Sativa and Indica – What is the Difference?


Cannabis Strains

With more than 1,000 strains of cannabis each with it’s own genetics this could be a rather lengthy article, however today, we are going to focus on the two parental strains Indica and Sativa. Each parental strain can have different effects. It is critical that you are aware of the different types of efficacy available. Some varieties of cannabis are most appropriate for particular diseases and ailments, while others offer energy, mental wellness or a tremendous variety of other effects. Choosing the right strain is critical to ensuring that you receive the most desirable experience possible. presents the following information to help you make the best decisions about the cannabis strain that is the best for you. In this article, we will focus on the two parent strains: Sativa and Indica.

Each parent strain has it’s own range of effects on the body and mind resulting in a wide range of benefits. Indica strains generally provide a sense of deep body relaxation. Sativa strains tend to provide a more energizing experience.

Sativa and Indica History

It is with some certainty that we can state that Indica and Sativa parental stains predate human history, however it was Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus whom first identified psychoactive cannabis plants as Cannabis sativa in his work Species Plantarum, and 32 years later, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck identified Cannabis indica as a different species while observing the physical characteristics of India’s cannabis plants. Lamarck argued that C. indica plants had dark green, narrow leaves compared with C. sativa leaves, which are light and narrow.

Outside of their physical differences, Sativa’s tend to have less if any CBD and will have terpenes that are specific to Sativa strains. Indica, like Sativa has it’s own terpenes, however high in CBD. Terpenes are aromatic compounds commonly produced by plants and fruit (like Oranges). The terpenes play a vital role in how Cannabis interacts with the human body, specifically the EndoCannabinoid system.


The most important difference between Indica and Sativa, is in their effects and how they influence energy levels and productivity.


  • Indica strains tend to decrease energy and are better for consumption in the evening or at night, after the conclusion of the day’s work and activities.
  • The Indica aroma tends to be more musty, earthy, and skunky.
  • Indica strains provide what has been called a “body high,” and potent indica strains may give some patients what is called “couchlock,” a condition in which they become so relaxed that they care barely get up from the sofa.
  • Indica strains are often the best for pain and inflammation and, thus, are beneficial for patients with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and cancer.


  • Sativa strains, are uplifting and cerebral, enhancing creativity and productivity.
  • The Sativa aroma tends to be sweet, fruity, or spicy.
  • Sativa strains deliver more of a “mind high”. Sativa strains tend to be better for psychological disorders like depression, PTSD, and anxiety.
  • Unfortunately, sativa plants require longer to grow and yield less flower than indica varieties, so we see more of the Indica strain in dispensaries.

Those are the basics of Indica and Sativa, however there is a 3rd classification out there, Hybrids.


Hybrids are new and unique strains that are bred from the two parent strains, Sativa and Indica. A hybrid theoretically possesses many or most of the beneficial properties of both its parents. Breeders can “cross” any two strains they desire in an effort to create a new strain that delivers the best possible medical efficacy, sometimes even for specific ailments like lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and epilepsy.

Any two strains or more can be mixed to create a hybrid. While indica/sativa mixes are common and often noted for their “alert mellowness” and productivity, medical cannabis breeders can also mix Indica with Indica or blend two Sativa strains.

With so many hybrid strains available, many are a compromise that possess the ability to kill pain and fight inflammation while not putting you to sleep in the middle of the day.

Hybrid strains that display more Indica than Sativa traits are labeled “Indica-dom,” while those that lean toward sativa are similarly titled “Sativa-dom.” It is common to find strains that are labeled with a sativa/indica ratio, like a 60/40 sativa/indica. Other times a strain will indicate only a percentage, such as “70 percent indica” or “80 percent sativa”.


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