Knowledge Base

The difference between Indica and Sativa Cannabis Plants

By September 13, 2019 No Comments

When you decide to purchase cannabis, one of the first things you need to consider is the type of strain you want. There is actually a huge range of strains on the market with variances from lots of sellers and producers. However, the two main strains are Indica and Sativa. You will often see cannabis strains marketed with these two terms. For instance, a strain could be described as ‘Indica dominant.’ This simply means that the strain is a blend however it is predominantly Indica. This can also be expressed as a percentage to clearly highlight the type of strain that you are purchasing.

So, why is understanding the difference between Indica and Sativa important? Well, by exploring the different options here you can usually determine the impact and effect that a particular strain is going to provide. This is due to the fact that each strain tends to have different impacts on the body and the mind.

Generally, an Indica strain will provide relaxing sensations for the user. In contrast, Sativa plants are going to provide energy or perhaps mental inspiration. Let’s explore these two options in more detail.


Before we dive into the two strains, it’s worth considering the origins. The terms Indica and Sativa were first developed in the 18th century. As you are probably aware, they were used to describe two different types of cannabis. Sativa was named by Carl Linneaus and was used for hemp plants that were found throughout Europe. In contrast, Indica was used by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and described the strains that were discovered throughout India. These were harvested to produce hash.

Cannabis Indica

Due to the relaxing quality, this strain will typically be used at night or in the evening. It does impact the level of dopamine and affects the reward and pleasure system of the brain. It will usually have a higher CBD and lower THC. Ultimately, this means that it is less likely to provide the traditional high and as such is favored as a medicinal strain. As well as providing relaxation it will often help with levels of nausea, pain and appetite.

For producers, it’s worth noting that these plants are bushy and short with wider leaves. You should also be aware that this plant will grow faster particularly when compared to Sativa strains.

Cannabis Sativa

This plant is basically the exact opposite of Indica. It has narrow leaves and will grow quite tall. The plant itself is also quite thin and can be identified due to being lighter than Indica. They also take far longer to grow as well as mature. They require more light to grow as well. Furthermore, Sativa is going to be higher in THC and lower in CBD. It will provide a stronger high and impacts serotonin in the brain. This transmitter affects everything from levels of anxiety to sleep and mood.

It will often be used in the day-time and can be beneficial as an anti-depressant. It may also be used to reduce levels of anxiety and in some cases reduce chronic pain.

How Significant Are These Differences?

While it is virtually impossible to purchase cannabis strains without seeing these differences and descriptions highlighted, it’s worth exploring how significant they are. Some researchers do doubt and question whether Sative and Indica classification should impact whether you buy a particular strain. Due to different production methods, it becomes more difficult to claim that a particular strain like this will provide the typical impact one would expect.

It’s worth noting that the description of the two plants is based largely on physical features. This includes whether the plant is tall or short. Researchers argue that these physical traits will have very little significance on the effect provided.

Ultimately, while followed as a general rule, not all Sativas will provide you with energy and not all Indicas will sedate you. It’s one of the reasons why sellers now offer a percentage so that you can see which strain is dominant in a particular product.

Of course, these strains are also marketedd based on other features including their cannabinoids. As such, it’s worth focusing on whether a strain is THC dominant, CBD dominant or balanced. Terpenes are another distinct feature of strains that is unrelated to whether or not a strain is more Indica or Sativa.

Terpenes provide strains with their smell from pine to fuel or berries. Different terpenes do seem to impact the effect the strain provides, whether it energises a user or sedates them.

We hope this helps you understand the differences between Indica and Sativa as well as why it’s not the only deciding variable you should consider when exploring different strains.