Indica vs. Sativa: What’s the Difference?

indica vs sativa

Whether you purchase marijuana to use recreationally or for medicinal purposes, you’re bound to notice the three most common strains: Indica, Sativa, and hybrid. A hybrid strain is created when Indica and Sativa are blended, but what exactly happens with the two strains independently?

What are the best uses for each and how can you identify them? Continue reading this article and we’ll clear those things up for you. Then you can choose which you think is best between Indica vs. Sativa.

A Brief History

The terms Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica were introduced in the 18th century to differentiate the species of cannabis.

The term Sativa came from Carl Linnaeus, a botanist, physician, and zoologist from Sweden. Who because of his experience naming organisms, is known as the “father of modern taxonomy.”

Indica was given its name by Jean-Baptise Lamarck, a French naturalist who first introduced the idea that humans evolved from apes.

During these times, the plants were cultivated mainly for its fiber and seeds. Whereas now the names they were given is to describe the high you get when the plants are smoked.

In fact, what we call Sativa today was originally Cannabis indica ssp. indica. Put simply, the names no longer hold the meaning they once did. But it’s still nice to know the differences between these marijuana strains in order to make informed purchasing decisions based on the way things are today.

Which Do We Smoke? Male or Female Plants?

As a plant, cannabis can be either male, female or hermaphrodite.

When male plants pollinate females, it begins the production of seeds. Female cannabis plants are seedless on their own.

This causes the female plants to grow buds that are rich in cannabinoid. So, the plants that produce the weed we smoke are all female.

Marijuana growers can choose their plants’ genders by growing clones of a parent strain. You can also gather female seeds through a special kind of breeding process.

Hermaphroditic plants are rare and contain both male and female parts. This allows the plant to pollinate itself.

Most growers try to avoid this because it spoils the seedless female plants and causes the hermaphroditic genes to pass.

Indica vs. Sativa

You don’t have to be a professional cannabis cultivator to know the difference between the Indica and Sativa strains. The first part of knowing the difference between the two is understanding how their appearances differ.

The Look of Sativa

Because this plant can reach up to 12 feet high and its branches need room to grow widely and flourish, it’s best to grow Sativa outdoors.

The leaves, buds, and colas, in the Sativa plant are more far apart and spaced out than other strains. The branches grow upward.

There isn’t much bud that grows toward the stalk of a Sativa marijuana plant. The parts of the plant that can be used, typically grow halfway up the plant’s stalk.

Most of the drawings and images you see where marijuana leaves are depicted mimic the look of Sativa. The leaves are thin and spread apart.

Additionally, toward the bottom of the plant, there are small pencil thin leaves that join together.

Sativa can grow wildly in Thailand, Southern India, Jamaica, and Mexico.

The Look of Indica

Indica strains of cannabis grow much to be smaller than Sativa, they grow to be about 6 feet tall. However, they grow quicker and in larger amounts.

The branches and leaves at the top of the plant are narrow and pointed while it thickens as you reach the bottom. This shape is very similar to pine trees.

The usable buds on Indica are mainly located at the bottom where the density is. The leaves on this strain are much wider than Sativa’s although the pattern is very similar.

Indica varieties are primarily cultivated in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Tibet, and Nepal.

How is the Sativa High?

The levels of THC in Sativa are much higher than the levels of CBD. This makes for a more energetic, perky high. It’s one that you would definitely prefer in the daytime or if you were out partying, socializing, or simply want to be in your own happy little bubble while staying at home.

If you are smoking this strain for medicinal purposes, it will help treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • An inability to focus or be creative
  • Low serotonin levels

Sativa is best known for its cerebral or psychedelic high.

How is the Indica High?

The levels of CBD in Indica are much higher than the levels of THC, which means it has great mellowing effects.

The high from Indica is the opposite of Sativa. Instead of giving you a burst of energy, this strain will help you feel relaxed. It’s a great natural alternative to dangerous, habit-forming sleeping pills as it puts most people straight to sleep.

If you want to use Indica for medicinal purposes, it can:

  • Treat insomnia
  • Stop muscle spasms
  • Ease anxiety
  • Reduce nausea
  • Increase appetite
  • Release dopamine

Indica provides more of a full body high. This means it can enhance some physical sensations. Some people notice differences in the way food tastes and the way things sound.

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