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Cannabis: Understanding the Difference Between Sativa and Indica

Posted by Laura Harrison on

Cannabis: Understanding the Difference Between Sativa and Indica

Sativa vs. Indica - What's the Difference?

“Together, indica and sativa have been the foundation of the cannabis lexicon since the mid-1700s. In 1753, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus identified psychoactive cannabis plants as Cannabis sativa in his work Species Plantarum, and 32 years later, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck identified Cannabis indica as a different species while observing the physical characteristics of India’s cannabis plants. Lamarck argued that C. indica plants have dark green, wide leaves compared with C. sativa leaves, which are light and narrow.” - WeedMaps

In today’s fast-paced world of cannabis, many newcomers may feel completely overwhelmed by all of the lingo; flower, dabs, vapes, concentrates, wax, shatter, edibles, Indica, sativa, hybrids...the list goes on. Today, we’re hoping to bring you a better understanding of the basic differences between the two base types of cannabis strains: cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. Regardless of strain and subspecies, cannabis brings users a myriad of beneficial effects on the mind and body. I remember when I first started learning about cannabis, the first things someone told me were that if I wanted energy and to feel very spirited then sativa was the way to go. If I wanted peaceful, zoned-out, relaxing effects, then Indica was the way to go. In today’s world of cannabis, its not always quite that black-and-white.

Sativa strains (such as Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, and Durban Poison) tend to provide more invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. Cannabis sativa strains tend to take a longer time to grow and mature as well as require more light than their indica counterparts. Many experienced cultivators say that cannabis sativa is also much more temperamental growing indoors and tends to possess higher levels of THC than their indica counterparts.

When we take a look at the medicinal effects of sativa strains, many reports show sativa to function in aiding as:

  • anti-anxiety
  • anti-depressant
  • treats chronic pain
  • increases focus and creativity
  • increases serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of learning, mood, sleep, anxiety and appetite)
  • for day time use

Indica strains (such as Granddaddy Purp, Critical Mass, and Northern Lights) tend to provide a more physically sedating experience making it perfect for a night-in of movies and relaxing on the couch. Cannabis indica plants are short, bushy plants with wide leaves and a darker green color. Indica plants typically grow faster and have a higher yield than the sativa variety and possess higher levels of CBD than their sativa counterparts. Experienced cultivators note that indica tends to be easier to grow indoors and requires less light than sativa.

When we take a look at the medicinal effects of indica strains, many reports show indica to function in aiding as:

  • increased mental relaxation
  • muscle relaxation
  • decreases nausea
  • decreases acute pain
  • increases appetite
  • increases dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers)
  • for night time use

With the emerging industry in Missouri, and the United States as a whole, its imperative that patients do their research. There are tons of resources available for both patients and caregivers to determine the best sub-species and strains to address individual needs. Once Missouri opens its dispensaries, experienced and knowledgeable bud tenders will be available to assist patients in choosing the proper products for their needs. We all know that being an educated consumer has many, many benefits.


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