Indica vs. Sativa: Understanding Cannabis Strains

Indica vs. Sativa: Know Your Cannabis Subspecies

If you've ever shopped for medical marijuana or hemp derived THC products you have heard of indica, sativa, and hybrid. This terminology is most often used to determine the expected effects of a particular strain. This is commonplace and widely accepted by many.


Well, is this common practice based on anything other than assumptions and generalities? We're not saying it's wrong, but there may be something more to viewing strains in a different way. Is there science to support this simplistic approach to choosing a cannabis strain that's right for you?


What methods are there for determining cannabis strains effects?

There is a newer way to view cannabis strains that go beyond the classic indica, sativa, hybrid method for determining a strains effect.


This newer method instead takes a look at the compounds that make up the strain, the cannabinoids and terpenes. This chemical profile is what is thought to impact the effects more so than the common classifications given to strains.


As the cannabis industry continues to move towards this new system that focuses on the plants chemical structure over the effects it produces, suggestions and recommendations to consumers are becoming more based on science.


Of course, with anything new, it takes time to gain widespread adoption. You will still find a large percentage of the industry still basing recommendations on strains based on effects. This method does, however, make for a more simplified explanation and is based on common terminology many people have heard of.


indica vs sativa, understanding the basics

Indica vs. sativa vs hybrid: understanding the basics

Those who consume cannabis and other cannabinoids are face with a daunting selection of cannabis products. This plentiful selection of different strains can be quite the task to navigate. For those looking to dial in the perfect experience targeted to their specific needs, selecting the specific strain to accomplish this is very important.


Whether you are new to cannabis use or have been involved in the cannabis community using medical marijuana for a long time, most have heard of the terms Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. But what exactly are they are how do they impact the psychoactive effects and benefits the user gets?


What is a sativa strain?

Most consumers tend to notice sativa effects as an energizing, stimulating, and uplifting effect, which is often associated with creating a "head high".


The origins of cannabis sativa plants include Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The hot, dry, and sunny environment of these areas are what make the cannabis sativa plant thrive. While sativa's tend to have a lower ratio of CBD to THC. This relationship of THC and CBD are what define the effects of a sativa.


The physical characteristics of the sativa species of cannabis is best described as being very tall, able to grow more than 12 feet tall. Sativa plants tend to not only be tall but are thin with very thing sativa leaves. They also take longer to fully mature than other types of cannabis and produce less sativa flower than pure indica plants.


benefits of a sativa strain

Benefits of sativa strains

Because sativa strains tend to produce a cerebral or mind high, those who choose to use a sativa dominant strain often experience increased productivity, euphoria, and creativity compared to the relaxation and lethargy associated with indica's.


These stimulating effects makes many sativa strains a good option for daytime use and for those looking to be productive in their day-to-day activities. Sativa's tend to be a good option for those looking to bring out their creative side.


Some popular sativa strains you may have heard of include:


  • Jack Herer

  • Sour Diesel

  • Green Crack

  • Sour Lemon Haze

  • Tangie

  • Amnesia Haze

  • Super Lemon Haze


What is an indica strain?

Couch lock is a term often tossed around when talking about indicas. This species of cannabis is sometimes even referred to as "in da couch", which can be a helpful way to remember the common effects associated with this particular strain.


Indicas tend to favor the harsh, dry, and stormy conditions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, and India. The cannabis indica is native to these areas, which produce indica plants that are short and stocky with wide leaves. Indica plants grow faster and produce more indica flower than sativa plants.


Indica strains tend to be a more CBD dominant strains. This doesn't necessarily mean that there is less CBD in the indica plant but simply that there is a higher amount of THC. This relationship of THC and CBD in these particular strains are what define the effects of an indica.


benefits of an indica strain

Benefits of Indica strains

Common effects associated with an Indica are the full body effects or "body high". Consumers experience an intense relaxation along with a heavy weight that overcomes them with often times a tingly face and limbs.


Indica effects tend to include relaxation, euphoria, grogginess, and a sedating effect. It is often times used to help consumers unwind and relax. This can be of extreme value of those who suffer from insomnia or just have a hard time falling asleep. Indica strains are sometimes referred to as nighttime strains.


Some popular indica strains you may have heard of include:


  • Northern Lights

  • Purple Punch

  • Granddaddy Purple

  • Zkittles

  • Ice Cream Cake

  • Hindu Kush


What is a Hybrid strain?

Hybrid strains are creations bred from both species of cannabis. There is a very long history of cross breeding cannabis plants, because of this it is very rare for any strain to be considered a pure indica or pure sativa.


These unique hybrid cannabis strains often have different physical characteristics based on the combination of the parent plants. The same can be said about their CBD to THC content ratio. Many growers specifically breed these strains with the goal to increase the THC percentage.


Benefits of Hybrid strains

The benefits and effects of hybrid strains is that they combine two plants in order to create a happy middle ground between indica and sativa plants, creating a hybrid strain that produces both a body high along with a cerebral high.


Because two plants are bred together to create these new and unique strains, hybrid effects often lean towards one strain or another. For example, sativa dominant hybrid strains produce different effects than sativa dominant hybrid strains.


Growers tend to select hybrids for their unique traits and abilities to impact specific needs. These benefits can range widely from reducing anxiety to helping with symptoms of cancer treatments.


Some popular hybrid strains you may have heard of include:


  • Pineapple Express

  • Blue Dream

  • Train Wreck

  • Gelato

  • OG Kush

  • Wedding Cake


What Determines the effects of Indica vs. Sativa?

There are a variety of factors that impact the effects of different strains. Not to mention that the same strain may impact one person differently than another person. However, the key factors that determine a strains effects come down to the two major cannabinoids contained in the plant.


These major cannabinoids are CBD and THC. Each are responsible for different effects in the body however both are absorbed by the same glands or receptors in the body. Sativa dominant strains tend to have a higher ratio of THC compared to CBD while indica dominant strains tend to have a higher ratio of CBD compared to THC.


The way THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors impacts the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body with will affect everyone differently based on personal characteristics of that individual and the consumption method used.


how do you choose the right strain for you?

How do you choose the right strain for you?

There are a couple different ways to approach choosing a strain to suit your individual needs and goals. The most common and simplistic way to do this is through the use of the Indica, Sativa, Hybrid method. Another method, which is more grounded in science is the cannabinoid and terpene method. The main difference between these two approaches is simply the way that each strain is viewed.


For those just beginning to dip their toes into cannabis and other hemp derived cannabinoids the Indica, Sativa, Hybrid method is a great way to get started. For those who are more experienced and have a deeper understanding of the nuances of the cannabis plant, exploring these strains on a deeper level through the cannabinoid and terpen method might be the best way to go.


What is the Indica, Sativa, Hybrid method?

This method has been used for a very long time by many as very straightforward way to classify strains based on the species of cannabis. These classifications are rooted in the generalized effects of each of these species.


This simplicity makes those who are unfamiliar or who do not have a deep understanding of the many components of the cannabis plant. It's either up, down, or somewhere in the middle, making it much easier to understand and digest.


Even though this method makes the selection process much easier on the consumer, the cannabis industry has shifted away from this method in favor of a method that is more backed by science. Enter the cannabinoid and terpene method, which we will take a closer look at shortly.


How to use the indica, sativa, hybrid method

Indica and sativa strains are the two primary strains, each offering vastly different effects for the users. Hybrid strains fall into the happy medium between these two.


Indica is typically chosen by those looking for the strong sedative and relaxing effects. Indica's are usually used in the later part of the day when users are looking for nice relaxing body high to unwind from the day. The strong calming effects make it best suited for this.


Whereas sativa is often selected by those looking for the uplifting and energetic effects. This is best chosen for someone who is looking to stay active and be productive or even looking to spark their creative side. This is one of the better options to be used during the day. Hybrids will produce a mixture of effect from Indica and Sativa.


The indica, sativa, hybrid method is simply choosing a strain that best suits your intended use and preferences based on the expected effects of these strains.


What is the cannabinoid and terpene method?

If Indica and sativa isn't the best predictor of a strains expected effects, then what is?


A more effective way to determine the effects of different weed and hemp strains is to take a closer look at the chemical compounds that they are comprised of.


The main compounds the impart these effects are cannabinoids and terpenes. The combination of these compounds working together in what is called the entourage effect to produce the distinctive high.


what are cannabinoids

What are cannabinoids?

There are hundreds of chemical compounds that make up the cannabis plant. Each of these compounds produce unique effects with the primary compounds being called cannabinoids. CBD and THC are the two major cannabinoids which produce both therapeutic and recreational effects.


THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical substance the many first think of when they think about weed or marijuana. The psychoactive effects it produces are the main distinguishing effect with benefits such as pain and nausea relief.


CBD (cannabidiol) produces non psychoactive effects and therefore is non-intoxicating. It's potential benefits and uses include pain and anxiety relief along with its possible ability to reduce inflammation.


What are terpenes?

Terpenes are naturally occurring aromatic compounds that can be found in both plants and some animals. They are present all around us. In the context of cannabis and hemp, they are responsible for the aromas and flavors, and even the color of the plant.


Terpenes are what make certain strains smell or taste different from others. They are also now thought to go beyond that and provide a synergistic effect alongside different cannabinoids to boost their beneficial properties ranging from therapeutic to mood-altering effects.


Altogether there are over 150 different types of terpenes, most of which are only present in very small trace amounts. The more prominent terpenes are what work together to give popular strains their distinct and unique characteristics.


The four most common cannabis terpenes are:


  • Myrcene

  • Caryophyllene

  • Limonene

  • Terpinolene


Even though we know that cannabinoids and terpenes impact a strains effect, it is unknown to what extend this happens and how combinations of different terpenes can affect this. We do know that the first step in figuring out how a strain will make you feel is by looking at how much THC and CBD a strain contains. From there, terpenes build off of that.


How to use the cannabinoid and terpene method

This method focuses on looking at both cannabinoids and terpene content of a strain. This allows for strains to be broken down into three general types:


  • Type I: low in CBD and high in THC

  • Type II: equal parts of CBD and THC (1:1 ratio)

  • Type III: high CBD, low in THC


The first step in this method is to choose the cannabinoid type from the list above. Certain cannabinoids will have a higher ratio of CBD to THC whereas others will be higher in THC to CBD, and some will be equal parts.


The last step is to determine which strains contain high amounts of terpenes that produce the desired effect you are looking for. You can find a strains terpene profile on many online sites. Take note of the strains that you enjoy and what terpenes they are high in. After a while you will be able to determine which, you prefer and which you did not enjoy.


indica vs sativa faqIndica vs. sativa FAQs


How do indica strains make you feel?

Indica strains are known to produce sedative like effects often helping users relax and unwind. Indica strains are best used in the evening before bed as they can help many people fall asleep.


Does indica or sativa make you hungry?

Typically, all THC products will result in an increase of appetite. The severity of that is dependent upon many factors to include a person's individual body chemistry, dosage, and tolerance to cannabis.


How do sativa strains make you feel?

Sativa dominant strains produce uplifting energetic effects making this strain a great daytime use option. Many people experience an increase in creativity and productivity when using a sativa strain.


What are the differences between cannabis strains?

Cannabis strains can be differentiated by the effects they produce, for example indica, sativa, or hybrid. They can also be differentiated by their chemical makeup to include their ratio of CBD to THC content along with their terpene profile. All of these are factors in the effects a specific strain will produce.


Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid, which is right for you?

We touched on the common terminology this is most often used to describe a strain's expected effects and we even dove into an entirely different way to look at choosing a specific strain that fits your needs the best. So, no matter if indica or sativa is right for you, you know how to approach the decision.


Regardless of the method used to choose a strain, the main outcome remains the same. There are so many different cannabis strains and options to choose from. Keep in mind that everyone's tolerance and body chemistry along with dosage and consumption method will all impact your experience with cannabis products, no matter the strain you choose.


If you are looking for a wide selection of strain specific hemp derived cannabinoids, Everyday Delta has you covered. We offer a wide selection of products ranging from Delta 9, Delta 8, HHC, and THC-O in all of the popular strains.