What is the real difference between sativa and indica?


When I walk into a dispensary and ask about different strains, the first thing every single salesperson mentions is whether the strain is an indica or a sativa or a hybrid. Most people who have heard of indica and sativa know that sativas cause dizziness and indica offers a calmer experience. If you also know this, you are wrong. The difference between indica and sativa has absolutely nothing to do with the feeling you get when you smoke it.

Table of Contents The Real Difference Between Sativa and Indica

The real difference between sativa and indica comes from the structure of the plant and the length of the growth cycles. Sativa plants can be very tall with long narrow leaves, while Indica plants never reach the same height and produce wider leaves. Sativa plants also require much longer flowering cycles, making them suitable for dry and hot climates. Indica plants flower much faster and can cope with colder climates with shorter growing seasons.

While interesting and important to growers, these characteristics have no impact on the experience you have when you consume it!

What to use instead of Indica vs Sativa

When you smoke a plant, you ingest chemicals produced by the plant. The most important chemicals in the cannabis plant are called cannabinoids. Among the many different cannabinoids, THC and CBD have the greatest impact on the experience and sensation associated with a strain.

THC takes over the high, while CBD causes most of the effects on the body and the feeling of relaxation. THC functions as a psychoactive chemical, while CBD is antipsychotic. The ratio between these two cannabinoids determines whether a strain will make you want to be creative and energetic (high THC) or relax on the couch (high CBD).

Terpenes from Indica and Sativa species

Species-specific terpenes can also influence the experience, but less is known and proven about their specific effects. Many plants other than cannabis produce terpenes, and aromatherapy is basically the understanding and practice of using different terpenes. These unique molecules give cannabis flavor and aroma, but they can also have their own active properties. More research is needed to identify specific terpenes, but it is generally believed that the terpene profile plays a role in the overall experience of a cannabis strain.

Final Thoughts

It’s time to stop saying a strain is indica, sativa or hybrid unless you are a grower. These terms really only relate to the growth morphology of the cannabis plant! As you research the details about cannabis for your own needs, hopefully you can make a more informed decision and educate others as well.

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