Sativa vs. Indica: What Is The Difference?

by greenrush
Sativa vs. Indica: What's the Difference

Like any other plant, cannabis has more than just one variation of strain; the types of strains are sativa vs. indica. There are currently more than 1,000 cannabis strains in existence. If you've ever walked into a dispensary, the selection is often overwhelming. Sometimes, it is even hard to choose the perfect strain because not all marijuana is curated the same way. 

We will be taking a look at the differences between Sativa vs. Indica. From appearance to aroma to terpenes to cannabinoids, Sativa and Indica are two unique forms of the cannabis plant that bring us the plant's healing and therapeutic properties. We will also be taking a look into hybrids and how those compare respectively to Sativa and Indica. 

The Origin of Sativa and Indica

Since the mid-1700s, the words Sativa and Indica have been the cornerstone of the cannabis lexicon as we know it today. While many cannabis consumers consider Sativa and Indica the primary types of strains, however, the origin of Cannabis Sativa goes way back. 

Cannabis comes in the form of two subspecies: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. "What's the difference between Sativa and Indica?" you might ask. We're going to dive into the differences right here so cannabis consumers can discover which strain is the best match to heal their ailment most efficiently!

What is Cannabis Sativa

The psychoactive plant Cannabis Sativa (or Cannabis S.) was first discovered by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. At the time, Linnaeus believed Sativa was the only species of the genus Cannabis. Cannabis Sativa, in particular, is found primarily in hot, dry climates with long sunny days. These include Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, and western portions of Asia. 

What is Cannabis Indica

Correspondingly, the term Indica dates back to the late 18th century, when a French Biologist named Jean-Baptiste Lamarck identified the strain as a separate species from Cannabis Sativa. While observing the plant's physical characteristics, Lamarck recognized interesting differences in India's cannabis plants - we will get into the plant's physical make-up in a bit. Cannabis indica is native to Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. The plants have adapted to the often harsh, dry, and turbulent climate of the Hindu Kush mountains.

So, What Are the Differences?

The differences between sativa vs. indica. may seem apparent at first. Not only are the two strains comparable in their effects after consumption, but the Sativa and Indica names are stark in contrast. However, did you know the dissimilarities of Sativa and Indica originate down to the cannabis roots, literally? Here are the differences of sativa vs. indica:

Plant Composition


Cannabis Sativa plants grow to be tall - sometimes taller than 12 feet - and slender and have long and thin leaves, almost finger-like. Traditionally, Sativa plants grow and mature slower than Indica plants and have a longer flowering time. The slow growth means that, on average, the yield from a Sativa plant grown simultaneously as an Indica plant will be a bit lower. Cannabis Sativa also appears to be a lighter shade of green than Indica plants. 

Cannabis Sativa genetics come from the equator's warmth, and these strains can handle heat much better than Indica plants. Accordingly, individuals who garden indoors throughout the summer do not have to worry about costly temperature control.

sativa vs indica


Cannabis Indica plants are opposite of the Sativa strains and are typically short, bushy plants with wide, chunky leaves. Indica plants grow faster and have a shorter flowering time with a higher yield than the Sativa plant. They also require less light to grow, making them ideal for indoor growing where an excess amount of direct sunlight might not be an option. Many breeders opt to grow more Indica strains due to its faster-growing time, leading to increased profits.

sativa vs indica

Sativa vs. Indica Effects


Sativa is best known for its cerebral effects; put merely, Sativa produces a head high. Sativa strains are best for daytime uses because they can be uplifting and euphoric. Additionally, Sativa is known for sparking creativity and even an increased feeling of energy.

The major therapeutic qualities of Sativa strains include:

  • anti-anxiety
  • anti-depressant
  • treats chronic pain
  • increases focus and creativity
  • increases serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of learning, mood, sleep, anxiety, and appetite)
  • for day time use


While the Sativa strain is excellent for its cerebral head high, Indica plants tend to provide a more full-body high. For the most part, these are the strains to stick with for nighttime use.

The major therapeutic qualities of Indica strains include:

  • increased mental relaxation
  • muscle relaxation
  • decreases nausea
  • decreases acute pain
  • increases appetite
  • increases dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers)
  • for night time use

Myth: 'Indica' means sedative, 'Sativa' means stimulating.

Fact: The terms​ Indica​ and​ Sativa​ actually refers to plant biology, not effect.

Therapeutic Uses


In the medical world, health practitioners often provide Sativa strains to people with mood disorders, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. As mentioned above, these strains can also be the perfect choice for patients looking to increase their creativity levels. Historically, Sativa strains have been the go-to for artists and musicians alike. To add, medicinal cannabis products made from Cannabis Sativa plants have lower CBD and higher THC counts.


Indica strains can also treat various medical conditions and aid in pain relief from various diseases such as Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson's Disease. Its effects are also significant for those with insomnia and eating disorders. The Indica strain is all about full-body relaxation and is an excellent fit for anyone with chronic pain or several sleep disorders. Further, medicine produced from Cannabis Indica plants have higher CBD and lower THC levels.

But, What About Hybrids?

Now that we have discussed sativa vs. indica, here is where things get a bit more scientific. A hybrid is created when a strain is bred from parents of different types, i.e., mixing a Sativa and Indica to create something entirely new. 

A hybrid strain is basically what the name suggests: a thing made by combining two different elements. Breeding cannabis from parents of different strain types - a Sativa and Indica - will create an entirely new strain. Genetic manipulation allows breeders to target and cater to specific medicinal needs since the flower can be grown to possess both parent plants' qualities.

While it is common to crossbreed a Sativa with an Indica, hybrids can also contain two parents of the same strain. Hybrids are usually either Sativa-dominant, Indica-dominant, or 50/50 blends. One example of a popular hybrid is the Moby Dick strain, which consists of 60% Sativa and 40% Indica, mixing both Haze and White Widow. The popular AK-47, Sour Diesel, and Headband strains are Sativa-dominant hybrids. 

In contrast, Indica-dominant hybrids include Skywalker OG, GSC, and Blackberry Kush. When it comes to 50/50 hybrids, look for Blue Dream, Purple Diesel, and Super Silver Haze, to name a few of the most popular weed strains in California. The possibilities are quite limitless. For obvious reasons, hybrids consistently dominate the cannabis market.

Why Does It Matter?

Becoming familiar with the differences between Sativa and Indica is essential because each strain produces its unique psychoactive high. Effects of Sativa, like creativity and energy, are more useful for daytime than Indica, which will produce a couch-locking body high. That said, everybody's body chemistry is different, so consumers may experience high effects that are not traditional strain reactions. 

Moreover, learning about the differences between Sativa and Indica will make the next dispensary shopping experience a little bit easier. With the proper education and knowledge, cannabis can become the most remarkable remedy of all.

Possible Side Effects

Although cannabis use is often associated with potential benefits, it can also produce unwanted side effects.

This includes:

  • dry mouth
  • dry eyes
  • dizziness
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • lethargy
  • increased heart rate
  • decreased blood pressure

Sativa vs. Indica: Now You Know The Basics

Now that we have gone over the many differences between Sativa vs. Indica and hybrids, it should be easier to settle on the ideal cannabis strain. A Sativa-dominant flower is what one should go for if they are trying to fight off depression and anxiety or need a creative boost. On the other hand, if someone is seeking pain relief, sleep aids, or overall body and mind relaxation, an Indica-dominant strain is a go-to. Remember that hybrids exist not only because they can, but because they are necessary and more focused and targeted towards certain types of ailments and medicinal needs. Sometimes it is nice to have the head high and creativity of a Sativa while still enjoying the relaxing effects of an Indica.

The next time walking into a dispensary won't feel nearly as intimidating as before reading this article.

Strains for Days

Now, more aware, confident, and informed, knowing the critical differences between sativa vs. indica will make the shopping experience much better. Put that brain to work and try finding the best strain with options from greenrush cannabis delivery and pickup.

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