As a user, when shopping for cannabis strains or making a purchase at your local cannabis dispensary, you may notice that the cannabis ‘strains’ are usually separated into three distinct and main groups: Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid. For the most time, cannabis consumers have interchangeably and casually used these cannabis names as a standard for guessing the ensuing effects after ingestion.
Cannabis is a very interesting plant best known for its brain-altering and medicinal properties. The uses and farming of cannabis date back thousands of years. Its therapeutic and ‘spiritual’ function is evident across numerous cultures around the world throughout history.
What is a Cannabis Strain?
The terms Indica and Sativa were initially used in the 1800s to define the two most popular and distinct types of Cannabis:
Cannabis sativa is a strain with high THC/low CBD levels. It is mainly cultivated in Africa, Central America, and Western Asia.
The Sativa strain is also largely used for making fiber, and the seeds are highly valued. After ingestion, the Sativa strain is associated with energy, creativity, focus, and euphoria. Therefore, it’s best used during the day if you have many activities to do and you need a boost.
Cannabis Indica is used to describe the low THC/ high CBD variants that are usually cultivated and indigenous to East Asia. Indica grows faster than Sativa, and each plant produces more yield than a Sativa plant. Indica is sought after for its intensely relaxing effects. It may also help reduce nausea and pain and increase appetite. Because of its deep relaxation effects, Indica is better consumed at night.
Hybrid strains are still new, and they are more of them being produced every year. It is now common for both Sativa and Indica plants to have varying THC and CBD levels; these are usually hybrid strains. Despite being an illegal drug, cannabis cultivation has grown over the years, and cannabis farmers are constantly producing unique strains by combining different parent plants.
These cannabis hybrid strains are frequently produced to deliver specific effects. Hybrids are typically cultivated in greenhouses from a combination of Sativa and Indica strains. Hybrids are selected for their unique impacts. These range from reducing stress and anxiety to easing the after-effects of chemotherapy or radiation.
However, many growers and sellers in the cannabis industry are moving away from the traditional Indica, Sativa, and hybrid terms, and they have started categorizing the different “strains” as:
- High THC
- THC/CBD combined
- High CBD
The traditional terms were a bit rigid, and the new classifications allow for more precise differentiation.
Types of Cannabis Strains: How They Differ
There are so many things to know about modern marijuana and cannabis strains. Let’s explore these types of marijuana and cannabis strains below:
- Sativa Strains
- Indican Strains
- Hybrid Strains
Sativa Cannabis Strains
Sativa cannabis strains are best grown in warm weather. Also, they do well with high humidity levels. Popular regions for planting include central and south America as well as southeast Asia. When it comes to their physical characteristics, they have tall, slender strains with skinny leaves. The color of the leaves tends to be light green.
Sativa effects are known for their mind-altering state. It offers, as some like to call it, ‘head high.’ The general public opinion on Sativa effects includes an increased amount of energy complemented with better focus too. Unlike Indica strains, these are better for daytime use. If used at night, insomnia might be a side effect.
Characteristics of Sativa Strains
Sativa strains are usually tall, narrow-leaf marijuana plants that typically induce energizing effects after being consumed. If you take Sativa-dominant strains, you may feel more productive, full of energy and creativity. Because of the highly stimulating effects, Sativa strains are best for daytime when you need a boost. You want to focus on an activity.
This Sativa strain was got its name from the celebrated cannabis activist and author, Jack Herer. This strain is known for giving a sharp mix of piney and spicy notes. When consumed, most people will experience a rush of cerebral energy that is great for all daytime activities.
Looking to start your morning right with a good head rush? Jack Herer will get the job done. This strain is also great for energy boosts during exercises. Jack Herer has been a foundation for other popular Sativa strains such as Black Jack, Super Jack, and XJ-13.
As the name aptly suggests, this Sativa strain is indigenous to Durban, South Africa. The strain is arguably one of the best pure Sativa strains you will find. It’s popular for having very sticky buds that give a sweet, sometimes ammonia-like fragrance. As far as effects after consumption, Durban Poison covers all the bases. Just a little smoke will have you feeling energized and ready for the day ahead. However, too much of it can make you feel lethargic, so be aware.
This strain is the best example of why you need to be mindful of how much you smoke, as too much of it will have you taking a deep slumber.
This strain is often recommended for anyone that wants to do creative activities like painting or crafting. Just one of the best, period.
Why Do People Use Sativa Strains?
Sativa strains are popular for many different reasons. Firstly, the person consuming it might prefer a ‘head high’ rather than a ‘body high.’ In addition, other reasons may include:
- Alleviate depression symptoms
- Help with headache relief
- Decrease nausea
- Help to fight against appetite loss
- A general better focus and mental state
People believe that Sativa strains have these effects on the human mind: they contain high amounts of THC and low amounts of CBD.
Indica Cannabis Strains
Indica is one of the most popular strains available, and it’s no surprise why. Throughout this section of the article, there will be a focus on the basics of the strain.
Firstly, the Indica cannabis plant is generally grown in the harsh, dry climates of the Middle East. It tends to be a short and bushy plant with broad dark green leaves. When speaking about the bud, it tends to be a lot denser than others.
Considering the effects, the Indica strain has on the body. It tends to relax it physically. Indica is well known for its ability to provide the user with drowsiness and ‘couchlock.’ If one must be alert and productive, it may not be the best option to choose from. Indica strains are great for nighttime use and guarantee deep sleep. It shouldn’t be considered for being lucid and presentable!
Characteristics of Indica Strains
Indica plants are typically short and stocky with bushy green leaves that are wide and broad. Indica strains will usually have higher CBD levels than Sativa plants. However, the THC content isn’t necessarily low. Indica strains are known for their mellow high. They tend to decrease energy and recommend consumption after the day when you’re not driving or partaking in any activity.
This is one of the most prominent cannabis strains. The Northern Lights is a pure Indica strain that’s well-known for its ability to bloom quickly and produce a very high yield. This strain is thought to be descended from Afghani and Thai cannabis strains. It has been used countless times in producing other hybrid strains.
Its genetic profile can be found in several hybrid strains on the market today. It has a sweet & spicy aroma with subtle hints of pine, and it gives a very gentle and relaxed high.
Purple OG Kush
This is arguably the ‘celebrity’ Indica strain available. OG Kush has spread to mainstream media, and this makes it a very popular Indica strain. Not only is this strain filled with cannabis ‘buzzwords’ but Purple OG Kush also has quite the effect after consuming it.
The parent strains, OG Kush and Purple Kush give birth to Purple OG Kush, a grape/berry flavor combined with a piney earthiness. This is a strain to savor and is best consumed when you want to relax. It will leave you feeling calm, sleepy and mellow, and ‘hazed’ out.
Why Do People Use Indica Strains?
There are many reasons why people use Indica strains in their everyday life. As mentioned at the start of the article, cannabis use is entirely subjective. Some people might prefer a ‘body high’ rather than a ‘head high.’ Other reasons as to why someone would use Indica strains include:
- Pain relief throughout the body
- Reduce nausea
- Increase appetite
- Help ease insomnia symptoms
- Reduce anxiety and paranoia symptoms
There are many reasons for people to believe that Indica strains have all these healing properties. Truthfully, Indica strains have higher CBD levels than Sativa, per se. Also, most Indica plants contain an exact or very close level of CBD and THC!
Hybrid Cannabis Strains
Hybrid cannabis strains are exciting. They are formed by mixing both an Indica and Sativa. Commonly, hybrid strains are either Sativa dominant or Indica dominant. However, it can also be a perfect combination of the two.
How this strain affects the user entirely depends on the strain itself and, of course, the person’s capabilities. By capabilities, one refers to whether they are a ‘lightweight’ or ‘heavyweight.’
Characteristics of Hybrid Strains
Over the years, cannabis farmers started tinkering with Sativa and Indica genomes to try and find ways to give users the best of both worlds. That’s how hybrid strains were born. Hybrid strains deliver the best of Sativa and Indica strains. A considerable advantage for many of the hybrid strains is that they are easy to grow.
Hybrids are new and unique cannabis strains that are produced from the parents of the two main strains. A hybrid strain will theoretically have many or most of the beneficial medical properties from both its parents. Farmers can “mix” any two strains they have to generate a new strain that is “superior” and brings the best possible medical effectiveness.
The Blue Dream Strain is a Sativa-heavy hybrid that has been immortalized and become quite renowned in its indigenous state, California. The strain has earned quite a reputation for being one of the best daytime strains. Frequent users recommend it as the perfect “pick-me-up” kickstart. It’s not too overwhelming, and this makes it ideal for beginners. The main features are that it is more on being “mood-altering” rather than the typical lethargic and heavy physical high that Sativa strains are known for.
Pineapple Kush is a hybrid strain made from Pineapple and Master Kush strains. This strain is very common amongst beginner smokers. It has a light mellow taste and combines the two parent strains to give an enjoyable experience. Pineapple Kush has the best Pineapple, and Master Kush strains to give users a refreshing hybrid that is not too overwhelming. However, the Pineapple Kush strain is tough to find. It’s pretty tough to get any seeds of the original strain, so if you ever come across it, enjoy it.
The White Widow is the hybrid of a South American Sativa and a South Indian Indica. It has a considerable amount of THC, with the THC content reaching anywhere from 18% to 25%. Despite the high THC levels, the White Widow manages to be both uplifting and relaxing at the same time. It’s perfect for users who are creative individuals who might be looking for a bit of inspiration. The strain can grow anywhere, but like most hybrid cannabis strains, the best results will be seen if grown inside.
Why Do People Use Hybrid Strains?
There are a few numbers of reasons why people use hybrid strains. To some, an Indica or Sativa might not be enough on its own. That is why they might use a mixture of the two to satisfy their needs.
Many people use hybrids because the high can be much more potent. For veteran consumers, they might find that hybrids get the job done, unlike Sativa or Indica.
Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid: The Difference Between Them
This section of the article will be a deep analysis and comparison between the three strains.
Growth cycles between the three vary pretty significantly. For example, it takes much less time to grow Indica than Sativa. When speaking about Sativa in particular, they take much longer to mature. Secondly, they have shorter vegetative cycles as well as a longer flowering cycle.
These strains, on average, take about 12 weeks. However, it may take a few weeks more than this. Sativa can take up to 16 weeks. Indica strains typically have a much longer vegetative cycle than Sativa strains. In general, they also tend to be significantly shorter in flowering and growth periods.
Indicas are a short flowering crop, which is ideal if you want to harvest in 8 weeks. However, the total growth cycle is commonly between 8-12 weeks.
When comparing the scent these strains produce, it is also very different from the other. Indica strains are well known for their heavy, spicy scent. This scent can quite commonly be divided into being either sweet or sour. It is very easily distinguishable.
On the other hand, the scent of Sativa has very different. It is pretty frequently characterized as being a ‘grassy’ scent. It can even be confused as being a more natural smell.
The CBD ratio that exists between Indica dominant and Sativa dominant plants is very different. This difference, however, is much less now than before cross-breeding and genetic manipulation aimed at increasing THC levels. It is pretty standard for Indica to have much more CBD and less THC than Sativa. On the other hand, Sativas tend to have higher THC levels and lower CBD levels.
To conclude, what was said before isn’t absolute. With all the cross-breeding that exists, there are many exceptions to what’s considered normal. The mixture was chosen all comes down to personal preference—also, the reasoning behind the use in the first place.
Like the previous three bullet points, the psychoactive effects from one to the other are also very different. It is effortless to notice the difference once the substance has been consumed. The list below will point out the main differences from one to the other.
Indica-dominant strains tend to provide the user with:
- Heavy body high
- Sedation (couchlock, laziness)
- Munchies (intense hunger)
- Relaxes the mind and the body
- Promotes sleep
Sativa-dominant strains tend to provide the user with:
- Stimulating and uplifting
- Cerebral high (head high)
- May reduce or increase anxiety depending on the circumstances
- Increases focus as well as creativity
- Known for making people happy and boosting mood
- Eliminates or increase appetite depending on the user
Many of these beautiful strains users tend to implement them into their daily lives for nothing other than therapeutic use. Sometimes, they are even recommended by professionals. It is no surprise they are making their mark in the medical world.
Patients who use Indica dominated strains often report that it helps them with
- Chronic pain
- Glaucoma/intro-ocular disorders
- Low/no appetite
Patients who use Sativa dominated strains often report that it helps them with
- Chronic pain
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle spasms
- Multiple sclerosis
- Sleep apnea
It is essential to choose the correct mixture and strain to fulfill or alleviate desired symptoms or pains. As noted above, they both vary one from the other extensively.
Truthfully, a mixture of both (hybrid) might be the best option if a complete experience is what the consumer is looking for.
How To Choose The Best Strain For You
In today’s cannabis culture, a limited number of pure Indica or Sativa strains can be found. The majority of Cannabis produced and widely available is hybrid cannabis strains identified as either ‘Indica or Sativa dominant. Researchers and farmers note that the industry is moving towards homogeneity and blurred lines: Indica, Sativa, and even hemp are now simply different varieties of one genus, Cannabis.
The biggest differentiating factor is now the cannabinoid and cannabis terpene profile of each plant. This will give you a rough idea of what might be suitable for you, depending on use cases.
Depending on what effect you’re looking for after taking the Cannabis, the strain you have will help you. Consumers often cite that Indica dominant strains are beneficial in reducing anxiety or helping you fall asleep. They are great for end-of-day relaxation with little to no activity.
Sativa strains tend to sharpen your focus and help you gain a temporary lift if you want some creativity/motivation. Usual after-effects linked with Sativa strains include feeling happy, hyperactive, focus and euphoria. This makes Sativa strains perfect for daytime usage if you want lots of energy and a boost to get you through the day.
In places where Cannabis is less legal for consumption, users can visit any dispensaries to find out information on how best to use and enjoy Cannabis. The most significant advantage of these dispensaries is that they will give you information tailored to your specific use cases, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned user.
Many of the medical doctors in the field recommend 5mg for women and 10 mg for men who are starting. These amounts vary from one person to the next. Still, it’s better to start with small amounts and increase the dosage as one becomes experienced. You can smoke, vaporize, use tinctures, drops, or edibles. Play around and experiment with all the methods to find the ones that work best for you.
The Legality of Cannabis Strains
Cannabis and all its strains are still illegal for farming and recreational use in most parts of the world. However, this hasn’t stopped the growth of the cannabis industry. In the few places that Cannabis is legal, you can only have a certain amount of the drug for personal consumption. However, with Cannabis being touted as an alternative treatment method, the world is slowly opening up to this once highly controversial drug.
The cannabis industry is projected to be worth several billion in the next decade. This gives it an excellent opportunity to be seen as an economic driver rather than an illicit drug that can be abused. Legalization also means that doctors and researchers can freely and effectively conduct research and find the full spectrum of benefits offered by the plant.
Since Cannabis is now more readily available today than ever before, consumers need clear and accurate information on the numerous effects of the many cannabis strains available for both medical and recreational purposes. Knowing the strain’s composition, physiological and mental effects will greatly help consumers (especially beginners).
Even researchers and clinicians choose the most appropriate and effective product. With cannabis farmers also still discovering new hybrid cannabis strains, they need all the support to create various strains tailormade for various ailments and situations.
With the help of scientists, strains with different levels of THC and CBD can be created to suit various users with various tolerance levels. Each plant may have unique medicinal and recreational purposes that help a certain group.
Researchers need federal and legal backing to carry out more studies to understand better this complex and versatile plant and its effects on humans.