According to recent studies, there are nearly as many cannabis smokers in the U.S. right now as cigarette smokers. People consume it for various medical and recreational reasons. When looking for the optimal strain, most people aren’t aware of the differences between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strains.
If you’re a recreational or medicinal marijuana user, you need to know precisely which strains to consume. There are a plethora of different strains, each with its individual effects.
Read on if you wish to learn how to find the best strain for your needs.
Why & How To Categorize Cannabis
Categorizing cannabis into groups allows us to predict which specific strains offer a particular set of effects. Understanding the differences between Indica, Sativa, Hybrid, or Ruderalis is essential in finding the most beneficial and effective strain for your needs.
Every cannabis strain is unique. However, grouping these miraculous plants by fundamental characteristics enables us to manage multiple things effectively. One is to narrow down the alternatives on a dispensary menu.
It’s convenient to categorize cannabis into three groups
- Indica strains are what people think about when they imagine enjoying cannabis & dozing off.
- Sativa strains are popular with people who like to stay active after enjoying cannabis. They’re helpful for physical activities, creative pursuits, and social gatherings.
- Hybrid strains include all strains that cannot be labeled as Indica or Sativa. Sativa and Indica can dominate the characteristics of these strains, or a balance may determine their properties.
If you choose the wrong strain, you won’t appreciate the power of cannabis completely.
Can We Categorize Cannabis Differently?
Yes! Some in the cannabis industry are migrating away from Indica and Sativa. They’ve started to classify cannabis strains or, more correctly, “chemovars” (chemical varieties) as
- Type I: high THC
- Type II: THC/CBD combined
- Type III: high CBD
Biochemically, there are different strains of cannabis. But the distinction between Indica and Sativa – common in lay literature – is perhaps nonsense. We, or cannabis experts, cannot judge the biochemical content of a particular strain by its branching, height or leaf morphology.
If you consume cannabis for medical purposes, you may select a specific cannabis strain for anxiety, depression, pain, or inflammation. Talk to your physician before consuming cannabis. And if you’re a recreational user, you can opt for a strain for a good time with your buddies.
Sativa strains are popular for their “head high,” a stimulating effect. They can help reduce anxiety and stress and increase focus and creativity. Indica strains are usually associated with full-body effects. They can increase deep relaxation and reduce insomnia.
Various strains of cannabis have different characteristics, and several factors come into play when finding the optimal strain. The terpenes and cannabinoids produced by the plant are two crucial factors.
If you’re familiar with essential oils or aromatherapy, you should already know something about terpenes. Cannabis plants produce terpenes. These aromatic compounds provide the enticing aroma of flowers, fruits, and oils.
You can find terpenes in plants like lemons, lavender, hops, pepper, pine needles, and cannabis. The latter can produce hundreds of terpenes at various levels.
Terpenes produce the taste and aroma of various cannabis plants. Different terpenes lead to unique tastes, including fruity, sour, sweet, earthy, spicy, and herbal. Cannabis connoisseurs with refined palates can guess which terpenes are dominant in a strain just by tasting or smelling it. Additionally, terpenes can tell us much more than just the aroma.
The terpene profile of a particular plant has a massive impact on its effects. People tend to choose peppermint essential oil for working and lavender essential oil for relaxing. Similarly, cannabis terpenes have unique characteristics.
It is believed that cannabis strain terpenes affect how the body interacts with cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Myrcene is the most common terpene in many weed strains, known to help patients fight conditions like anxiety and insomnia.
The cannabis plant contains many chemical compounds; each creates a unique harmony of effects. THC and CBD are the most well-known and desirable cannabinoids, the leading causes of the therapeutic and recreational impacts of cannabis.
THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) makes the individual “high.” It can also induce hunger and relieve pain.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid known to alleviate inflammation, anxiety, pain, and many other ailments.
When choosing the best strain, try to view it from a chemist’s point of view. After becoming familiar with THC and CBD, you can look at each strain based on its cannabinoid profile.
Consumers seeking a strong euphoric experience typically opt for these strains. People suffering from pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia are fond of THC-dominant plants.
However, some people feel anxious after consuming THC-dominant plants. Others dislike the side effects associated with THC. If you belong to one of these groups, you can try a plant with a higher CBD content.
CBD-dominant strains contain trace amounts of THC. Hence, those highly sensitive to THC can instead consume CBD-rich strains.
And balanced THC/CBD strains contain comparable levels of THC and CBD; they offer mild euphoria together with symptom relief. These strains are good options for novice consumers searching for a concise and valuable introduction to the cannabis signature high.
Cannabis compounds– in particular cannabinoids and terpenes– found in every cannabis flower can synergically combine to create what’s known as the “Entourage Effect.” These compounds work together to create an effect greater than each could provide individually. Together with your body’s chemistry, they form an entourage that supports a larger goal.
This theory implies that terpenes and cannabinoids together result in greater efficacy. Many terpenes are said to buffer or enhance the impact of key cannabinoids like THC.
Indica vs Sativa; Origins
Sativa means “things that are cultivated,” a description that fits cannabis well.
The cannabis plant originates from western Eurasia, but it has found its way to multiple other regions. Growers have been harvesting cannabis Sativa for its hemp fiber and seeds. In the late 1700s, a French biologist discovered another species of cannabis, noticeably different from the Sativa. He named this new species Cannabis Indica, referencing where they found the plant, namely, India.
The new species was much like its predecessor, and cultivators could grow it for quality fiber and seeds. However, the new strain had an intoxicating effect that Sativa didn’t. And during the 1800s, it became widely known in Europe as a therapeutic remedy.
Nowadays, the strains are commonly known as Indica and Sativa, but it’s debatable how much these two differ. Both of them have medicinal, recreational, and industrial uses.
How Cannabis Impacts The Human Body
The cannabis plant’s impact varies depending on the individual. It wouldn’t be enough to naively dub all cannabis as “stimulating” or “sedating.”
Imagine trying an Indica with sedatives or a Sativa with mental clarity. You experience these effects because of the molecular compounds and the associated interaction with your body chemistry and physiology.
Sativa vs Indica
The intense aromas that emanate from many cannabis strains are due to terpenes. These are the unique molecules in the herb that have strong similarities to cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
If you are somewhat familiar with the cannabis hyper world, you’ll probably guess that a particular strain is classified as Indica or Sativa based on its cannabinoid profile. But it’s a terpene that determines the identification of that strain.
Indicas are the shorter, bushy cannabis plants. They typically grow in cooler climates, developing a short and stocky build. They have chunky and shaggy leaves that extend widely.
Indica grows faster than Sativa and produces more buds. Furthermore, Indica buds are denser than Sativa.
Indica plants are native to India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. They have adapted to the drier, harsher, and more turbulent climate. Many active users prefer to enjoy Indica at nighttime because the strain provides them with a body high.
You can utilize the Indica strain as a nightcap or sleep aid while reading a book or watching a movie. Indica strains contain higher CBD and THC content. The higher CBD level explains why it can offer an intense body high while providing therapeutic effects. The impacts include relaxation, reducing nausea, pain relief, and increasing appetite.
Popular Indica strains include
- Hindu Kush
- Afghan Kush
- Bubba Kush
- Blue Cheese
- Northern Lights
- Granddaddy Purple
However, it is essential to know that these strains grow optimally in favorable environments. Therefore, even if a strain is identical, it may grow better under conditions A than under conditions B, for example.
Aroma & Cannabinoid Content
In general, Indicas have a more intense flavor than Sativas. But the taste depends on the strain you buy and the terpenes involved. Consumers report pungent earthy, skunky, and wood-like aromas. These smells are due to the high myrcene content, which is entirely strain-dependent.
Other Indicas have a harsh, sweet, fruity, and earthy aroma. Some have hints of diesel, spice, and citrus. Overall, Indicas have a distinct flavor somewhat similar to their scent.
Indica strains usually carry a higher content of CBD than Sativas, making them more balanced. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean the THC percentage is lower; there are many other cannabinoids. Indica strains typically contain 20-22% THC (sometimes higher).
Common effects associated with Indicas include feeling euphoric, relaxed, happy, and sleepy. These are commonly known as “nighttime” strains, consumed for relaxing and unwinding at the end of the night.
Sativa strains initially grow in hot and dry climates in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central America. Sativas are thin and tall and have narrow leaves.
Sativas usually contain higher levels of THC– the intoxicating and euphoria-inducing component of cannabis– and lower concentrations of CBD. These strains stimulate and energize; they have mentally stimulating effects that enhance focus and clarity. People use the strains for morning or daytime.
Examples of popular Sativas include:
- Haze Berry
- Acapulco Gold
- Sour Diesel
- Panama Red
- Durban Poison
- Green Crack
- Jack Herer
- Lemon Haze
- Super Silver Haze
Aroma & Cannabinoid Content
The aroma and flavor of Sativas are sometimes more intense than Indica. Users say that some Sativas have a robust sweet and still sour flavor with hints of skunk and pine. And regarding aroma, Sativa’s limonene content provides a nice mango-like, sweet smell with floral notes.
Sativas commonly contain much lower quantities of CBD but higher doses of THC than Indica strains. The CBD level can be as low as 0.2-1%, while the THC content increases above 20-22%.
Common effects associated with Sativas include “uplifting”, “happy”, “euphoric”, and “energetic”. These are often considered “daytime” strains, used to feel productive, creative, and focused.
People use Sativa cannabis strains for multiple reasons. For example, some prefer the head high over the “body high” from Indica strains. Other common causes include:
- Helping ease depression symptoms
- Easing headaches
- Decreasing nausea
- Helping combat appetite loss
- Superior focus.
Sativa can potentially assist with these issues since the strain contains higher amounts of THC and lower CBD.
Some say Indicas are suitable for snacks and comfort, Sativas for alertness and activity, and Hybrids for anything in between. However, the main similarities between the strains are physical; i.e., Indicas grow like other Indicas.
This characteristic is critical for growers to cultivate the most favored cannabis possible. But that isn’t a predictor of its effects.
Some people talk about Indicas, Sativas, and Hybrids because they hear those terms repeatedly. An experienced budtender may help find an appealing strain than memorizing the names and characteristics.
However, it is advisable to understand and use the terms that suit your exact needs. For example, tell the budtender if you feel calm and sleepy. And if you wish to feel euphoric and inspired, inform the budtender.
Breeders introduce hybrids from plants that are derived from Indica and Sativa plants. Cannabis strains have a long history of crossbreeding, mostly underground to evade authorities. As a result, strains with pure Indica or Sativa ancestry are rare. Most strains labeled “Indica” or “Sativa” are hybrids that carry genetics from both subspecies.
Hybrid weed varieties are genetically derived from Sativas and Indicas. Therefore, their effects can be very similar to those of Indicas, Sativas, or both. Common effects include happiness, exhilaration, euphoria, energy, and relaxation. But the results depend on which hybrid and which products the parent strains can produce.
Looking at a hybrid’s parent strains (its lineage) can give you a better sense of what effects it will produce. If it has more Indica in its heritage, it might be more associated with Indica strains.
Landrace Strains & Heirlooms
Landrace strains have evolved naturally within their native environments. Landrace strains were not bred and are not hybrids. Hence, they can be pure examples of Sativa or Indica, with no manipulations or interference from humans. These strains are typically 100 percent Sativa or Indica, the outcome of tens of thousands of years of inbreeding in a particular geography and weather climate.
A landrace strain cultivated outside of its native environment, such as plants or seeds grown in Illinois that originated on another continent, is called an heirloom. They also have their pure Indica or Sativa characteristics. But such strains lose some of their unique properties when grown outside the climate they originally belong to.
Examples of Landrace strains include:
- Durban Poison, a Sativa from South Africa
- Afghan Indica, from Afghanistan
- Malawi Gold, a Sativa from Southeastern Africa
- Panama Red, a Sativa from Panama.
Potential Risks & Side Effects
Although consuming cannabis is often associated with potential benefits, it can also lead to unwanted side effects, including
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
These effects are primarily associated with THC and not CBD or other cannabinoids. Also, the consumption method may increase risks for side effects.
For example, vaping or smoking cannabis can irritate airways and lungs, potentially leading to coughing and respiratory problems.
Oral cannabis consumption, such as cookies or gummies, is less likely to affect your overall health after ingesting cannabis (especially THC-rich). The body converts the THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which produces more potent psychoactive effects lasting for hours and even days in some people.
Understanding the main differences between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strains can help us understand various cannabis plants better. With this information, you can choose the right strain for the sound effects you want.
However, distinguishing these three strains alone isn’t sufficient to find the ideal variety for your needs. You also have to think of other vital information, such as the chemical varieties and interactions of specific strains. Check out all our flower products, and talk to our friendly budtender if you require more assistance!