Sativa and indica plants differ in appearance and physiological effects. People often describe sativas as energizing, uplifting, and aromatic, while indicas are described as stoney, full-bodied, and sedating. Knowing the difference between indica vs sativa can help you find the right strain that fits your needs.
Indica vs Sativa: Differences in Appearance
Sativa plants are tall and slim with slender, pointier, light green leaves. Indica plants, on the other hand, are short and bushy with broad, chunky, dark green leaves. Sativas grow taller than indicas and have a fibrous stalk. Indica plants are shorter and have a woody stalk. These plants tend to smell stronger, sweet, sour, or damp.
Sativa plants have a lighter, grassy smell. These plants have a longer flowering time compared to indicas. The flowering period for indicas is between 45 and 60 days. Sativas usually take 60 to 90 days to produce flowers.
Indica plants gain height quickly once the flowering period starts. Their vegetative height increases by 50% to 100% during this period. Sativa plants flowers and grow simultaneously instead of having blooming and vegetative stages. They gain height very fast once the flowering period starts, and this will continue throughout the blooming period. Their vegetative height increases by 200% to 300% during the flowering stage.
Effects of Indica
It’s a little tricky to describe the difference between indica vs sativa when it comes to their effects. Indica is native to India, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Pakistan. These plants have adapted to the harsh climate of the area. Indicas have plenty of buds, fatter leaves, and shorter growing time compared to sativas.
The CBD to THC ratio of indicas is also higher compared to sativa plants. This is probably the reason why indica is associated with feelings of intense relaxation. Indica strains may help:
- reduce inflammation
- stimulate appetite
- reduce nausea, spasms, stress, and anxiety
- treat insomnia
- alleviate pain
- increase dopamine, which controls the please and reward centers of the brain
These plants provide a physically sedating body high. That’s why indica strains are suited for nighttime use. Being high on indica brings you an outgoing, light feeling. You will also feel bits of euphoria. An indica body high alters your sensory and time perception. Rapid heart rate and bloodshot eyes are common physical signs of an indica body high.
Popular indica strains include Blueberry, Northern Lights, Salmon River OG, Critical Mass, Granddaddy Purple, and Pre98 Bubba Kush. The strongest strains of indica differ from one place to another and from one grower to another. Some of the strongest strains that you can grow include Nuken, Kosher Kush, Critical Kush, Death Bubba, Grape Ape, Master Kush, and Northern Wreck.
Effects of Sativa
Sativa plants grow in areas with dryer, warmer climates and longer, sunny days like South and Central America as well as Southeast Asia. These plants take longer to mature compared to indicas. The CBD to THC ratio in sativas is lower compared to indica strains. Sativa plants sometimes contain higher levels of THC. This is probably the reason why sativa plants are known for having an anxiety-reducing, invigorating effect or a strong mind high.
Sativa users usually feel social, creative, and productive. That’s why sativa strains are popular with those who are using medical marijuana. It is ideal for daytime use. Sativa strains have refreshing head effects, making it suitable for creative projects, social gatherings, and physical activities. It can also help people suffering from a loss of appetite and depression. Sativa strains may help:
- treat nausea
- reduce chronic pain
- improve creativity and focus
- boost energy
- reduce stress, depression, and anxiety
- fight fatigue
- increase serotonin, which helps regulate mood, learning, sleep, appetite, and anxiety
Popular sativa strains include White Widow, Strawberry Cough, Super Silver Haze, Green Crack, Island Sweet Skunk, Jack Herer, Sour Tangie, and Maui Wowie. Pure sativa strains include Panama Red, Acapulco Gold, and Durban Poison.
What Causes the Effects of Indica and Sativa?
Marijuana flowers contain terpenes. These are aromatic compounds that give a strain to its aroma. Terpenes are similar to cannabinoids like CBD and THC. It is the amount of terpenes that allows an indica or sativa strain to produce its effects. Some of the most common terpenes include the following:
Myrcene can help fight insomnia and anxiety. Strains that contain this compound have an earthy aroma. Myrcene is present in Pure Kush and White Widow.
Eucalyptol has anti-bacterial properties, which may help reduce inflammation. It smells of eucalyptus and tea tree oil. Bubba Kush and Super Silver Haze contain eucalyptol.
Bisabolol smells of chamomile and tea tree oil. It has antimicrobial effects, which may help reduce swelling, irritation, and pain. AC/DC and Headband are rich in bisabolol.
Geraniol has anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal effects. Island White Skunk and Great White Shark contain this compound.
Caryophyllene has a zesty, peppery scent. It can help treat stomach problems like ulcers as well as depression and anxiety. Chemdog, Death Star, and GSC are rich in caryophyllene.
Limonene has a zesty scent. This compound may boost mood and reduce stress. Wedding Cake and Do-Si-Dos contain limonene.
How to Choose the Best Strain
Here are some tips on how to find the best strain for you.
- Determine your purpose for using marijuana. If you’re going to use it for recreational purposes, determine what kind of experiences you are looking for. If it’s for medical reasons, determine what condition it is going to treat.
- Find suppliers that test each strain and batch for terpene and cannabinoid content.
- Consider your experience in using marijuana. Get one with a good CBD balance or one that contains low THC levels if you have a low tolerance. You can also ask the budtender or supplier to recommend entry-level strains. Ask them about the effects of the strain you’re interested in.
You can also talk to a doctor about the benefits that you can get from using marijuana and its possible risks.
Understanding the difference between indica vs sativa can help you decide which one to use. Sativa strains seem more energizing, while indica strains are more relaxing. Regardless of the strain you choose, you should always proceed with caution when consuming marijuana. Start with small doses and just enjoy the experience.
Have you decided what strain would you prefer to cultivate? Find it at the seed bank.