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Indica vs Sativa; What’s the Difference?

There are countless strains of cannabis in the world today. It can be difficult to know which is which and what the effects will be when you partake. This article is intended to inform you about the effects you might experience when consuming certain varieties of cannabis.

Please note that the effects of cannabis are based on multiple factors such as the user’s history of consumption and how their body processes cannabinoids and terpenes. It is important to try new strains with some caution especially if it’s a new family type or if you have minimal experience with cannabis consumption.

General Differences

The strains that we refer to as cannabis today originated in 2 parts of the world; indica developed short tough plants to handle the cold conditions in the Asian subcontinent, whereas sativas grew tall and thin to enjoy the tropical conditions in Central America.


Indica generally refers to stout, broad-leaf plants, thought to induce sedating effects. Cannabis indica is generally agreed to have originated either on the Asian subcontinent or possibly in Afghanistan. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French naturalist – was the first European botanist to classify this type in 1785.

It adapted to its harsh growing environment in countries like Morocco, Turkey, India, and Afghanistan. The strain developed a thick shell of resin to protect itself against rough climatic conditions.

This cannabis strain is generally characterized by its broad leaves, deep color, and thick, stout buds. Thanks to full-body sedation and relaxing effects, indicas tend to provide relief from symptoms such as pain, anxiety, insomnia, and even muscle spasms.


There are very few original pure Indica or Sativa strains. Due to many years of breeding and experimenting, most strains are a hybrid. Nowadays there are thousands of hybrids made from indicas and sativas with a wide range of different properties that can easily meet the needs of any consumer. 


Sativa generally refers to tall, narrow-leaf varieties of cannabis, typically believed to deliver energizing effects. Sativa is thought to have originated in Central and South America, this strain of cannabis is typically distinguished by its long, thin leaves, lighter color, and tall, airy buds.

With cerebral-focused uplifting effects, sativas often help to relieve mood disorders, depression, fatigue, and even ADD. User beware, strong Sativas can cause anxiety for those prone to feelings of anxiousness, unless CBD is present in the user or ingested around the same time.

Terpenes and Effects

Terpenes are responsible for the differences in effect between consuming Sativa strains and Indica strains. Terpenes are the aromatic oils that provide the smell and taste unique to each strain. According to, there are over 200 different terpenes in the cannabis plant, however, few terpenes appear in amounts significant enough to be noteworthy. The amount and type of terpenes are what dictate the effects that the specific strain will provide. Every strain tends towards a unique terpene composition and content. For example, a Strain like cheese and its descendant’s will have a discernible cheese-like smell and blueberry offspring will inherit the smell of berries.

It’s not overly important to know the effects of each terpene, it’s more important to understand the overall concept that each terpene will provide a unique effect when isolated, however when combined with other Terpenes their effects will be modified due to the entourage effect.


It’s easy to be confused by the differences in cannabis strains. You may want to keep a journal to note how each strain affects you. We’re living in a golden time where the quantity and quality of strains are increasing yearly. The best course is to try different types of cannabis and find what works best for you.

The author likes to start his workday with a sativa dominant strain to get the creative juices flowing. My personal favourites are: Sunkiss CBD or Super Silver Haze.

As the day progresses Hybrids seem to be ideal as they are balanced between functional, satisfying and relaxing effects. My personal favourites are Gelato, Blue Guava, and Girl Scout Cookies.

Once the evening comes and all major tasks and social situations are done with then it’s time to relax with a potent indica. My personal favourites are Master Kush, Pink Kush or Death Bubba.

All cannabis strains are unique and wonderful, I hope that you enjoy our selection at!

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