Indica vs Sativa

Sativa vs. Indica: Facts & Myths

What’s the first decision you make when deciding which cannabis strain to try? For most people, it’s whether to get an Indica or Sativa. These terms have become the two different worlds of cannabis; India for relaxing, unwinding, chilling out, or falling asleep, while Sativa is stimulating, energizing, and buzz-y. Is this always the case, though? Where did the terms originate, and what do they really mean?

Keep reading to get the real story of Indica vs. Sativa, as we debunk some myths and spread some facts, so you can pick a new cannabis strain with confidence!

​Myth: ‘Indica’ means sedative, ‘Sativa’ means stimulating.
Fact: The terms​ Indica​ and​ Sativa​ actually refers to plant biology, not effects.

Indicas are shorter plants, with thicker stems and broader, darker green leaves. These physical features allow cannabis Indica to absorb more sunlight and heat, allowing it to grow in colder climates. Another adaptation of Indicas is a shorter flowering time, saving energy when light and warmth are less abundant.

In contrast, Sativas grow taller, with narrower, bright green leaves. Cannabis Sativa thrives in warmer climates with a long growing season, which also means Sativas flower much more.

The effects of these sister plants differ as well, and these differences have led to the general distinction of Indicas as relaxing and sedating and Sativas as stimulating and energizing. However, what is more important in determining effects is the cannabinoid (THC, CBD, etc.) composition and the terpene profile (myrcene, linolene, etc.). This is why some plants technically categorized as Sativa or Indica will actually have reverse effects. Therefore, it’s more important to analyze the overall composition of the strain than only considering the plant’s lineage.

It’s not just how it grows that matters. Cannabinoids and terpenes are the real dictators of effects.

Understanding this difference is leading the cannabis industry away from using ‘Indica’ or ‘Sativa’ as a descriptor of effects. It’s more common (and accurate) to use phrases such as “Sativa-like” or “Indica-like.” Further, cannabis companies are starting to more thoroughly list the terpenes present in the strain, so consumers can better choose the right product.

Myth: There's pure Indica, pure Sativa, and then Hybrids.
Fact: All modern cannabis cultivation is a 'hybrid.

It’s even proposed that so-called pure Indicas or Sativas don’t even exist anymore. When purchasing a product labeled as one or the other, it means that the ​dominant ​genetics are more Indica or Sativa, and/or that the effects are more like one type.

When a cannabis product is labeled as a Hybrid, it means that this particular strain has been cultivated to produce specific qualities and effects typically associated with both genetics. When consumed, Hybrid product starts with Sativa-like cerebral stimulation, followed by an Indica-like relaxation of the body. Remember, this combination of effects is a result of more than plant genetics; cannabinoid ratio (such as THC and CBD), as well as the recipe of terpenes (​limonene energizes, while ​myrcene​ relaxes).

Hybrids are wonderful for individuals who need pain relief during the day, but without getting sleepy. If treating both anxiety and depression simultaneously, the right hybrid can help uplift the mind with Sativa-like energy, but balanced with an Indica-like mellowness.

It’s also important to note that everyone’s body is unique, and will process cannabis differently. What may be too relaxing to one person could be just right for another. While one ‘Sativa-like’ strain may induce anxiety, a different ‘Sativa-like’ strain could give that same person the perfect little boost. Feel free to ask Trulieve’s patient consultant for more info on any particular strain, and be sure to take note of what works (or doesn’t) for ​you​.

Things to remember when strain shopping:

  • Decide what effects you want, whether relaxed or energized, or a combination.
  • Consider the cannabinoids and terpenes, not only whether a strain is more genetically similar to an Indica or Sativa.
  • Explore hybrids as an option to get the effects you want.