Sativa Vs Indica strains

Sativa vs. Indica: Understanding The Differences To Determine Which Is Best

In the vast and ever-evolving landscape of cannabis, the two pillars that stand tall are Sativa and Indica. Each carries unique characteristics and effects, catering to various needs and preferences. Whether you’re seeking a burst of creativity and energy or a soothing escape into tranquility, there’s a strain tailored to every moment of your day.

Imagine a natural solution that aligns perfectly with your lifestyle and wellness goals. Sativa strains, have an energizing influence, igniting a spark of vitality and focus, making them ideal for those moments when you crave an uplift. On the other hand, Indica strains create a serene atmosphere, gently guiding you towards relaxation and a restful night’s sleep. This duality within the cannabis world mirrors the balance we seek in our daily lives, making it a relatable and integral part of our journey toward well-being.

Cannabis Chemovars: A Modern Approach

Recent shifts in the cannabis industry have seen a move from traditional terms like “Sativa” and “Indica” to a more scientific classification based on chemical compositions, known as “chemovars.” 

These categories are:

Type I

THC Dominant:

High in THC, offering potent psychoactive effects.

Type II

THC & CBD Balanced:

A balanced THC/CBD mix, suitable for those seeking a moderate impact.

Type III

CBD Dominant:

High in CBD, with minimal psychoactive effects, ideal for medicinal use.

Cannabis Chemovars

Cannabinoids Explained: THC and CBD Effects on Cannabis Users

Cannabis plants are rich in chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, which are the key players behind the myriad effects of cannabis, both the beneficial and the undesirable ones.

While the full scope of cannabinoids’ roles remains a subject of ongoing research, scientists have pinpointed two primary cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which are central to the cannabis plant’s impact on users.

Among the lesser-known but significant cannabinoids are:

Known for its potential to alleviate symptoms and side effects associated with certain neurological conditions.

A precursor to THC, THCA does not produce psychoactive effects, offering an insight into the complex chemistry of the cannabis plant.

CBG is gaining attention for its possible role in reducing anxiety and addressing symptoms of various conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.


The Role of Terpenes in Cannabis

While THC and CBD often grab the headlines when it comes to cannabis’s effects, there’s another group of compounds that deserves the spotlight: terpenes. Research is increasingly showing that these aromatic compounds, found naturally in the cannabis plant, play a significant role in shaping the unique experiences each strain can offer.

Terpenes are what give cannabis its distinctive aromas and flavors, but their influence goes beyond just scent and taste. They interact with cannabinoids to enhance or alter the effects of cannabis, contributing to the plant’s overall therapeutic potential.

terpenes in cannabis

Sativa: The Energizer

sativa the energizer

Sativa strains originate from the warm, sun-drenched climates of Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, and Western Asia. These towering plants, characterized by their slender, finger-like leaves, can stretch up to 6 feet tall and demand a longer maturation period compared to other cannabis types. 

Sativas are distinguished by their higher THC to CBD ratio, known for inducing an uplifting and energizing “mind high” that can enhance focus, and creativity, and reduce anxiety, making them ideal for daytime use.

Warm and sunny regions like Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, and parts of Western Asia.
Tall and thin plants with long leaves, requiring more time to mature.
High THC content leads to an energizing effect, ideal for daytime use to stimulate creativity and reduce anxiety.

Indica: The Relaxant

indica the relaxant

Indica strains hail from the harsh and dry regions of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey, adapting to the turbulent climate of the Hindu Kush mountains. These plants are notably shorter and bushier compared to their Sativa counterparts, with broad leaves and a quicker flowering time. 

Indicas are renowned for their higher CBD levels, which contribute to their deeply relaxing effects. They are particularly sought after for nighttime use, providing relief from pain, nausea, and insomnia, and stimulating appetite.

Harsh, dry regions like the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey.
Short, bushy plants with wide leaves that mature faster than Sativas.
Higher CBD content contributes to relaxing effects, making Indicas suitable for nighttime use to aid sleep and relieve pain.

Hybrid: The Best of Both Worlds

hybrid strains

Hybrid cannabis strains are cultivated through the crossbreeding of Sativa and Indica plants, combining traits from both to target specific effects. These strains vary in appearance and chemical composition, depending on the parent plants’ characteristics. 

Hybrids are designed to offer a balanced mix of effects, ranging from reducing anxiety and stress to alleviating symptoms related to medical treatments. They are classified based on their dominant traits as Indica-dominant, Sativa-dominant, or balanced, providing a tailored cannabis experience.

Grown in farms or greenhouses from a mix of Sativa and Indica parent plants.
Varied appearance based on the combination of parent plants, with a unique CBD to THC ratio.
Tailored for specific outcomes, hybrids can offer a range from energizing to relaxing effects, depending on their dominant lineage.

Ruderalis: The Hardy Survivor

ruderalis strain

Cannabis ruderalis is a less commonly known type, adapted to the harsh environments of Eastern Europe, the Himalayan regions of India, Siberia, and Russia. Despite its small size, rarely exceeding 12 inches in height, ruderalis is valued for its rapid growth cycle, from seed to harvest in just over a month. 

This strain’s low THC and higher CBD ratio make it less desirable for recreational or medicinal use on its own. However, its resilience and quick flowering time make ruderalis an attractive option for breeding programs, enhancing the desirable traits of more potent strains.

Extreme climates like Eastern Europe, the Himalayan regions, Siberia, and Russia.
Small, bushy plants with a fast growth cycle, maturing in just over a month.
Low THC content and higher CBD ratio, not commonly used alone but valuable in crossbreeding for its rapid growth.

Potential Side Effects and Risks

While cannabis is renowned for its therapeutic and recreational benefits, it’s important to acknowledge the potential side effects and risks associated with its use. The majority of these adverse effects stem from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in cannabis, rather than cannabidiol (CBD) or other cannabinoids. Nonetheless, all cannabis products have the potential to induce side effects.

The method of consumption plays a significant role in the likelihood and severity of side effects. Inhaling cannabis through smoking or vaping can lead to irritation of the lungs and airways, potentially resulting in coughing and respiratory issues. In contrast, oral forms of cannabis, such as edibles like gummies or cookies, pose less risk to respiratory health.

However, it’s crucial to note that the effects of orally ingested cannabis manifest more gradually. This slower onset is due to the conversion of THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a metabolite with more potent psychoactive properties, once processed by the body. Consequently, the effects of edibles can be more intense and enduring, lasting several hours or, in some cases, days, depending on the individual’s metabolism and the quantity consumed.

Strains to consider for certain conditions

strains for different symptoms

Selecting the appropriate cannabis product involves considering your desired effects, tolerance level, and medical history.

THC:15 - 23%
Conditions:Fatigue, Stress, Nausea, Pain
CBD:Less than 1%
Conditions:Pain, Cramps, Inflammation, Insomnia, Mental Fog, PTSD
CBD:Less than 1%
THC:17 - 22%
Conditions:Chronic Pain,  Muscle Spasms, Insomnia
CBD:Less than 1%
THC:20 - 22%
Conditions:Fatigue, Stress, Acute Pain, Mental Fog, Anxiety, PTSD
CBD:Less than 1%
THC:14 - 25%
Conditions:Insomnia, Acute Pain, Nausea, Low Appetite, PTSD
CBD:Less than 0.1%
THC:17 - 23%
Conditions:Low Appetite, Restless Leg Syndrome, Insomnia
THC:16 - 21%
Conditions:Acute Pain, Insomnia, Low Appetite
THC:16 - 20%
Conditions:Inflammation, Pain, Stress
THC:13 - 19%
Conditions:Fatigue, Depression
Conditions:Depression, Anxiety, Mental Fog, Low Energy
Conditions:Pain, Mood Disorders, Insomnia, Low Appetite
CBD:Less than 1%
THC:12 - 20%
Conditions:Low Mood, Mental Fog, Social Anxiety
CBD:Less than 0.1%
Conditions:Stress, Anxiety, Mental Fog, Low Energy
CBD:Less than 0.1%
Conditions:Mental Fog, Acute Pain, Social Anxiety
CBD:Less than 1%
Conditions:Migraine, Glaucoma, Headache, Low Mood
Strain Category CBD THC Conditions
Acapulco Gold
15 - 23%
Fatigue, Stress, Nausea, Pain
Blue Dream
Less than 1%
Pain, Cramps, Inflammation, Insomnia, Mental Fog, PTSD
Purple Kush
Less than 1%
17 - 22%
Chronic Pain, Muscle Spasms, Insomnia
Sour Diesel
Less than 1%
20 - 22%
Fatigue, Stress, Acute Pain, Mental Fog, Anxiety, PTSD
Bubba Kush
Less than 1%
14 - 25%
Insomnia, Acute Pain, Nausea, Low Appetite, PTSD
Granddaddy Purple
Less than 0.1%
17 - 23%
Low Appetite, Restless Leg Syndrome, Insomnia
Afghan Kush
16 - 21%
Acute Pain, Insomnia, Low Appetite
LA Confidential
16 - 20%
Inflammation, Pain, Stress
Maui Waui
13 - 19%
Fatigue, Depression
Golden Goat
Depression, Anxiety, Mental Fog, Low Energy
Northern Lights
Pain, Mood Disorders, Insomnia, Low Appetite
White Widow
Less than 1%
12 - 20%
Low Mood, Mental Fog, Social Anxiety
Super Silver Haze
Less than 0.1%
Stress, Anxiety, Mental Fog, Low Energy
Pineapple Express
Less than 0.1%
Mental Fog, Acute Pain, Social Anxiety
Less than 1%
Migraine, Glaucoma, Headache, Low Mood

Consulting with knowledgeable dispensary staff or healthcare professionals can help guide this decision-making process.

Legal Considerations and Safety

With varying legal status across regions, it’s essential to be informed about the laws governing cannabis use in your area. Regardless of its potential benefits, it’s crucial to use cannabis responsibly and be aware of its side effects.

Cannabis FAQs

Sativa strains are known for their energizing and uplifting effects, making them ideal for daytime use. They typically have higher THC levels and lower CBD content. Indica strains, on the other hand, are associated with relaxation and sedative effects, often chosen for nighttime use due to their higher CBD and lower THC levels.

Cannabis may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in some individuals, primarily due to its CBD content, which has been studied for its potential to reduce anxiety. However, THC can sometimes exacerbate anxiety; thus, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before using cannabis for these conditions.

Yes, it is possible to develop a dependency on cannabis, particularly with frequent and heavy use. Symptoms of cannabis dependency can include cravings, withdrawal symptoms upon stopping, and continued use despite negative consequences.

Edibles are cannabis-infused food products. The effects of edibles take longer to onset but can be more potent and last longer than the effects of inhaled cannabis. This is because THC is metabolized differently when ingested, converting to a stronger compound in the liver.

Smoking cannabis can irritate the lungs and airways, potentially leading to respiratory issues like coughing and bronchitis. Alternative methods of consumption, such as edibles or vaporizing, may reduce these risks.

The legality of CBD varies by jurisdiction but is legal in many places, especially when derived from hemp. Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive effects, meaning it does not produce a "high."

Choosing the right strain involves considering your desired effects, tolerance levels, and any specific medical conditions you wish to address. Consulting with a healthcare professional or knowledgeable dispensary staff can help you make an informed decision based on your individual needs and preferences.

faq sativa vs indica

The Bottom Line

Understanding the distinctions between Sativa, Indica, hybrids, and chemovars is fundamental to navigating the complex world of cannabis. By considering the chemical makeup, desired effects, and legal implications, users can make informed choices to meet their recreational or medicinal needs.

If you’re considering exploring the benefits of cannabis for health or recreational purposes, initiating a conversation with a medical professional or a cannabis specialist is a crucial first step. These experts can provide valuable insights into how cannabis might impact your health, weighing both the potential advantages and drawbacks tailored to your specific situation.

 Their guidance can be instrumental in identifying a cannabis product that aligns with your health objectives and personal preferences.

Contact Us If You Need Help

It's not uncommon to experience a learning curve as you discover the type of cannabis that best suits your needs, and you might encounter strains or products that don't agree with you. Patience and careful experimentation are key during this phase.

Article Reviewed by

Dr. Richard Koffler

Richard Koffler, MD
NPI Number 1467557264

  • Dr. Koffler is a Physiatrist, specializing in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 
  • Graduated from the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in 1993 Dr. Koffler completed a one-year internship in internal medicine at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. 
  • Residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Rusk Institute at NYU Medical Center in New York City. Board certified in 1998. 
  • Trained in acupuncture at Helms Medical Institute at UCLA His medical practice incorporates proven conventional western medicine integrating eastern alternative practices. 
  • Medical Director of several medical clinics in NYC, Stamford CT, and Miami Beach, FL.

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