What’s The Difference Between Indica & Sativa Strains?

Indica vs Sativa - The Differences

Indica vs Sativa - The Differences

Ask any cannabis ‘expert’ or budtender to precisely explain the difference between the Indica and Sativa strains and you’ll never receive the exact same answer twice.

Sure, everyone will agree that they certainly look different and have their own unique traits.

But in regards to the physical and psychoactive effects, that’s where things become murky.

The issue really stems (forgive the pun) over Sativa because everyone agrees that Indica is the ‘classic’ strain for hashish production.

Some believe that Sativa can be grown to produce a unique sensation, others say that’s hogwash, and others just play it safe and stick to the tried and tested Indica.

So what we’ll try to do in this article is to explain the key differences between what may be termed as the ‘standard’ Indica and Sativa strains of the cannabis plant.

It’s a surprisingly interesting topic, and one that ought to play a major factor when you’re considering what strain to use for both recreational and holistic CBD purposes.

What Everyone Agrees On

The best place to start explaining the difference is by dusting off the history books.

Both Indica and Sativa were first formally categorised during the 18th century.

  • Sativa plants are identified by their distinctive tall and slender growth pattern with long, thin leaves. Taking on a slightly lighter tone of green compared to their Indica cousins, they were primarily found across Europe and Western Asia, cultivated almost exclusively for their strong fibre and nutritious seeds.
  • Indica was found mostly further to the East (especially in India as the name would suggest) where it was used not just for similar purposes, but already had thousands of years of history being pressed into hashish. They are much shorter and bushier plants that also happen to grow considerably faster. Even today, it’s common to find masses of Indica plants growing freely in the wild.

So they look different and originally hail from different parts of the world, but what about hemp?

Some of you will know that hemp has a very low THC content, and this is because it’s generally agreed to be an offshoot of the naturally less intoxicating Sativa strain.

Where it becomes confusing is that while a majority of recreational marijuana comes from the Indica variant, there’s been extensive cross-breeding over the years to make some Sativa strains carry more of the psychoactive elements.

Indica & Sativa Cannabis Plants

Indica plant (left), Sativa plant (right)

Do They Have Different Effects?

If you aren’t confused yet, then prepare to be!

While most would cautiously agree that Indica is the variety that packs the most THC and will correspondingly get you more ‘stoned’, some swear that Sativa has a more psychoactive punch.

If you believe those who tow this line, Sativa is supposed to provide a ‘head high, whereas Indica delivers a ‘body high’.

For those happy enough to just pigeonhole two varieties of a plant with literally thousands of unique strains each, then fair enough, but in our estimation, it’s a far too sweeping generalisation to make.

You only need to visit a dispensary in the States or a coffeeshop in the Netherlands to sample both Indica and Sativa varieties of weed to understand the point.

Surprise, surprise – they both get you high and the difference is barely apparent. This is because unless you pick the plant in the wild, there’s almost certainly going to have been some degree of hybrid engineering in what you buy off the shelf.

Most marijuana sold commercially will have been adulterated at some stage; either to vary the effect, or to increase the yield.

What Plant Is Best For CBD?

Strains Found In CBD Oil

CBD oils are crafted from both Indica and Sativa.

Now we’ve explained that there are basically very few exact distinctions between the Indica and Sativa varieties of recreational marijuana, what about the different strains used to manufacture CBD oil?

Well, when it comes to manufacturing CBD products, you’ll find that the vast majority of manufacturers look to use plants that are naturally low in THC and high in CBD/CBDa.

Generally speaking, Indica strains tend to be preferred thanks to them having a higher yield of CBD. That being said, there are some who prefer to farm Sativa because they believe it may hold a richer portfolio of cannabinoids and terpenes (essential for those full-spectrum varieties).

To an extent, it really comes down to personal preference, and an understanding of what you ultimately want from the hemp plant.

Claiming to prefer one strain over another is really up to you. If, however, the plant is being taken for holistic purposes there are clear advantages of looking for those which retain as many cannabinoids and terpenes as possible.

Final Thoughts

We told you it was a murky question!

While on paper there are quite clear differences between the two major strains of the cannabis plant, when it comes to measuring the effects, there’s so much circumstantial and personal variation at play that it’s almost irresponsible to claim benefits for either strain.

One of the advantages of CBD is that any decent supplier will provide a comprehensive breakdown of the elements of each batch they harvest.

Always look to ask for this if it’s not published on their site already. Extracts involving the ‘whole plant’ are almost always going to be better than varieties engineered as isolates.

If you were to ask for our recommendations, we highly recommend companies such as VSAVI or Love CBD who have proven track records.