Sativa vs. Indica: How to Choose Your Strain

There are more than 1,000 different cannabis strains available.

How do you choose the one that meets your needs?

You can start by looking closer at the differences between the two most common types: Sativa and Indica.

Sativa vs. Indica is really THC vs. CBD

  • The two most-studied cannabinoids are THC and CBD
  • These two compounds are believed to cause the most effects
  • There are hundreds of other chemicals that could impact your overall experience
  • THC
    • Contains the psychoactive properties.
    • Produces a “cerebral high” and sense of euphoria
  • CBD
    • Does not produce a “high”
    • Affects moods and can relieve pain

 The Differences in the Strains

Botanists classify cannabis plants based on the various physical and chemical differences.

Chemical and Botanical Properties of Sativa Strains

  • Tend to have more THC than CBD
  • Produce skinny, light-green leaves
  • Plants are tall and slim
  • Require more time to mature
  • Must be cultivated in warmer climates with long seasons
  • Produce sweet, fruity, or spicy aromas

Chemical and Botanical Properties of Indica Strains

  • Tend to have more CBD than THC
  • Produce broad, dark-green leaves or bushy greenery
  • Plants have short, woody stalks
  • Have a shorter flowering cycle
  • Can be cultivated in cold, short seasons
  • Produce more buds than sativa strains
  • Produce earthy, musty, or skunky aromas

What are The Effects?

Every strain is different, and even the same strain can affect individuals differently.

Based on the THC and CBD content, though, these effects are commonly reported:

Sativa Effects

  • Invigorating energy
  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Focus and creativity increase
  • Depression relief
  • Relief from headaches, nausea, appetite loss

Indica Effects

  • Relaxation
  • “Full body” effects
  • Pain relief
  • Sedative effects reduce insomnia
  • Affects moods

Is It Only Cannabinoids?

A combination of factors can change the effects, including:

  • Cannabinoids (THC, CBD)
  • Terpenes (myrcene, limonene, terpinolene)
  • Your individual tolerance level
  • Consumption method

Know the Side Effects

Before starting a new strain, you should know the potential side effects.

  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

Most side effects are associated with THC content.

Side effects may be more pronounced depending on the method of consumption.

Consuming Sativa or Indica

The way you consume cannabis impacts the experience.

  • Smoking or vaping – Quicker effects, but can irritate the lungs and airways.
  • Edibles – Slower effects but may be easier to tolerate.
  • Time of day
    • Sativa – Recommended for daytime use
    • Indica – Recommended for nighttime use

 Should You Choose Sativa or Indica?

To find the strain you want, first ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this for medical purposes?
    • If yes, what conditions do you seek to treat?
  • Is this for chronic pain?
    • Have you discussed it with your doctor?
    • Are there any potential interactions with your current medications?
  • Is this for recreational purposes?
    • If yes, what experiences do you seek?
    • How long do you want the experience to last?
  • Are you new to cannabis?
    • How will your experience determine dosage or potency?
  • Are you susceptible to anxiety, paranoia or other known side effects?

Cannabis Selection Tips

  • Don’t buy based on the strain alone
    • Use this knowledge as a base to get started
    • Look at the description on ever individual strain
  • Understand that you may not get the best strain for you on the first try
    • Your individual tolerances and biochemistry will impact the experience
  • Always speak with a doctor before treating any medical condition
  • Be open to new experiences before locking yourself into any single strain