Indica vs Sativa: What’s The Difference?

Explore the key differences between Indica and Sativa strains in the cannabis world.

Indica vs Sativa Whats The Difference

With hundreds of kinds of cannabis now available, the possibilities for exploration and enjoyment are endless! Two of the most popular cannabis plants are Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. These species have unique characteristics that make them desirable for different experiences and uses.

In the past, it was thought that Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa strains would evoke unique reactions. It was once believed that the Indica strains tended to yield less stimulating effects, whereas the latter offered more stimulants.

With such a long cultivation of hybrid strains, much of the information about the effects of pure species may be outdated and not as helpful. That being said, some aspects can still apply in certain contexts.

However, modern research has shown that the effects of cannabis are largely determined by individual cannabinoids and terpenes found in each plant. Depending on the ratio of cannabinoids and terpenes present in cannabis strains, they can have drastically different effects from one another.

photo of a cannabis leaf that represent indica vs sativa

Cannabis Sativa Strains

Cannabis sativa is the most widely cultivated species of cannabis. Sativa plants are typically tall and thin, with light green leaves. Sativa plants tend to have a higher concentration of THC and can produce an energizing, uplifting, head-focused effect. This makes them desirable for activities and tasks that require creativity or mental stimulation.

This species can reach heights of up to 25 feet, with its long leaves boasting a serrated light green hue. Sativa plants have a longer flowering period – up to 12 weeks – and offer a higher yield.

Sativa dominant strains are also renowned for their deep, woody aromas and earthy flavors. Commonly known as hemp, Cannabis sativa L is cultivated primarily for industrial uses and carefully monitored to guarantee that its THC levels do not exceed 0.3%.


The most common effects experienced from using Cannabis sativa include:

  • uplifting and energizing cerebral stimulation
  • creativity enhancement
  • improved focus
  • Sativa often increases alertness and can benefit those suffering from depression or fatigue due to its ability to lift moods and reduce stress.

Cannabis Indica 

The cannabis Indica plant is another popular species of cannabis strain known for its relaxing effects. Indica plants are generally short and wide with dark green leaves.

They tend to possess higher levels of chemical compounds called CBD, which produces a mellowing body-high sensation that can be great for relaxation after long days or physical activity. Indicas are also ideal for those looking to ease anxiety or fall asleep easier at night.

Indica plants generally grow between 3-6 feet in height and are known for their dark green coloration and thick buds. They flower much faster – usually around 7-9 weeks – allowing for quicker yields.

This species is most commonly used for medicinal purposes due to its lack of psychoactive properties. Its psychoactive effects are minimal when consumed with high levels of CBD. Not all Indica strains have the same effects, but in general, they tend to be more sedating and will leave you feeling relaxed with a sense of overall well-being.

Its flavours and aromas carry earthy, sweet, and sometimes fruity notes.


The most common effects experienced from using Cannabis indica include

  • relaxation
  • reduced anxiety, and stress levels
  • improved sleep quality
  • muscle relaxation, and pain relief.

These effects are also known to reduce inflammation in the body and can benefit those suffering from chronic pain or mental health issues due to their soothing qualities.

Cannabis Ruderalis 

Cannabis Ruderalis is a third species of cannabis, though it has been less popular than Cannabis sativa and indica in recent years. This species is native to northern Eurasia and can thrive even in harsh climates. This type of cannabis was developed for its strong survival capabilities, which makes it unique compared to other varieties.

Ruderalis plants are short, growing up to 2 feet tall with small fan-shaped leaves. The flowering period usually takes a much shorter time – around 2-3 weeks – allowing them to produce quick yields.

The effects from ruderalis are milder because they possess lower levels of THC when compared to the other two species.


The most common effects experienced from Cannabis ruderalis include an uplifting, calming sensation that helps reduce stress and tension. This type of cannabis is great for those seeking relief from anxiety or needing to unwind after a long day.

Cannabis ruderalis is becoming more popular due to its rapidly growing period and high resistance to unfavorable weather conditions, making it ideal for growers in colder climates.

It’s also increasingly bred with other species like sativa and indica to produce hybrid strains with unique properties.


While there is much debate about the outcomes of ingesting sativa versus indica strains, it should be noted that differences can vary widely depending on the specific strain. Hybrid strains make it much harder to predict the effects that you could experience.

Hybrid strains are created by cross-breeding different pure indica and sativa strains which can result in unique combinations of traits and effects.

Hybrids offer a range of benefits and effects, depending on the ratio of their parent varieties used during breeding. Generally speaking, a strain with more Sativa will produce uplifting and energizing effects, while one with higher Indica dominance will promote relaxation and sedation.

Hybrids, therefore, allow for exploration into new possibilities and experiences that may not have been available before.

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How To Choose The Best Strain For You?

When choosing the right strain, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The best way to decide which type of cannabis is best for you is to try a few different options and see what works best for your needs.

As mentioned before, each strain contains unique ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes that can produce vastly different experiences. Think about what you want from your cannabis experience – energy, focus, creativity, or relaxation – and then pick strains accordingly.

Start with small doses if necessary and gradually increase until you find the perfect balance for your needs. Finding the perfect strain can be an exciting journey with so many possibilities. No matter which type of cannabis you choose, always remember to consume responsibly and with respect for yourself, the plant, and your environment.

Ultimately, as this article shows, there is so much variety regarding cannabis plants. With each species offering different effects and advantages, it can be helpful to research the strains you’re interested in trying.

Wrapping Up

Now that you have a better understanding of Cannabis sativa and indica and hybrid strains, why not explore these unique species further? Test out different varieties of each species and observe the effects they produce.

See what kind of experience works best for you – because there is no one-size-fits-all regarding the cannabis plant! Enjoy the journey as you discover all that cannabis has to offer.

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