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Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?

If you have been using cannabis for a while now, or you’re new to the world, you have most likely heard the terms “Indica” and “Sativa”. Simply put, these are the names of two different types of cannabis.

While there has been a lot of research done on marijuana, there is still some information missing in the argument of the differences between these cannabis subspecies. Let us first make some of the differences clear.

The Difference

It is almost widely accepted that sativa strains are the ones that give you that incredible head high, while indica strains give you a body high. As mentioned above though, they are both subspecies of the Cannabis plant, and they do share a few similarities.

Sativa is indigenous to hotter climates, and can be found in areas closer to the equator, whereas indica is found in more colder regions. These geographical differences give each species their appearance, but don’t necessarily change their effects.

Contrary to popular belief, the effects of cannabis are down to their components, namely their cannabinoids and terpenes, and not what strain of bud you have. Both of these components are found in both indica and sativa, but their levels are not consistent enough across either strain to conclusively say one species has effects the other doesn’t.

The main reason for this is crossbreeding and hybrids. Hybrids are obviously a mix of both, and are very common across the globe, therefore there are many more strains that are a combination of both sativa and indica.

Terpenes and Cannabinoids

Knowing what cannabinoids and terpenes are is the best first step to understanding what cannabis does to the body. There are hundreds of cannabinoids in a marijuana plant, with the two biggest ones being THC and CBD.

THC being the compound that gives you the euphoric high, and CBD being the compound that has anti-anxiety and pain relief effects. CBD is also the compound being used for its medical benefits.

Terpenes gives marijuana its smell. Whether it be floral, herby, even pine sometimes, terpenes play a big part in knowing what specific strain you have. Terpenes also play a role in the effect marijuana has on you, but once again, there is limited information and limited solid evidence.

What is Indica?

Indica itself can be distinguished by the shorter length and broader leaves of the plant. This is due to the shorter flowering season. The shorter flowering season makes it a popular strain for growers, as well as making it easier to grow in cooler climates.

As the seasons pass and change, you are more likely to have a mature plant, ready for harvesting. Indica plants also generally have a large yield compared to sativa.

Indica Effects

Indica is commonly known as the relaxing species of cannabis. It is the species you smoke, eat or take at night to help with relaxation and sleep. It is also the preferred species to help relieve muscle and joint pain.

Indica is also the species that has the most focus on it in the medical marijuana field, considering it can help with stress and anxiety, and settle the users mind.

There are two terpenes in indica that are important to remember. Myrcene, which has a kind of earthy aroma, is also a sedative, which helps with relaxation and sleep, as well as linalool, which is an additional sedative.

What is Sativa?

Sativa looks like the typical image of a marijuana plant. Thin leaves, with the whole plant looking longer and more slim. Sativa is best suited in warmer climates, and the taller plants make it more difficult to grow indoors, as they can become very tall and very bushy.

Sativa Effects

Contrary to the relaxing effects of indica, sativa gives you a head high, makes you feel more alert, and also helps with concentration and focus. This makes sativa a great day time species, as it can help with everyday activities and work.

Sativa can also help with anxiety and depression, although it is always advised to use strains with lower levels of THC, as high THC levels can actually increase anxiety, as paranoia is a potential side effect of high THC strains.


We have mentioned hybrids already, and explaining what they are is simple. Hybrids are just a combination of both sativa and indica strains. Unless the strain has been lab tested, it is difficult to gauge the exact composition, but hybrids give you the best of both worlds.

Considering there is very little separation between indica and sativa nowadays, as a lot of crossbreeding takes place, the yield, growth rate and just effectiveness of a hybrid plant vary from country to country, and even from plant to plant.

There you have, hopefully this quick tip guide has given you some direction with regards to the differences in sativa and indica. Do you have a favorite? Which is your go-to? Leave a comment letting us know.

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