When talking about cannabis, people often default to categorizing them as sativa or indica. Technically, these refer to two out of three subspecies of cannabis (the other is ruderalis, which is uncommon). Their appearances can differentiate them.
Most smokers use these terms to describe the effects that the subspecies bring to their minds and bodies. Cannabis sativa is said to be stimulating, boosting the energy and focus of its users. Meanwhile, cannabis indica is sedative, helping users feel relaxed and stimulating their appetites.
What Is The Difference Between Sativa And Indica?
People often discuss the differences between cannabis sativa and cannabis indica for medical and recreational marijuana use. This is because these two subspecies are rich in the two primary therapeutic ingredients of Cannabis: Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both subspecies are similar, but each one exhibits distinct characteristics that differentiate them in appearance and effect.
Cannabis sativa is a tall, slim plant with long, thin, and light green leaves. It’s primarily grown in warmer climates like Central and South America, as well as Southeast Asia. It contains higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD than cannabis indica, so it’s known to be a stimulant. It helps boost energy and increase focus, making users feel productive and creative.
Cannabis indica is a short, stocky plant with bushy greenery and broad, chunky leaves. It’s native to Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey but has also adapted to the conditions in the Hindu Kush mountains. It contains higher levels of CBD than cannabis sativa (though not necessarily lower levels of THC), so it’s known for its relaxing effects. It produces a “body high” that sedates the body, reduces nausea, and makes people hungry. So, when people equate hunger and cannabis, they’re usually referring to cannabis indica, knowingly or not.
Cannabis indica is also known to treat some chronic diseases or relieve side effects. For example, the effect of CBD on blood pressure is that it lowers it, thanks to its anxiety-relieving effects.
What Is Responsible For The Effects Of Cannabis?
Although the assumptions between the difference in the effect of sativa and indica are generally accepted, scientists have found that the subspecies have little bearing on how you feel after consuming marijuana. Instead, the effect depends on the cannabinoids and terpenes present in the specific strain you’re using.
Cannabinoids are chemical substances that interact with specific cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, regulating how the cells communicate. These compounds are responsible for the effects of cannabis, altering how your mind and body perform under the influence. Out of the eighty to one hundred cannabinoids in cannabis, THC and CBD are the ones to pay attention to as their concentrations are the primary cause of whether you’re stimulated or relaxed after smoking.
Alongside cannabinoids, the terpenes (or aromatic compounds) present in a cannabis strain can determine its effects—on top of its smell and flavor. For example, myrcene, the most common terpene, reduces anxiety and insomnia to help you sleep better. High levels of this are characteristic of cannabis indica.
Conclusion: Choose The Strain For You
While choosing between sativa and indica is a great starting point when picking a strain of cannabis to smoke or put in your legal dry herb vaporizer, it’s best to look at the specifics of each strain.
Moreover, look at the types and levels of cannabinoids and terpenes present to get the most out of your consumption. Choose a strain that satisfies your needs and preferences that can be consumed in your medium of choice. Additionally, make sure that you can tolerate whatever effects it has, whether it’s a hyper-active mind from cannabis sativa or a seemingly bottomless appetite from cannabis indica.
To learn about the stimulative and depressant effects of cannabis, you can check out another one of our articles.