Sativa vs. Indica - Which is right for you?
Sativa and indica are the two main subspecies of cannabis. Each yield different medical benefits and physical effects. There is a third type of cannabis plant called Ruderalis but is rare to find). Plant geneticists have developed thousands of different variations derived from these two types of cannabis. There are a few distinct differences between sativa and indica. Through the years, the most common cannabis available is a combination of both sativa and indica, referred to simply as "hybrids." Let's breakdown the characteristics of sativa, indica and hybrids.
Traditionally used for a stimulated effect. Sativas generally have a higher level of THC than indicas, thought to be responsible for more of a cerebral (head) sensation. Because sativa strains are believed to cause feelings of alertness and optimism, many patients prefer to medicate with this type of cannabis during the daytime. Sativa strains generally produce an after-effect or "come down" that acts like a sedative so that patients may plan ahead to prepare for rest and/or sleep.
- Light green in color
- Tall and lean in stature
- Long, narrow fan leaves
- Higher CBD and lower THC levels (generally)
- Muscle relaxation
- Pain reduction
- Increased mental relaxation, calming state of mind
- Increases appetite
- Decreases nausea
- Battles insomnia, great for night time use
- Increases dopamine (neurotransmitter that helps control reward and pleasure emotions
Most commonly used for its calming and relaxing effect. Indica strains typically have a higher level of cannabinoids than sativa. Indica strains may cause feelings of drowsiness and sedation making it an effective medication for insomnia and other sleep disturbances. It's best to use indicas when you plan on sleeping or resting.
- Dark green in color
- Short and dense in stature
- Short, wide fan leaves
- Higher THC and lower CBD levels (generally)
- Reduces chronic pain
- Serotonin booster (neurotransmitter that regulates learning, mood, sleep, anxiety and appetite
- Increased focus, more attentive
- Energy boost
- Great for day time use
It's impossible to accurately describe the effects to be expected from hybrids, mainly because there are thousands of combinations with various genomes. Hybrids exhibit characteristics from both types of plants. Combining sativa with an indica strain can aid mental clarity and decrease sedative effects, while adding indica to sativa strains can lower the tendency of pure sativas to occasionally stimulate anxiety. Most professionally bred cannabis seed strains contain both indica and sativa genes. Percentage-wise, hybrids are generally in the 60/40 - 40/60 range of sativa to indica but can range more drastically in certain breeds. Most dispensaries label the containers with the chemical makeup but if you need assistance, budtenders are also great front-line resources for any question you may have.
It's important to note, as a result from thousands of years of cross-breeding, it is VERY difficult to find a "pure" indica and sativa. Thus, the nomenclatures often used to differentiate between the two are sativa-dominant and indica-dominant. In actuality, nearly all strains on the market are hybrids.
Because each patient/user is chemically different, the results will vary from strain to strain. This information is based upon very limited studies conducted in the United States and is not a tell-all. In order to identify what works for you and what exactly you want to accomplish, it is imperative to keep in mind this is a trial and error process. Even strains with the same name can vary. Why is this? With many States moving to legalize cannabis/hemp and talks of the federal government considering it's benefits in the future, these plants (seeds more notably) are grown in conditions similar to one another but something as small as lighting levels, soil nutrients used by the cultivators or any other factor may actually have an effect on the potency, terpenes, cannabinoids and genome.
In closing, cannabis is becoming more widely accepted around the World. We believe the applications are vast, making it one of the most versatile medicines to date.
*The information provided is for a quick reference ONLY and is not meant to diagnose or prescribe cannabis or other medications. Consult a physician prior to selecting any medication.*