As all good smokers know, there are two main species of cannabis: indica and sativa (and, of course, lots of hybrids – mixtures of both). The common cannabis understanding is that indicas supply a mellow and sleepy body high, while sativas are more cerebral and lend to an energetic high.
But, in this article, we’ll dive deeper into these strains in an effort to discover the real difference between indica and sativa.
The Geographic Origin
Different species of plants grow in different parts of the world, and this holds true for the cannabis plant. Nowadays, cannabis is grown all over the globe, but its origins are much more condensed. They’re also different for cannabis sativas and indicas.
Sativas generally hail from areas near the equator, places like Mexico, Southeast Asia, and South America (Colombia, mainly). Indicas come from the Middle East and the surrounding areas – Afghanistan, Morocco, India, Pakistan, and Turkey.
If you’re a grower, odds are you’ve noticed there are very overt differences between sativa and indica. Namely, size.
Sativas get very large, several feet tall, while indica plants are much shorter (only three or four feet in height)
Sativas are often grown outdoors because of this – good luck growing one in your bedroom closet. Your mom will totally find out.
Leaf shape differs too – sativa plants have slender leaves while indicas are stockier – as does flowering time (though there can be overlap). Sativas average around ten to sixteen weeks to begin producing buds while indicas average around eight to twelve.
With so many hybrids, pot has outdone Baskin Robbins in its offerings: there are more than 31 flavors. But true sativas and true indicas do taste different from one another. Sativas offer earthy flavors, like pine. Indicas tend to be sweeter, with fruity flavors of berry.
Most people wondering about the differences between sativa and indica mainly want to know about how each type of cannabis will make them feel. There is no one-size-fits-all description for this: some people feel the same regardless of what type of weed they smoke; some people feel marked differences.
In general, sativas are more of a “life of the party” bud while indicas are more of a “my couch is my life partner” experience
Sativas tend to energize users and offer a cerebral high. They’re good for daytime use and inspire people to get things done, yes even things like income taxes and housework. They’re stimulating and improve the user’s sense of well-being. These effects make sativa-dominant strains like Jack Herer appeasing to wake-and-bake fans. Sativas also promote creativity and conversation, making them ideal for any social situation.
Indicas are relaxing and offer sedating effects. They produce a full body high and are typically better for night use or during times when a little “get up and go” isn’t required. They make some people very sleepy and leave them wanting to do nothing more than chill-out for the entire evening. They’re not great for interaction, but they do help you unwind after a rough week (or a wonderful week – they help you unwind after any kind of week)
Sativa High Effects:
- Promotes a sense of well-being
- Induces optimism
- Energizes the user
- Increases focus
- Uplifts the mind
Indica High Effects:
- Decreases body aches
- Relaxes the muscles
- Reduces seizures and other spasms
- Relieves headache tension (particularly migraines)
- Reduces stress and everyday anxiety
The Medicinal Benefits
Cannabis, as we’ve well established, harbors many medical benefits. Sativa and indicas overlap on several of these, with both proving beneficial to stifling nausea and priming the appetite, for instance. But they have individual strengths too.
Sativas are often used to help things like ADHD, anorexia, and much less serious issues like writer’s block. Indicas are used for chronic pain, muscle spasms, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
Most marijuana shops offer their fair share of hybrids. Some of these very heavily favor one species over the other (they’re 80 percent indicia and 20 percent sativa, for example), while others split evenly at 50/50 (or close to it). Whenever a hybrid leans one way, you’re more likely to experience the effects of the dominant strain, but certainly not as acutely if you were smoking pure buds.
The advantage of hybrids is that they offer the best of both worlds. A hybrid that is close to even in ratio provides the user with a head and body high. A hybrid (like OG Kush) that is sativa dominant offers stimulation, but relaxes the body as well. A hybrid that is indica dominant, sedates the user without overwhelming them so much that they actually fall asleep.
Naturally, all of this is dependent upon a user’s biochemistry (whether the marijuana is a hybrid or not).
Different strains affect people differently and certainly, things like THC and CBD ratio play a huge role. Other facts include whether or not you’ve eaten, your body weight and your sex and your previous experiences with weed.
Some people experience sativas and love them: they’re Team Sativa all the way. Other people experience indicas and forever enjoy the sense of relaxation offered: they don’t need stimulation; that’s what coffee is for.