Indica vs Sativa: What You Need to Know

Indica Vs Sativa What You Need To Know

As a cannabis user, it’s important to compare Indica vs Sativa so that you will know which strain is best for your needs. You may have already encountered the catchy names of medical marijuana products- Blueberry, Northern Lights, Sour Diesel- that are being sold at dispensaries. No matter what names they are being given, cannabis plants are usually categorized according to the two main species: Indica and Sativa. 

Over the past several decades, more than 1000 strains of cannabis have been bred, making it even more important to become aware of the different types available, especially for those seeking to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Choosing the right strain is critical to getting the therapy results that you so desire.

Cannabis has three subspecies- aside from Indica and Sativa, there’s also ruderalis which lacks potency, and makes it less appealing to patients. Very often ruderalis strains are avoided by breeders and cultivators because the plants are typically small and yield little medicine. So this is why the focus is mainly on Indica and Sativa.

What is the Difference Between Indica and Sativa?

Indica and Sativa differ, from physiological effects to physical appearance. The benefits, side effects, leaf, and key advantages differ between the two- yielding varied results.

Physical Appearance

Just looking at the two and you will already see a noticeable difference. Indica plants are relatively more minor, growing up to 2 to 4 feet. The plant appears bushy because of the compact branching and broader leaves- short and stocky is the descriptions used when explaining Indica plants.

Meanwhile, Sativa plants are typically larger, meaning they are taller and skinnier and can grow anywhere between 5 to 18 feet, even beyond that. The plants have few branches and thin leaves.


Indica plants are mostly farmed indoors since the species grows in a bush. Sativas, which can grow up to 20 feet or more, usually grow outside, and preferably in warm or tropical environments.


There are two compounds known to produce the cannabis effects that we all know about- delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These compounds, also called cannabinoids, affect the brain in various ways. 

THC and CBD work when they interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), whose primary responsibility is maintaining homeostasis; this helps the body keep balanced regarding internal processes like mood and temperature and immune responses.

Both Indica and Sativa plants contain THC and CBD, but there’s a distinct difference– Sativa plants usually have more THC while Indica has more CBD. But experts quickly point out that the amount of THC and CBD within a plant species is not completely predictable.

How They Function in the Body

THC binds to cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in order to cause high effects on the body. The “high” effects that we usually associate with cannabis are commonly associated with THC; this is why THC can make you sleepy and euphoric and can impair your movement and perception. THC is also known for its ability to decrease pain. 

CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain, while CB2 is mostly found in body tissues that contribute to immune function, such as the tonsils, thymus, and spleen. THC is found to bind more with CB2 than CB1 receptors.

In terms of effect, CBD produces effects without the “high” that comes with THC. CBD does not bind to either CB1 or CB2 receptors. However, CBD affects how THC binds with the two receptors. This explains why taking CBD along with THC seems to counter the intoxicating effects of the latter and encourages more positive effects, such as less nausea. 

CBD does interact with other non-ECS- receptors, cellular structures, and enzymes that affect pain and inflammation. It’s also important to note that other cannabinoids and compounds within Indica and Sativa- cannabigerol (CBG) and terpenes- can affect the overall results. 

How They Make the Body Feel

Indica is commonly known for giving a relaxing feeling, while Sativa is known for that energetic and uplifting feeling, the “high” effect. Experts emphasized, though, that results may vary per individual. 

As for clinical differences, there are distinct ones between Indica and Sativa. Indica is associated with easing the symptoms of these conditions:

  • Non-migraine headaches
  • Neuropathy
  • Spasticity
  • Seizures
  • Joint pain
  • Glaucoma

Indica is also more preferred to help with symptoms related to lack of sleep, sedation, and overall pain management.

It helps to experiment with high-quality Indica strains to know which one will give you the best experience.

Meanwhile, Sativa is preferred to enhance energy and weight loss. As for other conditions such as muscle pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and trauma, users feel no difference between Indica and Sativa. 

This indicates that Indicas are used more for treating medical conditions while Sativas are preferred for recreational use. It should be stressed that more research is needed to determine these distinctions.

Side Effects

Side effects of cannabis use differ from person to person. CBD-predominant cannabis products are commonly associated with the following side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite

THC-predominant cannabis products can share the same side effects stated above; but the main difference is that THC affects the brain specifically, which adds in these other effects:

  • Changes in mood
  • Impaired body movement
  • Hallucinations
  • Altered senses

The method used in consuming cannabis also has a say in the side effects you may experience. Smoking it can result in respiratory problems, while taking it orally can increase the chances of accidental poisoning.

How About Hybrids?

Hybrids are bred from parents of different types, which result in new and unique strains. Theoretically, they have a lot of beneficial medicinal properties for both parents. To create a new strain, breeders “cross” two strains and hope for a combination that will give the best medical efficacy possible

These hybrids are particularly helpful for relieving symptoms of certain conditions, such as epilepsy, lupus, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Any two strains can be crossed to produce a hybrid. Mixing Indica and Sativa is standard, with the combination known for bringing both an alert and mellow effect. But Indicas can be blended with other Indicas, and Sativas can be mixed with other Sativas.

Sativa, in particular, is more challenging to cultivate. Since it has a higher THC content that could harm some patients, breeders prefer to combine the properties of Indica and Sativa plants to tame down the more intense effects of Sativa; this will optimize their cannabis farming as well. 

These hybrid strains can become a nice compromise for patients who want to experience only the best effects and avoid the negative. For instance, a hybrid strain can ease your pain but will not make you fall asleep in the middle of the day. 

Using these strains at particular times of the day will help too. For example, you can take a Sativa-dominant hybrid in the morning for pain and nausea relief, but later you can switch to an Indica-dom strain for more potent pain relief.

How to Use the Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid Method

If you’re unsure what to take and how to use it, you can ask your doctor or friendly neighbourhood budtender to help you out with your choices. Usually, they would recommend Indicas if you want to calm down and relax. These products are perfect to use while listening to music, watching a movie, or enjoying better sleep. 

If you want the opposite and you desire an energy boost for physical activities or doing tasks such as house cleaning, then Sativas are more suitable for you. It would follow that hybrids are going to have a combination of these effects.

Are you looking for the perfect strain? The Herb Centre Craft Collections has a wide selection on our site.

Other Factors in Choosing Between Indica and Sativa

Here are the other things to consider when deciding whether an Indica or Sativa is the right choice for you.


If you’re a regular weed smoker, your tolerance is higher than those who smoke just occasionally; this means you can consume stronger or lots more weed and still feel nothing or just minimal effects. If you smoke occasionally or haven’t smoked before, the best rule is to start low and to go slow.

Body Chemistry

Knowing beforehand how a strain can affect a particular individual is impossible since everyone’s body chemistry is different. Your body may react to cannabis differently even if you smoke as frequently as the other person. A puff or two could be enough for you, while your friend could smoke an entire joint to get the effect they need.

Here’s a helpful tip: if you are prone to panic attacks, anxiety, or other adverse side effects of THC, you are better off taking a strain that is higher in CBD instead.


Your cannabis experience also depends on how much you consume and the potency of the strain you’re taking. Many popular strains sold in dispensaries can be potent, but don’t be ashamed of going for the lower THC percentage first. Remember, it’s all about finding the right potency level for you to make your cannabis experience as pleasant as it could be.

Consumption Method

The effect of a strain also depends on how you consume your weed. For instance, a puff from a vape is generally considered lighter than a puff from a joint. If you’re a beginner, skip doing dabs first because the effects are intense and immediate, and you may not be able to handle that as a novice. Edibles are an excellent option- remember to start small and to go slow to pace for long-lasting effects.

Medical History

Cannabis might interfere with certain medications, so best to keep that in mind if you’re taking anything right now. Get your doctor’s approval before starting to smoke weed if you happen to be on medications.


This is about the environment you’re in when consuming weed. Each person is different – some enjoy smoking cannabis alone, while some want it more as a social activity. If you are more of an alone person and you smoke with a group of people, it may result in a negative experience since you’re not comfortable with your setting in the first place.

FAQs: Indica vs Sativa

What is the Difference Between Indica and Sativa?

Indicas are associated with relaxing and sedating effects, while Sativas give an energetic and uplifting experience. Both botanical terms refer to a cannabis plant’s physical structure with Indica’s generally having short, wide leaves and Sativa strains are known for having thin long blades and leaves. 

Does Sativa Make You High?

Each person’s body chemistry is different; therefore, results may vary, but Sativas are known for creating a head and body high.

Does Sativa Make You Hungry and Restless?

Again, it will depend on the individual’s body chemistry, but many Sativa strains can give you the munchies. Since it has an energizing effect, it can also keep you up at night.

Will I Get High From Indica?

Some Indica strains can give you an intense body high. If you are inhaling or ingesting correctly, an Indica will 100% get you stoned.

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