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Indica vs. Sativa: The Difference You Should Know

Updated on December 26, 2023

The difference between Cannabis Indica and Sativa

Indica and sativa are two of the more common of the more than 1,000 cannabis strains used primarily for medical and recreational purposes. Indica and sativa differ in size, shape, smell and potency. As more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana, more people are revisiting cannabis or trying it for the first time. Choosing between the wide variety of cannabis strains can be overwhelming, understanding the differences between Indica and Sativa is crucial for a personalized cannabis experience. It empowers individuals to choose strains that match their desired effects, medical needs, personal preferences, and specific occasions. By making informed decisions, individuals can optimize their cannabis consumption and enhance their overall well-being and enjoyment.

Let Cilicon help you gain insight into all the known differences between indica and sativa through the lens of natural appearance, chemical composition, medical use, availability, aroma, and more to match the choice to the right medical or recreational need.

What’s Cannabis Indica?

Cannabis indica is native to the harsh, dry climate of cannabis and originated in the Middle East, in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tibet. indica plants are short, lush plants with broad leaves. indica plants typically grow faster and produce higher yields than indica varieties.

Cannabis indica plants have relatively high CBD and low THC content and are typically used for relaxing, appetite stimulating, sleep aiding and pain relieving effects, typical of relaxing and calming strains. They activate the parasympathetic response and put you in “rest and digest” mode.

What’s Cannabis Sativa?

Cannabis Sativa is native to hot, dry climates and originates from areas such as Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia and western Asia. Sativa plants are usually tall (about 8 to 12 feet tall), with slender, finger-like leaves and a lighter green color than Indica. Sativa plants usually take longer to grow, mature and require more light.

Cannabis Sativa typically have higher THC and lower CBD content and are typically vigorous and dynamic strains. They tend to stimulate creative and physical activity, such as art or sports. They can also be considered more invigorating.

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Indica or Sativa Creates the High Effect?

The differences between Indica and Sativa have taken center stage in the marijuana discussion in recent years. The classification is mainly based on the species’ psychotic effects (given by CBD and THC content) and natural appearance. Cilicon will help cannabis vapors delves into the differences between Indica and Sativa through the lenses of their effects on the body, physical properties, and medical use based on experts’ opinions to satisfy cannabis vapors vaping journey.

The distinction between Indica and Sativa is best understood through the lens of their chemical components. Marijuana contains different chemical components (cannabinoids) that account for the psychotic effects experienced by the user. According to Harvard Medical School, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most dominant active components among hundreds of others (Grinspoon). CBD has fewer intoxicating properties and is the main target for medical research. On the other hand, THC causes the “high” that users report after consuming the substance. The varying compositions of THC and CBD in Indica and Sativa produce unique drug reactions. Higher-THC-content Sativa excites the user and increases energy, while higher-CBD-Indica produces deep relaxation. Individuals new to cannabis should start with low to moderate THC variants to learn their tolerances and preferences.

Differences of Indica and Sativa

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Physical Appearance

Indica and Sativa have divergent physical properties. Indica is shorter, bushier, has wider dark green leaves, while Sativa is taller, slimmer, and has skinnier light-green leaves.

Psychological Effects

The medical effects between Indica and Sativa, including their influence on energy levels and productivity, are of concern to the medical cannabis community. The two strains exhibit extremely opposite psychological effects, just like their physical appearances are divergent.

Indicas have a relaxing effect, decreasing energy and inducing sleep. Some Indica strains can relax patients to the point that they can barely get up the couch, a condition known as “couchlock” (Cresco Labs). Therefore, Indicas are best consumed in the evening, after work, or when going to sleep. On the other hand, Sativas are invigorating, enhancing creativity, and increasing focus. The user experiences a “mind high,” a heightened level of alertness and mental activity. Due to the positive effects on the mind and creativity, Indicas are best consumed during the day when the user is active.

Medical Conditions

Indica and Sativa focus on specific ailments because of their unique bodily and psychological effects. Sativa’s effects on the brain are desirable in treating psychological conditions like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. On the other hand, Indica is an analgesic and anti-inflammatory used to treat cancer, arthritis, and fibromyalgia (widespread body pain and muscle tenderness). Most diseases have side effects like insomnia and depression. Therefore, patients should take a strain that addresses their core ailment and a different variant to alleviate side effects. Hence, patients favor multiple strains depending on their array of medical needs.

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According to Cresco Labs, Indicas have a “musty, earthy, and skunky” odor while Sativas “smell sweet, fruity, or spicy.” The aroma differences emerge from terpenes, which are molecules of the same class as CBD and THC.

What is the Market Availability for Sativas and Indica?

Sativas take longer to grow and yield lesser medicine than Indica subspecies. Therefore, Indicas have dominated the black market than Sativas. Unlawful growers and peddlers find Indica more convenient due to a shorter growth span but higher medicinal content. Experts warn patients to avoid purchasing cannabis to the black market where they cannot verify the specific strain and how it was grown, dried, and cured (Cresco Labs). Furthermore, laboratory tests for purity and contamination are lacking in the black market, where patients have little say in the commodity they purchase. A patient can unknowingly buy Indica from the black market only to be sedated when tackling mentally involving tasks, such as their jobs or family responsibilities. However, cannabis producers like Greenthumb Industries, Curaleaf, Aphria, and others have been working extremely hard to overcome counterfeit products to satisfy the demands of cannabis users to ensure accessibility and quality consistency in the market.

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Why are Both Indica and Sativa Becoming People’s Favorite in The States?

Clinically, cannabis works as an analgesic, easing post-surgical pain or a broken bone. Both cannabinoids differ in their physical appearance, psychological effects, and medical applications. While Indica is short, shrubby, and has dark-colored leaves, Sativa is taller, skinnier, and has light-green leaves. Because Indica has high CBD levels, the substance produces sedative effects that cause deep relaxation. On the other hand, Sativa is high in THC, which activates the mind, enhancing creativity and mental focus. Indica’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties help to treat cancer, arthritis, and glaucoma. Sativa’s mental effects top treat depression and anxiety.

The distinctive properties provide cannabis vapers’ options based on their circumstances, and both are the most widely found species in the market. Thus, it becomes increasingly popular for cannabis vapers, primarily when these substances can be used to treat glaucoma, manage weight loss, and ease Parkinson’s disease tremors. In addition, recreational marijuana creates a sense of joy, relaxation and increases bonding among friends. Given Cannabis’s tremendous potential in clinical and psychological applications, many vapers have decided to explore cannabinoids’ properties and functions, resulting in both Indica and Sativa becoming vapers’ favorite due to their limitless benefits, as mentioned above.

It is unimaginable that 18% of Americans reported using Cannabis at least once in 2019 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and created limitless potential for the cannabis vaporizer manufacturing industry. This has proven the trend of Cannabis becoming the most used substance in the United States, creating a high demand in the cannabis vaping device industry. An only more growing number of experimental users will use cannabis vaping devices for medical purposes and recreation regardless of whether they input Indica or Sativa. Cilicon is committed to accompany cannabis users’ throughout the vaping journey to develop the best cannabis vaporizers in the market to satisfy vapers’ needs and experience.

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