focus and clarity

Unlike indica plants, sativa plants have lower CBD concentrations and higher THC concentrations. Considering the more energizing experience that sativa plants offer, they're better suited for daytime use.

Hybrid strains

For those looking to take advantage of a little of both indica and sativa, there are hybrid stains available that combine both. Hybrids incorporate both strains that are crossbred. That said, some strains may be indica-dominant, while others may be sativa-dominant, therefore affecting how they will impact the user.   

While some may be balanced, others may be more in favor of indica or sativa. Depending on the specific effects that you're looking for, it's important to pay attention to whether or not the hybrid is indica- or sativa-dominant. 

Further, identifying the exact ratio of each strain in the product is also important, as it will indicate whether it will be more relaxing or energizing in its effects.

How to Choose the Right Strain For You

The strain you choose will depend on the exact results you seek. Ask yourself what type of healing properties you're looking for and choose the strain that will provide that particular result.

For instance, if you're looking to achieve the following effects, choose an indica strain:

  • Deep relaxation
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Pain relief
  • Muscle relaxation
  • No mind-altering effects

On the other hand, if you're after the following outcomes, then go with a sativa strain:

  • More energy
  • Metal clarity and focus
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Treatment for headaches and migraines
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Psychoactive effects 

If you're looking for something that will provide a little from both strains, perhaps a hybrid may be appropriate for you. As previously mentioned, it's important to understand the exact ratio within the hybrid so you can predict the effects you will be more likely to experience. 

Getting Started With Different Cannabis Strains

If you're new to the world of cannabis and are unsure about where to start in terms of choosing a particular strain, we suggest you start off with a higher CBD strain, as it will be less likely to stimulate any psychoactive effects and won't get you high. 

Beginning with a sativa-dominant high-CBD strain is a great place to start and get a feel for the effects without experiencing a stronger psychoactive impact.

Some sativa-dominant, high-CBD strains include: 

  • Harlequin 
  • ACDC 
  • Ringo’s gift 
  • Charlotte's Web 

Once you've got a little experience with these strains, you can start experimenting with higher-THC indica-dominant strains, such as the following:

  • ICE
  • Northern Lights 
  • Kosher Kush
  • GG4 

Final Thoughts

If you're new to the world of cannabis, you may not be aware that there are a variety of different strains available for you to use. But it's important to understand these differences and what the various strains are, as they each have their own properties that induce different effects. 

Start with something with a little less THC and a little more CBD, and work your way up until you find the right strain that gives you the effects you’d like to feel.