Not all cannabis plants are the same. There are two main species of the genus cannabis – Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica which highly vary in their physical structures, genetic makeups, effects, smells as well as medicinal benefits. The marijuana strains available in the market are either pure sativa and indica breeds or hybrids of the two. Your marijuana experience largely depends on which type of cannabis you are consuming and being a marijuana user, it is necessary that you are able to differentiate between sativa vs indica. This post will help you to understand the real differences between the two and thereby choose a favorable strain for yourself.
Sativa vs. Indica – sorting them by physical appearances
Cannabis sativa plants have different physical makeup and growth traits from the indica plants. Commonly, sativa plants are taller (6-12 ft on average) than the indica and have narrow, elongated and light-green leaves. The heights of sativa plants make them hard to grow indoors. Indica breeds, on the other hand, grow shorter(2-4 ft) with thick stems and broad, deep-green leaves. Sativas also have longer flowering cycles than the indica plants which means that the latter grows faster than the former variety. Where it takes 3 to 4 months from propagation to harvest in the case of sativa plants, the whole process is completed in only 6 to 8 weeks in indica cultivation.
An indica plant usually produces more buds than its counterpart. The indica buds are also denser than the sativa buds and therefore weigh more than the latter when dry.
Different places of origin
Cold, dry and short season climates are favorable for the growth of indica plants. The species is a native of the Hindu Kush mountain ranges in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Most of the sativa species therefore originally belong to the harsh and rocky topographies of northern India, northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet, Nepal and Turkey.
In contrast, sativa plants require a more hot and equatorial climate to thrive. The species is, therefore, an original inhabitant of Africa, Jamaica, Mexico, countries in Central America, Thailand and other places in Southeast Asia, East Asia, southern India and other regions with a hot and sunny climate.
Sativa vs Indica: Varying chemical structures
Though both cannabis sativa and cannabis indica belongs to the same plant genus and therefore have the same natural components in them, the varying ratio of those chemical compounds makes the two plants distinct from each other. The two cannabinoids – tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and cannabidiol or CBD – that are responsible for the high sensations and the medicinal benefits of cannabis are present in both the species, but in different proportions. It is widely believed that sativas have more THC in them and less CBD. On the other hand, indica plants usually contain more CBD than THC. It is this difference in the chemical profiles of the two varieties that are largely responsible for producing different kinds of highs and sensations in the human body.
The sativa and the indica buds not only look and weigh different, but they release different smells too when smoked. Marijuana smokers say that sativa strains usually have a peculiar ‘grassy’ or earthly smell. Indica buds, on the other hand, are described to produce a strong sweet or sour aroma.
Sativa vs. Indica – do they produce different kinds of highs?
The varying ratios of THC and CBD in the two species make them radically different in terms of effects. Being high in the psychoactive compound THC, the sativa products produce a heady or cerebral high that is highly exhilarating and euphoric in nature. Usually, sativa strains give you an uplifting mood as well as waves of creative energy. CBD, which is a non-psychoactive property, has a quite opposite effect on human body and mind than THC. As the indica strains have high CBD content and less THC, they are bound to produce a body-high that is extremely relaxing and sedating. They are particularly helpful in inducing muscle relaxations and calm sleep. The ‘couchlocked’ ‘stoner’ high that people commonly associate with cannabis consumption is mostly an indica experience.
Different uses of sativa and indica
The varying proportions of THC-CBD contents and the resulting highs of different natures make the two cannabis varieties ideal for different kinds of uses. Due to the high presence of psychoactive THC in it, sativa strains are best suited for recreational purposes. As it is known to induce creative energy and appetite in you, you can take sativa anytime in the day. Indica strains are mostly good for evening uses as they give you a full-body relaxation and a calming sleep. If you are looking for a relaxing nightcap before going to bed, go for indica. But if you are planning to party with your friends or attend a concert, smoke some sativa buds.
Medicinal benefits of the two varieties
High CBD content in the indica strains makes them very useful in treating a range of medical conditions including anxiety, stress, muscle spasms, inflammation, neuropathic pains, sleep disorders and others. They are therefore extremely beneficial to the patients suffering from severe and long-term ailments such as arthritis, epilepsies, cancer and fibromyalgia. THC heavy sativa strains, in contrast, have limited therapeutic uses. They are mostly used to counteract appetite loss, nausea, cognitive disabilities, depression, PTSD and other behavioral or psychological problems.
In the end, the question that persists is: Cannabis sativa vs. cannabis indica – which one is better for you? The answer lies in the specific purpose for which you are taking your marijuana. Knowing the varying cannabinoid and terpene contents in the two varieties help you to understand what type of highs as well as medicinal benefits you get from your sativa and indica strains. Now, depending on what type of high you want to get, you can choose your own favorite cannabis strain with a little help from the budtender of your local cannabis store in Canada.