Nearly half of all Americans have reported using marijuana at least once in their lifetime. And that number is only expected to rise as more and more states decriminalize marijuana usage and possession.
Whether you use cannabis medicinally or recreationally, you may be familiar with the differences between indica vs sativa effects. We hear it all the time: Indica is more calming — sativa, more invigorating.
The two types have a lot more in common than we think. But it’s important not to oversimplify the differences. Even the various strains of each type can produce different effects based on their chemical composition and cultivation methods.
Intrigued? So are we! Read on to learn more about which type is right for your needs.
Cannabis indica is native to Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. These conditions have helped the plants adapt to harsh, dry, and ever-changing climates.
Generally, when comparing indica leaves vs sativa leaves, the indica plant is shorter and bushier, with broad, wide leaves. Indica grows faster and produces more buds than sativa, too.
In terms of aroma, indica typically smells more “musty,” “earthy,” or “skunky” compared to sativa.
Strains of indica have a higher CBD-to-THC ratio than strains of sativa. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive cannabinoid that produces “highs.”
Products with CBD have exploded in popularity in recent years, largely due to its relaxing effects on the body and mind.
While the FDA has only collected limited data on CBD usage and safety, anecdotal data suggest that CBD is useful in treating pain symptoms, nausea, seizures, migraines, and even improving sleep and moods.
On the other end of the spectrum is cannabis sativa. Like indica, this plant also thrives in hot, dry climates with long summer days.
However, it’s not as suitable for turbulent climate conditions. Its origins include Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, and western portions of Asia.
Regarding sativa vs indica leaves, sativa stems and leaves are generally longer and more slender than indica leaves. They are also known to be a lighter shade of green, and they take longer to mature.
Compared to indica, sativa plants usually have a “sweet,” “fruity,” or “spicy” smell about them.
If you or a friend have ever needed a special light to grow your own marijuana indoors, it was probably a sativa plant! These plants typically need more light than indica.
Sativa has a higher THC-to-CBD ratio. Because of this, many people prefer Sativa to achieve an invigorating “mind high.”
Indica vs Sativa Effects
The biggest difference between sativa and indica is the THC-to-CBD ratio. These ratios will ultimately determine how the cannabis affects your body.
The more THC, the more “euphoric” you’ll feel. The more CBD, the calmer you’ll feel.
Since indica has a lower THC content, many people prefer to use it at night due to its relaxing effects. Its properties as a pain reliever create what many like to call a “body high” as opposed to a “mind high.”
Some strains of indica can be so potent that they create what’s known as a “couch lock,” where you become so comfortable it feels nearly impossible to get off the couch!
In addition to pain relief and relaxation, indica has also been known to enhance one’s appetite.
On the other hand, sativa is higher in THC content. This promotes alertness, creativity, and increased energy. That’s why it’s commonly called a “mind high” over a “body high.”
Sativa users tend to incorporate it into their morning routines instead of their nighttime routines. Because of its stimulating effects, sativa is also popular among those with psychological disorders, like depression, PTSD, and anxiety.
It’s important to note that some users may not always have a positive reaction to sativa — especially if they have a hyperactive imagination or are using it in a chaotic environment.
If you’re new to sativa, it’s best to start with small dosages in a relaxing environment. If you prefer to use it with company around, make sure they are trustworthy and reliable to help prevent a “bad trip.”
When trying to decide between indica vs sativa, you may just want the best of both worlds. Luckily, that’s what hybrid strains are for!
If you’re a new user and you’re not sure how your mind or body might react to each strain, hybrids can be a good place to start.
For example, you might want the invigorating mental effects of sativa combined with the bodily soothing sensations of indica.
These strains are bred on farms or in greenhouses, and they can fall into one of three categories based on the parent plants and cultivation methods:
The dominant type of cannabis in the strain will indicate which effects are more likely to occur during use. Many breeders even include the exact THC-to-CBD ratio, or they indicate “80% indica” or “70% sativa” on the product.
Popular hybrid strains include Pineapple Express, Trainwreck, and Blue Dream.
Which Strain Is Right for You?
If medical or recreational marijuana is legal where you live, you probably want to start trying new strains! Understanding the difference between indica vs sativa effects will help you pick the right one for you.
If you’re aiming for pain relief or relaxation, indica might be the way to go. If you’re looking for more energy and creativity, sativa is right up your alley. But if you want to reap the benefits of both, start with a trusty hybrid.