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June 18, 2020 5 min read

Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid: Which Is Best For You?

Cannabis is not just cannabis; different strains of cannabis have different effects on the body. One strain will knock you off your feet with a heady effect, while another will leave you glued to the couch. It can be a sorry state if you go looking for a heady buzz but instead end up couch-locked. To avoid such disappointment here is the ultimate guide to help you understand sativas, indicas, and hybrids comprehensively. 

What is Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid?

Sativa, indica, and hybrid refer to the characteristics displayed by different strains of cannabis. These characteristics are genetic and they are manifested both in the physical appearance as well as the effects produced by the strain. Every strain of cannabis falls into one of the three groups: sativa, indica, or hybrid. Below is a breakdown of the different properties of cannabis sativa and cannabis indica varieties of cannabis. Hybrids shall be mentioned at the end of the article. Cannabis hybrid strains contain a mix of indica and sativa species; they exhibit the characteristics of the dominant variety.

Let's dive in.

Cannabis Sativa: Appearance

Sativa strains of cannabis are known for their rather long structures. Some landrace sativa strains will be as tall as 12 feet high. The leaves and buds are spread out from the thin stalks. All the buds grow separately and occupy a lot of space in the grow facility. Consequently, sativa strains are best suited to an outdoors environment or a large grow facility. 

Cannabis sativas take a longer time to grow; usually between 10-14 weeks. They are also not good yielders. 

Cannabis Indica: Plant Appearance

Indica strains of cannabis are known for their short and dense structures. Indicas don't grow as tall as sativa species of cannabis. However they are good yielders which more than compensates for their stout appearance. 

Indica plants bear a close resemblance to evergreen trees which have branches that become heavier as they go farther away from the top. Dense colas can be found at the base of the plant, not far away from the soil level. If you are at a dispensary and comparing different buds, indicas are the ones that will appear heartier.

If you happen to be growing some weed at home indicas have a couple of benefits to consider. They not only take a shorter time to grow and mature but they are also good yielders. On average most indicas take between 8-11 weeks to mature.

Sativa Versus Indica: How To Choose 

From the physical appearance it seems that indicas are the clear winner. 

If you are comparing different cannabis nugs just by the appearance it is likely that you will be drawn to the fatter nugs right? Well, that is likely to be OG Kush, Fat Banana or a similar indica strain. But hold that thought, here are a few facts that may give you a change of heart. 

Effects of Sativa Strains

Sativa strains produce a stronger cerebral buzz than indica strains. If you are looking to experience that uplifting mental high that causes a clear headed feeling and increased sense of focus then you should try a sativa strain.  Those tiny looking colas that you see in a jar can completely knock you off your feet. This is where we affirm the thought “looks can be deceiving.”

Cannabis sativa strains are good for entertaining guests. You will see that even the most reserved people will light up and chime into conversation with excitement, throwing all caution to the wind. Sativas are likely to induce giggles and create a light hearted spirit. If you have tried infused cookies that made you roll on the floor with laughter at the most unammusing event that was probably a sativa.

Due to this potent cerebral effect, sativa strains are suited for day time use when you want to be awake and alive in the moment. Taken before bedtime sativas are likely to keep you awake with racing thoughts for a long time. 

Therapeutic Benefits of Sativa Strains

The therapeutic benefits of weed are the result of a combination of factors, mostly the presence of bioactive compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes. However, sativas provide greater benefits for patients looking to relieve mental conditions. Patients suffering from depression are likely to benefit from the mood-uplifting effects of sativas. Sativas are also good for clearing mental fog and enhancing mental clarity. Those with attention deficit disorders (ADD) can use sativas to improve their concentration. People suffering from anxiety have also used sativas to cool off and regain their confidence. Sativas are particularly good for relieving social anxiety. Lastly, sativa strains are good for managing pain.

Now it is clear that in spite of other shortcomings sativas have a dozen benefits that make them worth a consideration. 

Now to indicas

Effects of Indica Strains

Indica strains produce a body stone effect. If you have consumed a hash brownie that left you glued to the couch and completely unable to get up, most likely it was infused with an indica strain. Indica strains produce that couch-lock effect that makes them ideal for a day of relaxation. 

Indica strains cause a total body stone that starts from the upper part of the body and transcends gradually to the lower extremities. As the wave of relaxation sweeps through the body it washes away chronic fatigue, muscle aches, and pain. After some time you will be glued to the couch and unable to move but feeling completely fortified. Indicas are the go-to strain when you have accumulated fatigue for a long time and you simply need to kick back and relax.

Because of these effects indicas are best suited for evening use when you want to wind down your day. If you happen to take an indica at the start of the day you might be forced to wrap up the day before it even starts. This is because of the couch-lock effect that will compel you to take a horizontal position sooner rather than later. 

Potential Therapeutic Benefits of Indica Strains

Because indica strains are more body-healing than they are mentally stimulating they are best suited for patients with muscle problems. Consequently, indicas have been used to relieve muscle spasms, muscle pain, chronic fatigue,and bodily stress. They have also been used to relieve seizures and epilepsy. Indicas are also a favorite for people suffering from insomnia and sleep disturbance.

Some sources claim that indicas generally have more CBD than sativas. Other sources claim that indicas have more of the terpene called myrcene. This is because both CBD and myrcene have strong relaxing and sleep inducing properties. However, there is no evidence to support either of these theories. 

What are Hybrid Strains?

Cannabis hybrid strains are a combination of sativas and indicas; they are created by cross breeding the two varieties of cannabis. Hybrids seem to have the best of both worlds since they inherit characteristics from both sides of the divide. 

Hybrids can either be sativa leaning or indica leaning. Sativa leaning strains will have more sativa than indica, for example they can have 70% sativa and 30% indica. The reverse is true of indica leaning strains; they will have more indica than sativa. Balanced hybrid strain will have an equal amount of sativa and indica in a ratio of 1:1.