Indica and sativa: What are the key difference?

Indica and sativa: What are the key difference?

As more states legalise marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, there is a great deal of interest in the various effects that different forms, such as indica and sativa, can produce.

Indica and sativa cannabis are two different species of cannabis. Also have a lot in common, but they have a lot of things that are different from one another.

Even while some marijuana businesses and anecdotal data suggest that indica is more soothing and sativa is more energetic than sativa, several specialists believe that such claims are inaccurate. Cannabis’s recreational and medical effects are influenced by a plethora of factors other than the strain itself.

Learn more about the distinctions between each strain as well as the affects that indica and sativa can have on the user in this article.

Strains differences

Indica and sativa: What are the key difference?

To distinguish distinct strains of plants, botanists use physical variances such as differences in height, variations in branching patterns, and differences in leaf form to make their observations. This is where the terms “indica” and “sativa” come from, respectively.

Indica plants are shorter than sativa plants, and their stalks are made of wood rather than fibrous tissue. In addition, indica plants grow at a faster rate than sativa plants.

On the subject of what produced these physical changes between strains, there is some debate. Some scholars believe that these variances are the result of humans breeding various types, while others believe that they are the result of a combination of developing adaptations and geographical isolation.


In marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of the cannabinoids (elements) that have been studied and discussed the most. Both can be found in various strains of marijuana, and they are both psychoactive. However, researchers have so far discovered at least 144 distinct cannabinoids, which is a significant number.

The effects of THC and CBD on the human body are vastly different from one another. As opposed to popular belief, knowing whether a cannabis plant is from an indica or sativa strain does not always provide much information about the relative amounts of THC or CBD it may contain. However, knowing whether a cannabis plant is from an indica or sativa strain can be useful.

Note that THC and CBD are only two of the hundreds of compounds that contribute to a variety of effects in different marijuana strains, and that there are hundreds of other chemicals as well. More information about these two substances can be found in the sections that follow.


THC, according to medical professionals, has psychotropic characteristics. To put it another way, THC is responsible for the “high” sensation that many people associate with cannabis use.

Marijuana strains with a high concentration of THC may be beneficial for persons who are suffering from pain, difficulties sleeping, or depression, while they may cause anxiety in some people.


CBD does not produce a “high,” but it can have a positive effect on mood and be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and psychoses. CBD, on the other hand, despite its reputation for generating calm, can be a stimulant when used in high levels without supervision.


Several countries in the Middle East, including as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tibet, are credited with the development of the Cannabis indica flowering plant.

It normally has a higher CBD concentration than Cannabis sativa, yet the CBD to THC ratio is extremely close to 1:1.

The prevailing consensus is that indica is a powerful pain reliever with a flat and calming high that is not addictive. A hybrid version of this strain can be found in a large number of medicinal marijuana strains.

Having said that, it is vital to emphasise that there is little scientific evidence to support these claims. Numerous scientists argue that we should not generalise the psychotropic and other effects of different cannabis strains because there are considerably more variances within the indica vs. sativa classification system.


Cannabis sativa is native to warmer regions of the planet, such as Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Most individuals believe it delivers a more invigorating and creative high, while it has been shown to cause anxiety in certain people. Sativa can also be beneficial for persons who suffer from depression, migraines, nausea, and appetite loss, among other things. Sativa plants have a higher concentration of THC than CBD.

It is vital to emphasise once more that some scientific study has been conducted to refute these assertions. It is possible that some sativa plants are invigorating, while others are not. The same goes for indica strains.


Throughout the long history of human usage of cannabis, both cultivators and nature have generated hybrid versions of both Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica that have become widely available.

In order to produce plants that grow more quickly and produce more, people created hybrids to produce plants that were both energetic and calming in their effects.


Cannabis ruderalis is believed to have originated in cooler regions of the world, such as Russia and the border between Hungary and Ukraine, where it is now cultivated. It grows in the wild, and some believe it is a descendant of hemp plants that have escaped.

Even though it does not contain particularly high concentrations of THC or CBD, breeders prise it for its capacity to flower on its own, without the intervention of a farmer. This is why ruderalis is frequently used to develop hybrids with sativa or indica strains of cannabis.

Strains and effects

The strains of marijuana listed in the table below are some of the most prevalent, and the levels of THC they contain are also listed. These figures came from a study that found no evidence to show that indica and sativa marijuana are genetically unique from one another.

NameSativa or indicaAverage THC content (%)Minimum THC content (%)Maximum THC content (%)
Afghan KushIndica17.614.722
Blackberry KushIndica15.912.518
Bubba KushIndica15.510.219.4
Fire OGHybrid17.39.820.2
Strawberry CoughSativa15.38.718.1
Sour DieselSativa16.67.722
Train WreckHybrid145.919.8
True OGIndica18.513.422.2

The table illustrates that there is a lot of variance across strains and even within strains. THC level in Sour Diesel, for example, can range from 7.7% to 22%.

According to the study, the labels “indica” and “sativa” should not be used to categorise the effects of cannabis. “A new classification system is needed to enhance the medical utility of cannabis products for patients, allowing them to communicate better with physicians and healthcare providers,” the authors write.

Selecting a Strain

Traditionally, determining the answers to the following questions has aided in choosing the best marijuana strain for a person:

  • Why are they interested in using marijuana?
  • Is it for medical purposes, and if so, what conditions need treatment?
  • Is it for recreational purposes, and if so, what kind of experience do they seek?
  • How much experience do they have with marijuana?
  • How long do they want the experience to last?

More research into the classification of diverse strains and their consequences, on the other hand, is currently required.

Dr. Ethan Russo, a psychopharmacology researcher and neurologist, offers a compelling argument against what most people believe about the indica vs. sativa controversy in an interview published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Researchers can’t and shouldn’t classify cannabis based on its “effects” and biochemical content, he claims, because the terms “indica” and “sativa” only refer to the plant’s height, branching, and leaf morphology.

“Since the taxonomists cannot agree, I would strongly encourage the scientific community, the press, and the public to abandon the sativa/indica nomenclature and rather insist that accurate biochemical assays on cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles be available for cannabis in both the medical and recreational markets. Scientific accuracy and the public health demand no less than this.”

– Dr. Ethan Russo


The botanical qualities of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica differ.

According to anecdotal evidence, sativa is more energetic and indica is more soothing, but the scientific fact is significantly more convoluted. In truth, the medical and recreational effects of cannabis are caused by a variety of chemical components.

Although the distinctions between the two plants may be true, it is vital for a person to look at the biochemical composition of the individual strains in order to select the strain that is best suited to their needs.

Even within specific strains, research has shown that THC levels can vary significantly, suggesting that the same is true for other cannabinoids.