Indica vs. Sativa

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different cannabis strains in the world. This is a result of science and new research that has allowed for different strains to be combined and manipulated, creating entirely new cultivars with novel and interesting properties. Although there are endless choices when it comes to cannabis flower, there are essentially two major varieties that you will come across: Indica and Sativa.

At Supreme, we know that Indica and Sativa may not be the best way to classify cannabis cultivars. The chemical composition of the plant (terpenoid and cannabinoid percentages) are a much more accurate way of gauging the potentiality of a specific cultivar. However, the Sativa/Indica distinction is relevant when it comes to growing patterns and genetic lineage.

In this overview we will explore how cultivators, researchers, and consumers differentiate between these two cannabis varieties.

7ACRES Jack Haze

What is Indica?

Cannabis Indica is a species of the genus cannabis. The plant is distinguishable by its relatively short stature, broad leaves, and short flowering cycles. While Cannabis Indica originated in the Indian subcontinent, it is now grown and consumed all over the world.

What is Sativa?

Cannabis Sativa is another species of the genus cannabis. Physically, the Cannabis Sativa plant is noted for its tall height, narrow leaves, and long flowering cycles. Sativa is indigenous to East Asia, but just like Indica, it is now available worldwide.

Landrace vs Hybrids

Cannabis cultivars can be classified as either landraces or hybrids. Hybrids can be Indica-dominant, Sativa-dominant or well-balanced depending on their lineage.

Landrace strains are cannabis strains that are indigenous to certain areas of the world and grow naturally in those regions. Landraces are essentially the building blocks for all of the cannabis genetics and strains that are available today. The only 100% Indica or Sativa strains are known as landraces.

Indica landraces include strains like Hindu Kush, Afghani, Pakistani Chitral Kush and Mazar L Sharif. Sativa landraces include strains like Thai, Durban Poison, Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Colombian Gold and Lambs Bread.

Every Indica or Sativa-dominant hybrid can be traced back to a landrace as their original “parent” strain. Popular Indica-dominant strains include OG Kush, Blueberry, Northern Lights, Grandaddy Purple and G-13.

Every Indica or Sativa-dominant hybrid can be traced back to a landrace as their original “parent” strain. Popular Indica-dominant strains include OG Kush, Blueberry, Northern Lights, Grandaddy Purple and G-13. Popular Sativa-dominant strains include Haze, Sour Diesel, Green Crack, Strawberry Cough, Jack Herer and Maui Wowie.

Similar Uses of Indica and Sativa

Though there is ample discussion about the differences between Indica and Sativa, the two varieties are actually more similar than they are different. Let’s take a look at how both varieties are used.

Medical Treatment

Cannabis has been used for different medical treatments for years, and there is still a lot we have to learn about its effects on the body. That said, doctors currently prescribe medical cannabis (both Indica and Sativa strains) for a wide range of symptoms and conditions including Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, anxiety, inflammatory bowel disease and insomnia.

Spiritual Experiences

Though not as well researched as some of cannabis’ medical properties, spiritual experience is a common reason for consumption of both cannabis Indica and Sativa. For centuries, different cultures and religions have utilized cannabis for rituals and ceremonies, as well as personal spiritual growth.

Recreational Use

Finally, recreational use is perhaps the most common reason for cannabis consumption. Recreational cannabis consumers seek the intoxicating effects and cerebral “high” that the plant produces.

Similar Effects of Indica and Sativa

Both Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica cultivars contain varying levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, which means they can result in a vast array of experienced effects when consumed.

  • Psychoactive Effects – The psychoactive effects of cannabis vary for each individual user, however, the chemical process is the same in every case. Cannabis affects the levels of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine. These changes, in turn, can cause changes in conscious perception, euphoria, relaxation, introspection, amplified sensuality, and increased libido.
  • Subjective Effects – In addition to the more universal psychoactive effects of cannabis consumption, there are also a few more subjective effects that are common for many users. These include increased appetite and increased enjoyment of food and drink. Many users also report feeling a distorted sense of time, with time generally slowing down or feeling as though it has stopped. Cannabis can also produce a “rush” of ideas and perceptions. Finally, with higher doses, some users report instances of dissociation and even mild hallucinations.
  • Physical Effects – For most people, the physical effects of Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica consumption are virtually the same. Users will experience dry mouth, an increased heart rate, dry or red eyes, and muscle relaxation.

Differences Between Indica and Sativa

While Indica and Sativa are very similar, they are not without a few key differences. These can range from the intensity of their effects to their preferred cultivation processes. So, let’s take a look at a few of the most important differences between Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa:

Physical & Chemical Properties

As stated previously, Cannabis Indica and Sativa plants simply look different. Indica is a short plant with broad leaves, while Sativa is a taller plant with narrow leaves. Indicas also tend to have a denser bud structure than Sativas. Some consumers tend to associate Indica-dominant strains with high CBD levels and Sativa-dominant strains with high THC levels, although this classification is largely incorrect.

Effects of Consumption

The real distinction between the effects felt by consuming Indica and Sativa strains are the result of terpenes – the aromatic compounds found in cannabis.

The deep and pungent terpenes commonly found in Indica-dominant strains are associated with relaxing, sedative effects. Terpenes associated with Indica-like effects include Myrcene and Beta Caryophyllene.

The bright and fruity terpenes that are abundant in Sativa-dominant strains are often associated with uplifting, energetic effects. Terpenes associated with Sativa-like effects include Pinene and Limonene.

Potential Uses

While Indica and Sativa cannabis cultivars are generally consumed for the same medical, spiritual, and recreational purposes, there are a few differences when it comes to their potential uses.

Varieties of Cannabis Sativa that contain less than 0.3% THC are known as hemp and have a large mixture of potential uses. Hemp has been used in the creation of industrial fiber for centuries. In addition to clothing, this fiber can be used to produce paper, paint, food, and animal feed, among other things. The seeds of the hemp plant can also be used to produce hemp seed oil, which has many potential uses. Hemp seed oil is beneficial for cooking, as well as the production of paint. For farmers or bird enthusiasts, the seeds work as a cheap and natural form of bird feed. Hemp seed oil is also ingested by humans for a host of health-related benefits.

As you can see, the distinctions between Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa may seem small at first glance, but they are actually pretty significant when it comes to cultivation practices, effects, as well as medical and industrial uses.

What is Ruderalis?

You have probably heard of Indica and Sativa, but did you know that there is a third type of cannabis known as ruderalis? The underdog of the cannabis world, botanists still argue over whether ruderalis qualifies as a separate species of cannabis, or if it is really just a subspecies.
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