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Indica Vs. Sativa: How To Tell The Difference

Indica vs. Sativa In The Marijuana Plant

Many marijuana consumers enjoy knowing the names of each strain and where it came from. Unfortunately, names like Blue Dream and Pineapple Kush don’t relate to the plant all that much. In reality, they’re just names given by the growers in hopes that it sounds appealing for customers and helps it sell more.

But, if you take it a step further, you’ll find that marijuana comes in two different species: cannabis indica and cannabis sativa.

Have you ever consumed marijuana right before bed, only to find that you couldn’t sleep? Have you ever gotten high during the day and as a result became extremely sleepy?

Knowing the difference between the two kinds is marijuana can mean avoiding these situations and consuming the appropriate strand at the best time. So, let’s dive in and look at the differences between indica cannabis and sativa cannabis.

Indica Vs. Sativa: The Debate

Legally, there’s no difference.

There’s evidence that the two strands are different, though scientists can’t seem to agree on how different they are. Some argue that they are different subspecies, while others believe that they are different species entirely.

Because each species varies in strength, quality, and freshness, the effects depend vastly on how users choose to consume the cannabis. It also varies greatly on the person, how often they consume cannabis, their current temperament, etc.

Despite the debate of multitude, it is common thought that these two strains differ in appearance, size, how it’s grown, treatments, and how it affects the human body.

So, what makes indica and sativa different?

Indica Vs. Sativa: The Differences


Both of these words come from Latin. The title indica originally came from the fact that the plant came from India. Indica is Classical Greek and Latin for India.

Sativa, on the other hand, is one of three (Sativum and Sativus) Latin adjective that means “cultivated”.


As its name hints, the majority of indica plants originated in central Asia and the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, etc.).  This goes hand in hand with the fact that Indica is known for growing best in cooler environments.

During the 1970s, indica strains were brought to the United States from Afghanistan for the first time. It was then when the first hybrid of indica and sativa were made.

Sativa originates in equatorial countries such as Thailand, Mexico, Cambodia, Colombia, and so forth. Sativa thrives in warmer and more tropical climates.

Physical Appearance

While both of these plants have green leaves for the most part, Indica is a bit darker than sativa. Indica also has broader and fuller leaves. Indica plants usually grow short and wide, between 2-4 feet tall, making it better and easier for indoor growing.

Indica plants make up for their height with their dense clusters and thick and heavy buds. These plants tend to be quite fragrant. Its branches are closer together, and it produces more buds than sativa plants.

Indica is often grown in mountains and rougher weather conditions. Because of its high density, indica usually has a higher THC ratio compare to sativa.

Sativa, on the other hand, tends to be light green with skinnier leaves. Sativa plants are typically tall and skinny with branches far apart from each other. The tallest sativa plants can be up to 20-25 feet high, though most are only about 6 feet on average.

It’s common for sativa plants to gain 200-300% of their height during the flowering period.

Sativa usually weighs less than indica when dry, due to its low density.  Sativa is also less fragrant than Indica, both when growing and when dry, and is therefore known to have a smaller THC-to-weight ratio.


Indica plants usually take between 6-8 weeks until they’re ready for harvest. Indica grows best in cooler climates. Since it takes less time and its plants are smaller, indica is best suited for indoor environments. It also yields a higher percentage of buds per pound.

Sativa plants take much longer to grow than Indica plants. Each plant takes on average 9-12 weeks before it is ready to harvest. Sativa plants grow best in warmer environments. Due to their height, it’s less common to be grown indoors.


Consumption of sativa and indica give its users a different feeling. Let’s look at the best ways to consume each kind.


Indica produces a more lethargic and lazy body high. It should be consumed at night for optimal results. It produces more of a heavy feeling on the body, causing most of its users to want to sit down and relax.

Users still enjoy an increase in creativity, but users of indica experience a decreased attention span. Indica causes its users to feel sedated, whether it is used in low doses or high doses.

Indica’s effect on the human body is usually referred to as “stoned” or a “body high.” This means its effect is felt more throughout the body rather than in the head. Indica tends to enhance senses such as sound, touch, and smell, though it also leaves its users extremely relaxed, and sometimes even drowsy.

Indica’s benefits mostly deal with relief. Indica relieves anxiety, stress, body pain, migraines, and also spasms. It can also help users relax their muscles as well as reduce frequency of seizures.  Indica reduces nausea and is also used to help fight depression.

Indica is often used at night as a sleep aid, since it relaxes your body, usually leaving its users sleepy.


The sativa plant, on the other hand, leads to more of an energetic head high and is best used during the day. It gives its users a lighter ‘high’ feeling, making it easier to take action on the user’s creativity.

In small doses, it makes users feel more alert (though in large doses, it still leaves users sedated). For these reasons, it’s much more of a social high relative to indica, making it easier to retain thoughts, have conversations, and take action.

Sativa, unlike Indica, gives users what is described as a stimulating “head high”. It’s less likely to make the user tired, and sometimes can even leave him/her more energetic and creative.

Sativa leaves its users with feelings of well-being and serenity.  Its benefits are far more diverse, as it aids depression through uplifting thoughts and increasing energy levels. It also stimulates happiness and hunger, promotes creativity, boosts your imagination, and increases focus.

For these reasons, sativa is best used during the day.

Indica Vs. Sativa: Real-Life Applications

Let’s explore some situations and discover which kind of cannabis is paired with it:


You just smoked a blunt and feel the urge to get out a pen and a piece of paper and sketch your dream house. You feel focused while listening to your favorite EDM music and snacking on some frozen yogurt. What strain did you smoke? Sativa

You have a headache and you unwind after a long day with a nice bong rip. You curl up in a blanket and plan to watch the latest Bob Marley documentary until you fall asleep. What strain did you hit? Indica


Indica is often used to treat chronic pain, muscle spasms, and chronic nausea. It is also used for specific diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, and Fibromyalgia. It’s commonly used as a sleep aid as well, especially for people who suffer from insomnia.

Sativa is used to treat mental and behavior issues including ADD, ADHD, and depression. Sativa tends to stimulate hunger more, making it a great remedy for cancer and anorexia patients.

Indica Vs. Sativa: Popular Strains

Popular sativa strains include:

Popular indica strains include:

A Brief Word About Hybrids

Most of the cannabis today is not 100% sativa nor 100% indica, rather some sort of hybrid, mix, of the two. There is a wide range of blends, making it easier to cater to the needs of each user.

Hybrids can range from a 50/50 split of each type but can also be indica- or sativa-dominated.

Popular hybrid strains include:

Indica Vs. Sativa: How To Consume The Different Types Of Cannabis

One of the many nice things about indicas and sativas is that you can consume them in a wide variety of ways. Try them all and find the one that works best for you.


Joints are perhaps the most well-known of the cannabis delivery systems.


Blunts are similar to joints in many ways but are rolled with cigar papers instead of cigarette or rolling paper. In addition, blunts are usually thicker and hold more weed, making them a more powerful option than the smaller and thinner joint.

Pipes & Bowls

Compared to joints, pipes and bowls are an even quicker and easier way to date Mary Jane. There’s no tedious rolling that requires the tiny fingers of a ten-year-old girl and the dexterity of an 1800s watchmaker.

Just stuff in some weed, light up, and you’re good to go.


Bongs are the king of marijuana paraphernalia. They come in all shapes and sizes and can often be quite beautiful.


Also known as butane hash oil (BHO), dabs are an extremely potent extract of the cannabis plant. Solidified hash oil (the dab) is meant to be smoked with a rig, much like a bong bowl, except that instead of a lighter, you use a blowtorch.

Yes, that’s right, a blowtorch.


Vaporizing is quite similar to smoking, though it involves heating the marijuana rather than burning it. Thus, vaporization is a healthier alternative since it eliminates the potential pain in the lungs and throat that comes from exposure to heat and burned organic matter.

Thai Sticks

Never heard of Thai sticks? We’re not surprised. They were popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s but fell out of use after the end of the Vietnam War.

So what exactly is a Thai stick? It’s buds of seedless marijuana skewered on a stem or stick, rolled in THC oil, and wrapped in marijuana plant leaves. The result is an extra-large cigar made completely of cannabis.

Moon Rocks

Moon rocks, like Thai sticks, are not as common as joints, blunts, and bongs, but they’re still a great way to consume marijuana.

Moon rocks are a combination of three cannabis products:

Just grab a nug of your favorite strain, dip it in honey oil, and roll it in kief. After everything has dried, you can break the moon rock into small pieces and smoke it just like other cannabis products.

Weed Snacks

Brownies, cookies, cakes — you’ve got plenty of options. Does your dispensary not have the food you desire? Do a quick google search and there’s probably a weed recipe for it.


Just like any other drug or medication, weed can be taken in the form of a capsule or a pill. This is a good strategy if you’re trying to avoid smoking, but users beware. Pills tend to be potent and very concentrated. Make sure you know how strong your dosage is.

Dissolvable Strips

Dissolvable strips come in both the THC and CBD variety. They are basically small squares of edible “paper” that dissolve when they come in contact with water (in this case, your saliva).

Ever seen or had a breath strip? Cannabis strips are pretty much the same thing but with a THC or CBD kick.


THC sprays are basically tinctures inside a spray bottle. Think breath-freshener spray and you’ve got the idea. Usually, just one or two squirts is all it takes to send you on your way to a nice, high place.


It’s not a simple process, but you can brew weed tea and even weed beer! Yes, marijuana coffee and wine are also options. Drinking cannabis isn’t as popular as eating it, but it essentially has the same effects.


Not yearning for a head high? Give topicals a try. Topicals are lotions that have been infused with cannabis for relief from pain, soreness, and inflammation. Most often, they make use of the medicinal properties of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD).


Believe it or not, you can consume cannabis simply by letting it dissolve under your tongue.

Tinctures are a liquid concentration of marijuana matter and are one of the most underrated ways to get your daily dose of cannabinoids.

If you want to avoid smoking and don’t want to wait for the effects of your special brownies to kick in, then tinctures are your new best friend. Just place a few drops under your tongue and enjoy the ride.


A transdermal cannabis patch is a thin piece of plastic coated with adhesive and infused with THC, CBD, or both.

To use, simply apply the patch to a venous part of your body (e.g., your ankle, arm, or wrist) and then wait. Your body heat activates the patch and causes it to release a small amount of the cannabinoid through your skin and into your bloodstream.


Cannabis lube isn’t going to get you high or give you the medicine you need, but it is going to make sex better. And that can be just as good.

So now that you know how to consume indica vs. sativa, let’s investigate which species is better for you.

Indica Vs. Sativa: Which Species Is Best For You?

If you want to harness the power of cannabis for medical reasons, here’s a table that clarifies the indica vs. sativa uses.

And if you want to use cannabis for recreational purposes, here are seven ways to pair the right strain with the experience.

1) You drank caffeine late in the day and want to get to bed early. What strain should you use?


2) You’re about to go to an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. What strain should you use?


3) You want to write, draw, or play with Legos. What strain should you use?


4) You’re going to the dentist. What strain should you use?

Neither. You should be 100% sober at the dentist!

5) You’re sore from the gym and are going to get a massage. What strain should you use?


6) You’re hungover and need inspiration to complete a small task. What strain should you use?


7) You’re hiking a mountain, watching a sunrise, or playing music around a campfire. What strain should you use?


You may never find yourself in exactly these situations, but you can use them as templates for your daily activities. Need to get to sleep? Ingest an indica. Want a hit of creativity? Smoke a sativa. Want to relax after a hard day? Indica. Need energy to get through the day? Sativa.

Knowing how to match indica vs. sativa with the tasks you want to perform can make both activities better.

For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100-percent all-natural marijuana products, visit today.