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Indica vs. Sativa - Here’s What You Need To Know

Not all marijuana is the same. Indica and sativa strains have different benefits and characteristics that consumers should understand before they buy. Here’s what you need to know about the two main types of cannabis.
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As cannabis continues to become more mainstream, many people want to know more about its benefits and the best ways to incorporate it into their lives. The most common question among new marijuana enthusiasts is - indica or sativa? It’s incredible how many people think all marijuana is the same. Despite a lack of scientific evidence, mainly due to a lack of access to research, users widely agree that indica and sativa have different effects on the body in a number of ways.

While strains and THC content will determine effects more than indica vs. sativa will, there are still some characteristics most strains from each plant exhibit. Today, we’ll look at the difference between the two plants and how to use them for your needs.

Growth Characteristics

It might take some practice, but you can tell the difference between indica and sativa plants with the naked eye.

Indica - Indica plants originate from Afghanistan and Pakistan and grow shorter and broader than their cousins. Leaves of the plant are also stunted and wide, and buds grow densely.

Sativa - The classic marijuana leaf design comes from the sativa side of the family. Leaves are long with skinny fingers, and the plants themselves grow up to 20 feet tall. They’re narrower than indica plants, and buds contain more air and are less likely to need a grinder.

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Effects On The Body

Although these effects are widely accepted within the community, keep in mind that THC content, strain type, and terpene profiles can play a large role in how you feel. A sativa with high THC content may give you similar effects to an indica. Some lower THC indica strains are more uplifting than the majority of other indicas. Consult with your budtender or prescribing doctor for more information on specific types.

Indica Effects - Widely known as the best strains for evening and night time use, indicas give most users a sedative-like experience. Indica is commonly used to treat inflammation, insomnia, and anxiety and has been reported to relieve pain, help with relaxation, and suppress hunger. Indica strains are frequently said to give users a “body high” instead of the “head high” of sativas. This is a code for muscle relaxation and pain relief. Most strains, but not all, with “afghan,” “purple,” and “blue” in their names are indica varieties.

Sativa Effects - Most effects of sativa are the opposite of indica. Strains are typically uplifting and best for use during the day and give users a “head high” instead of the “whole body high” of indica. Sativa won’t keep you up like drinking caffeine late in the day will, so if it’s all you have, don’t be afraid of it after dark. Sativa strains have been used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and pain. Many users say it helps their creativity and can create feelings of euphoria. Most “lemon,” “Thai,” and “haze” strains come from sativa plants.

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What About Hybrids?

Hybrids have exploded in popularity in recent years. As technology improves and genetics are better understood, growers have learned how to harness the best of both worlds. Cultivators like indica plants at their operations because they’re shorter than sativa plants and generally produce more product per plant. With trial and error, growers have learned how to mix and match strains to create the exact effects they want while maximizing grow space and resources. Pay close attention to your hybrid strains’ genetics, and you’ll be better able to understand what effect it’s likely to have. If THC content is high and the dominant strain is from the indica side, you’re likely to experience significant muscle relaxation and will get the best sleep of your life.

Understanding the difference between indica and sativa will help you maximize the benefits of cannabis. When used at their proper times and for the right reasons, each strain can provide distinct advantages. With a little experience, you’ll be able to tell the difference between the two without even thinking about it.

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you The Veteran Farmer for helping to expand local news coverage in Alberta. Learn more.


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