Indica v. Sativa v. Hybrid: Understanding the Basics

When cannabis consumers think of “indica” they generally think that indica strains are physically sedating and perfect for relaxing with a movie or as a nightcap before bed. However, with “sativa” strains, people typically conceptualize them as ‘energizing’ and having uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. Hybrid strains are thought to have a mix of indica and sativa effects.

Despite the common beliefs surrounding these strains, there is still a lot of variability in how these strains make us feel. For instance, indica doesn’t always mean “in da couch,” and sativa doesn’t necessarily energize all of its users. However, even now, the belief that indicas, sativas, and hybrids deliver distinct effects is still deeply embedded in mainstream culture.

Research has enabled us to learn more about the cannabis plant, and as it turns out the chemical compounds in each strain—the cannabinoids and terpenes in it—determine the effects you’ll experience, not whether it’s an indica or sativa.

What is Indica Cannabis?

Indica or “in da couch” is a strain of cannabis commonly known for its relaxing and euphoric qualities, such as an elevated sense of happiness. Additionally, Indica’s are thought of as being a ‘nighttime’ strain that can aid in sleep initiation, relaxation and unwinding.

Origin

  • The Cannabis Indica originated in the Middle East, and is indigenous to Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. These plants have adapted to the often harsh, dry, and turbulent climate of the Hindu Kush mountains.

Plant Description

  • Indica plants are short and stocky with bushy greenery and chunky leaves that grow wide and broad. They grow faster than sativa, and each plant produces more buds.

THC to CBD Ratio

  • Indica strains often have higher levels of CBD and less THC.

Indica Effects

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria/bliss
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Laughter
  • Pain relief
  • Body high

Popular Indica Strains

  • Biscotti* – Stress and anxiety relief
  • Granddaddy Purple – Pain, stress, spasm and insomnia relief
  • White Rhino* – Insomnia alleviation
  • Bubba Kush – Relaxation
  • Northern Lights – Stress, anxiety and pain relief
  • Chemo* – Chronic pain and nausea relief and appetite enhancement
  • Grape Ape – Pain and stress relief
  • Blue Cheese – Relief of spasms, pain and stress
  • Blueberry* – Pain relief, long lasting euphoria and stress relief

What is Sativa Cannabis?

Sativa cannabis is accredited with energizing users, with most individuals noticing a propensity for sativas to produce an uplifting, stimulating effect. They also often report sativas as being helpful in mitigating stress or anxiety, and many consumers enjoy sativas to sharpen focus and boost creativity and motivation.  Sativa cannabis are best used during the day, as they can aid in productivity.

Origin

  • The cannabis sativa planted originated from warmer parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia and Central and South America. These plants have adapted to hot, dry climates with long sunny days.

Plant Description

  • Sativa plants are tall and thin with finger-like leaves. They can grow taller than 12 feet, and they take longer to mature than some other types of cannabis.

THC to CBD Ratio

  • Sativa often has lower doses of CBD and higher doses of THC.

Sativa Effects

  • Happy/elated
  • Stimulated
  • Reducing anxiety/stress
  • Energized
  • Alertness
  • Creativity
  • Uplifting
  • Head high

Popular Strains

  • Sour Diesel – Creativity, depression and anxiety relief
  • Jack Herer – Active, productive and calmness
  • Green Crack* – Energy, stress relief and euphoria
  • White Widow* – Stimulating, creativity and energy
  • Alaskan Thunder Fuck* – Appetite enhancement, euphoria and relaxation
  • Amnesia Haze – Uplifting energetic buzz
  • Super Lemon Haze – Intense euphoria, psychedelic aspect and energetic
  • Super Silver Haze – Energetic long-lasting body-high

What is Hybrid Cannabis?

Since hybrid weed strains obtain their genetics from indicas and sativas, their ensuing effects can also pull from both indica and sativa strains. Common effects include happiness, euphoria, vitality and tranquility—it all depends on which hybrid you consume and what effects its “parent” strains are known to produce.

Looking at a hybrid’s pedigree (its parent strains) may give you a better idea of what kind of effects it will produce. For example, if it has more indica in its lineage, it might have effects more associated with those strains.

Origin

  • Both growers and nature have created hybrid forms of both Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica throughout the history of cannabis use. People bred hybrids to make plants that grow more quickly, improve yield, and balance out the energizing and calming effects.

Plant Description

  • The appearance of hybrid strains depends on the combination of the parent plants.

THC to CBD Ratio

  • Many hybrid cannabis plants are grown in order to increase the THC percentage, but each type has a unique ratio of the two cannabinoids.

Hybrid Effects

  • **The effects of this strain vary, and can have unique impacts depending on the dominant lineage, and what it has been cross-bred for.

Popular Hybrid Strains

  • GG4 – Relaxation, happiness and stress relief
  • Blue Dream – Relaxation, euphoria and happiness
  • Gelato* – Pain relief, insomnia and fatigue alleviation
  • Wedding Cake – Relaxation and euphoria
  • Blueberry* – Pain relief, long lasting euphoria and stress relief
  • Master Kush* – Chronic pain and insomnia relief
  • White Widow* – Energy and euphoria
  • Pineapple Express – Long lasting energetic buzz, creativity, relaxation

How to Select a Strain

Choosing the right cannabis strain for you can seem daunting, but if you keep these suggestions in mind, you should be able to find something that works for you:

  1. Shop for a specific mood!
  2. If you’re looking for a specific experience, like you want to relax and watch a movie or want to do something to boost your sense of creativity, use the corresponding information above to help guide you.
  • Don’t lead with “I want an indica/sativa” or “I don’t want an indica/sativa”!
  • Be mindful of the fact that not all indicas are sleepy or heavy, and not all sativas are energetic and uplifting. Return back to our first point and start with the mood or effect you’re either trying to achieve or want to avoid. You might end up with a surprisingly great fit, irrespective of whether it’s an indica or sativa.
  • Be mind of your tolerance when it comes to strain potency!
  • Due to innovations in growing and cross-breeding, today’s strains can be a real THC powerhouse. Many popular strains available at your local dispensary are quite potent, and if your tolerance levels aren’t accustomed to high THC levels, you might have a negative, uncomfortable experience after using them. Our advice is to begin by opting for a strain with a lower THC percentage at the beginning until you’re comfortable it – remember, you’re trying to find what works best for you!
  • Keep track of what you like and don’t like!
  • While trying new strains, you may discover that you tend to like strains that express similar terpene profiles, and one’s that don’t! Give different strains a try, see what works best for you!

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