Indica vs Sativa: What are the Differences?

Indica vs Sativa: What are the Differences?

Indica vs Sativa: What are the Differences? Today, I’ll show you the difference between indica and sativa when it comes to their high, how they grow and I’ll also dive into what a hybrid strain is.

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Is There Even a Difference?

If you’re looking for a quick answer, cannabis Indica is more of a sedating high, while cannabis sativa is more uplifting/energizing.

What Is Indica?

Indica plants are use to growing in much harsher environments than their sativa counterparts.

Having to adapt to the cold and turbulent conditions of the kush mountain regions, indica evolved to be dense, short and stubby.

They also evolved to produce thick THC resin to help protect itself from its environment.

Indicas also naturally have high levels of CBD, making them a favorite of many looking for a pain-killing cannabis strain.

What Is Sativa?

The scraggly cousin of indica, sativa, is different from indica, not only in appearance but also in the effects it has on your body, its THC to CBD ratios and other cannabinoids such as terpenes.

Sativa is often paired with coffee thanks to its naturally uplifting properties.

The plants grow to be tall and lean with leaves that have a thinner face, very much unlike the typical indica marijuana leaf you see plastered all over bongs and grinders at festivals.

The Difference Between Indica and Sativa

There are two camps when it comes to the differences between indica and sativa: those who boldly claim that all indica and sativa give you a certain high and those starting to test and see if it boils down to more than just the different species of the same genus.

After all, some sativa cannabis can give you the “indica” high, and the same goes vice versa.

But we’ll dive more into this research in just a bit.

For now, let’s take a look at the differences that we know.

Geographic Origin

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First named in 1785 by, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Indica was named after where the plants were collected—India.

I briefly mentioned earlier that indica evolved in the kush mountains.

More specifically, it grew wild in the areas between 30° and 50° latitudes.

This climate is susceptible to intense, cold winter and warm summers.


Sativa was named earlier than indica, 1753, and was first thought to be the only species of cannabis.

It originates from areas that are between 0° and 30° latitudes.

Namely, equatorial regions of Mexico, Colombia, Thailand and Southeast Asia.

Being subject to the harsh heat of these areas, sativa evolved to be long and lanky to conserve water.

Leaf Shape

Thankfully, you don’t have to do chemical composition tests to tell the species apart.

You can easily tell the difference between indica and sativa by their leaf shape.

Indica leaves are broad and thicker.

More akin to the prototypical marijuana leaf you see everywhere.

Sativa leaves, on the other hand, are skinny and scraggly like the rest of the plant.

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You won’t have any luck using this method to identify a hybrid, though.

They can have a mix of the two or one or the other.

Sativa vs Indica High

The biggest reason we want to compare the two most important cannabis genus is to help get the kind of high or symptom relief we are looking for.

And, while the debate is still ongoing about whether it’s the species of the plant or the terpenes/cannabinoid make up of a plant that determines this, we can still look at the ways we commonly categorize the two different plants.

The Effect


Cannabis indica will generally give you a more relaxed, body high.

The calm, sedating effects are ideal for when you’re looking to chill out after a long day, binge-watch Netflix or sleep.

It’s also known to enhance sensations such as sound, taste and touch.


Sativas tend to be more of a cerebral, energized high that can lead to an increase in creativity and a more psychedelic high.

This high is perfect for anyone looking to smoke early in the day without feeling like a zombie the rest of the day.

It’s also a great high for reading, writing and making art.

Symptom Relief

Just wanted to drop another disclaimer here before we look at the symptoms a particular genus can help with.

The result will vary from strain to strain, and this should just be used as a general guideline to help you in the right direction.


  • Relieving pain
  • As a muscle relaxer
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures


  • As an energy boost
  • Problems focusing
  • Mood disorders such as depression
  • Mild aches and pains

Which one has more THC?

Now, thanks to the advancement in breeding were able to achieve cannabis plants with up to 51% THC.

That’s crazy.

But what about when we just look at pure strains?

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Well, one study has, and they found that, on average, indica strains tend to be significantly higher in not only THC but CBD as well.

The big flaw with this study is that it only looked at six different strains.

Over 720 indica strains and 1177 sativa strains as of 2017, and the number is only going to keep on growing.

We need a bigger picture and thanks to data that’s being collected by cannabis testing labs I’m sure we’ll get it.

Indica vs Sativa: Flavor

With the rise of legal marijuana, breeders have been able to really hone in on their skill.

Not only do they focus on THC levels and CBD levels, but they also consider flavor.

Of course, you have your famous strains named after their flavor such as, Blueberry, but most distinctions in flavor are very subtle.

Cannabis flavor comes down to one thing and one thing only, and that’s terpenes.

To generalize for the sake of simplicity, indica flavors tend to fall into the sweet category (blueberry and strawberry) while sativa plants produce an earthy, pine flavor.


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