Indica vs Sativa: What Is the Difference?

Indica vs Sativa: What Is the Difference?

There exist over a thousand strains of marijuana that have been developed over the past few decades. The primary foundation species are Sativa and Indica; all the other strains are offshoots of the two. It is accurate to conclude that although many strains of weed exist, they all be categorized as Sativa strains, Indica strains, or as hybrids.  Sativa and Indica strains have some differences, and the knowledge of these differences should be of interest to anyone who seeks to understand marijuana. The efficacy of a marijuana product may be determined by the strain from which it is extracted.

Origin of Strains

Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, identified Cannabis Sativa in 1753. A few decades later, in 1785, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who was a French biologist, identified Cannabis Indica as a separate species. Cannabis Sativa grows in places where there is much sunshine. 

These places also have hot and dry conditions that are necessary for Sativa to flourish. Locations with these climatic conditions where Sativa grows include Africa, South East, and Western Asia, and Central America.  

Indica, on the other hand, is adapted for dry, harsh weather. The places where it grows under these conditions include Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, and India. Both strains have been exported to other parts of the world, but the places mentioned above are their origin. 

The Sativa plant is much taller when compared to indica. It grows up to twelve feet, and it is thin, unlike indica, which is stocky. A look at indica vs. Sativa leaves shows that Sativa’s leaves are thin and fingerlike, and the plant takes longer to grow when compared to indica.

Concerning cannabinoids, Sativa has a higher concentration of THC than CBD. Seeing that THC has psychoactive properties, the use of cannabis Sativa affects the brain more than it affects the body. Thus it is said to cause a mind high. It reduces anxiety, and it may increase a user’s focus, productivity, and creativity. 

Some of the most popular strains of Sativa include Durban Poison, Acapulco Gold, and Panama Red.

The difference between indica vs. Sativa high is that indica affects the body, while Sativa affects the mind.

What Determines Sativa or Indica?

Whether a cannabis plant is Sativa or Indica is determined by terpenes. Terpenes are organic compounds that plants, especially conifers, produce. The presence of terpenes is usually indicated by strong odors that protect plants from herbivores. 

  There are many different types of terpenes, but myrcene is the most widely occurring terpene in cannabis.  If a cannabis plant has myrcene content of above 0.5 percent, it automatically falls under the indica category. 

If, on the other hand, the Myrcene content is under 0.5 percent, then the plant falls under the Sativa. Terpenes work together with cannabinoids to produce the so-called entourage effect to help the patient manage whatever condition for which they need marijuana.

Effects: Sativa high vs. indica high

Sativa has more THC, and it is, therefore, psychoactive. Its effect is mostly felt in the brain, and that’s why in an Indica vs. Sativa anxiety treatment contest, Sativa wins. Sativa is also preferred as a treatment for chronic pain. Sativa may also be used by a person who is seeking to increase their focus and creativity. Owing to its effect on the brain, as indicated above, Sativa is best used during the day.

Indica, on the other hand, is known to affect the body more on account of having more CBD than THC.  It causes the user to relax, and it is preferred by people who find it difficult to sleep as a result of tension in the body. Its effects include mental relaxation; it decreases pain and causes muscles to relax. Indica also helps to increase the user’s appetite.

It is not advisable to use indica when working in a dangerous environment, such as operating a machine. Relaxed muscles usually increase the user’s reaction time, making it difficult for them to manage emergencies effectively. Bearing this in mind, Cannabis Indica should be used at night when little physical activity is expected. 

While these traditional positions on the effects of each strain are still valid, a lot more information is coming to light on how marijuana affects its user. It is now clear that it is not only THC and CBD levels that determine the effects of cannabis on a person, and Sativa vs. Indica difference is no longer as clear cut as it was initially thought. 

Terpenes and other cannabinoids contribute to the effect through the so-called entourage effect. It is due to these other components and their impact that Indica or Sativa from one place may have a different impact on a person when compared to indica or Sativa from a different location.

A better understanding of the entourage effect as researchers are pursuing it will help narrow down how these strains affect their user and why they affect them in such a manner. Further information on this can be found on the Indica vs. Sativa Reddit page. Their Sativa vs. Indica chart is attached below.

Indica vs Sativa
Source: Reddit

Medical Efficacy

The effects of the two strains of marijuana in their use for therapeutic purposes are primarily manifested in their impact on the user’s energy levels. At its most potent, indica can cause the user to suffer from couchlock. Such effects are the reason why it is recommended for indica to be used at night. It is said to produce a ‘body high’ by relaxing the user’s muscles and thus enabling them to rest. 

Sativa is uplifting and cerebral. It increases productivity by enhancing focus and improving the user’s energy level. Owing to its high THC content, it produces a ‘mind high.’ More potent strains of Cannabis Sativa may cause the user to experience that euphoria that may, at times, extend to become a psychotic episode.  With this in mind, a user needs to seek the input of a health care professional to determine the quantities they should take and how often. 

If the dosage is not right, and the user suffers a psychotic break, the product will have caused more harm than good. It is vital to remember that weed, mainly Sativa, which has a high THC content, is not suitable for teenage brains. Research shows that THC may predispose them to schizophrenia.

Both Sativa and indica can be used raw by smoking or ingesting in cookies and other carriers. Extracts of the main cannabinoids can also be made from the plant to ensure that the user gets a pure product. With THC and CBD extracts, it is easier to control the amount of either cannabinoid that a user takes with every dosage.


As noted earlier, there are thousands of strains of marijuana in the world. These strains have different effects on their users, some that are more desirable than others depending on the needs of the user. To increase efficacy, researchers have been combining different strains to produce hybrids suited for specific conditions. These hybrids may be produced through a cross-species combination or combination within the species. When carefully blended hybrids win in contests between Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid strains.

How to choose the right product for you

Choosing the right product depends on your need and how you prefer to take your supplement. You can select THC or CBD oil if you prefer to take the supplement as drops under your tongue. This option enables you to take your cannabinoid quickly and easily.

Some people would prefer to use THC or CBD gummies, which take longer to chew but are better flavored. Capsules are yet another way you can make your supplement, whether for CBD or THC. Sativa and indica edibles can come in other forms than the ones mentioned above. 

More critical than the delivery method is the main cannabinoid contained in the product. If you need increased concentration, use a THC rich product. In the context of strains, Sativa is the one to go for in this case. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a body high to help you relax, go for an indica based supplement or go for any hybrid specifically developed to help with your condition


Marijuana continues to gain acceptance throughout the United States. Federally, high CBD – low THC weed was legalized through The Farm Bill of 2018. Thus if the weed has more than 0.3% THC content, it is only legal in states where recreational marijuana is allowed. In states and territories that allow the use of weed for recreational purposes, you can only possess the accepted amounts else you will have broken the law. Seeing that Sativa is the high THC strain, you need to take care to ensure your possession of it is legal.

Dwight K. Blake Written by: Dwight K. Blake

Dwight was a Mental Health counselor at Long Island Psychotherapy & Counseling in Westbury, New York for more than 15 years. He believes that CBD is the prime solution to this mental illness and more-- with proper research, medical acknowledgment, and application.
Through his work at AmericanMarijuana, together with the rest of the team, he wishes to provide everyone with genuine results and high-quality product reviews for everyone to enjoy for free.

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