Sativa vs. Indica – What is a strain anyways?
When contemplating which marijuana strain is best for you and the differences associated with them, most users find themselves fully or partially unaware of the different species of cannabis and the highly differing benefits, effects, growth processes and types of use related to it.
First of all, I should explain what species of the Cannabis family exist and how they differ from each other.
In essence, the three main breeds of Medical Marijuana are:
|Hybrids (Combo of the two)|
Each of these main breeds have different characteristics, benefits and the medical effects they provide to the consumer. Understanding those differences and the variations shared between them can be one of the most important things to consider when choosing the strain that will provide you with the greatest benefits and effects that are uniquely tailored to your unique needs and preferences.
But you’re going to need some information on the unique characteristics of each strain and the different effects they have when used.
Sativa Vs. Indica (Vs. Hybrid!) Strains
Photo Credit: Violet Gin/Shutterstock.com
Besides the difference in cannabinoid content, the two strains largely contrast each other in the balance of other phytochemical compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids. (I’m sure you’re all thinking, “Yay, Mary Jane! More chemistry crap!”)When it comes to the unique characteristics and effects of these two main strains, the most important and main difference can be traced down all the way to the chemical level. You see, the most important difference between the Indica and Sativa strains is found in the very composition of the cannabinoid content they possess, hence the highly differing effects and benefits they provide upon consumption.
For example, when it comes to Sativa strains, in most cases they are empowered with the high THC content and low CBD content, while on the other side Indica Strains are exactly the opposite – equipped with a lower THC content and the higher CBD values.
However, thanks to the innovative breeding processes, you have the opportunity to find both the Sativa and Indica strains with highly varying THC:CBD cannabinoid concentrations.
When it comes to the effects and benefits both strains tend to provide, it is common knowledge that the Sativa Strains usually provide an uplifting, “happy” cerebral, or popularly known as “head high” while the Indica Strains tend to produce a more relaxing, body – oriented, calming, appetite stimulating effect.
While the CBD and THC concentration we’ve just talked about do play an important role in providing these specific effects to the consumer, it’s important to know that a whole range of other substances also play their part in creating this distinctiveness and uniqueness between the different strains.
To give you an example of this…
…research has revealed that there are over 120 (yes, you’ve heard it right, over one hundred and twenty!) different terpenes in a single Cannabis strain. Terpenes whose uniquely characterized balance and concentrations play an incredibly important role in influencing what type of benefits, effects or as its commonly called “high” the different strains of Marijuana are going to deliver.
After the most popular THC (the cannabinoid largely responsible for Marijuana’s psychoactive effects), the number two most prevalent and crucial cannabinoid that is naturally found in Marijuana is CBD. CBD, THC’s less famous cousin, is not only extremely valuable and responsible for most of the medical benefits that Marijuana is known to deliver, but it also plays an important role in influencing the way THC interacts with our body, improving, balancing and modulating its effect. If you were to describe the fundamental difference between the Sativa and Indica strains and the way they influence users – you could in the simplest terms say that Sativa has a profound effect on the mind, while Indica is more inclined towards working on the Body.
Let’s take a look at the different traits, benefits and effects each strain delivers…
…and in what ways are they different.
|Warm & Positive Feeling||Influence Body instead of mind|
|Stimulates Appetite & Creative Thinking||Soothing & Relaxing, Laid Back – Perfect For Night Use|
|Boosts self-confidence, Enhances Feeling of Well-Being||Strong Sedation Properties – Great for Insomnia|
|Headache & Migraine Relief||Powerful Natural Pain Reliever & Anxiety/Stress Relief|
|Highly Efficient Nausea Cure||Large Range of Anti-Inflammatory Properties|
|Potent natural solution for depression relief||Strong Natural Anti-Seizure & Anti-Spasm Remedy|
|Mood Enhancing||Can Stimulate Appetite|
Now, when it comes to the main Cannabis strains – Indica and Sativa, I wouldn’t do the topic justice if I neglected mentioning the increasingly popular Hybrid strains.
Hybrid Marijuana strains have been specifically bred in order to combine the best traits of both Indica and Sativa…
…while providing consumers with powerful effects that present the both of both worlds and are uniquely tailored to their specific needs and requirements.
They’re specifically combined to provide unique characteristics, traits and benefits of both strains that are uniquely tailored to the users preferences (and the fact that there are literally hundreds of hybrid strains available), there is no generalized list of medical traits for hybrid cannabis strains.
They simply encompass such a broad range of unique characteristics, effects and benefits that they can’t be put in a single category and generalized in any way.
However, one general thing that can be said about the Hybrid types is that the users typically report that they prefer the CBD rich or Indica dominant strains when it comes to the medical benefits.
The Differences in Growth Between the Indica and Sativa Strains
Researchers are fully aware that most marijuana users will prefer and mostly find interests in the sole discussion of medical effects, benefits and the differences each strain provides, however, I thought it would be worthwhile to give you some practical information on the growing traits of each strain in order to further your understanding and help you make the best choice.
I’ll be quick and only express the most significant characteristics before I get back to the effects.
Let’s start with Sativa…
Sativa usually grows very tall, anywhere from 1 – 3 meters (3-9 feet), with heights ranging up to 5m (15 feet) when grown outdoors. They’re long, thin and very bushy, the reason why they require constant trimming.
The long flowering periods make them perfectly suited for outdoor growth.
Nothing changes in terms of highly differing characteristics of the two breeds when it comes to the growth characteristics.
Indica is much shorter and endowed with a dark green, fat leaves which is due to the higher amounts of chlorophyll. The yield is usually higher than that of Sativa, and Indicas produce very fragrant buds, but have a shorter flowering period which makes them much better suited for indoor cultivation.
If you want to become or just became a licensed and legal Cannabis grower, I’m sure this information will help you a great deal when choosing the most suitable strain to grow when it comes to your unique situation, capabilities and preferences. I’ll be sure to dig into this subject more at a later date.
Now that you know that there are literally hundreds of different hybrid strains and the effects they deliver, it’s important to note that there are, even in the scientific community, certain sources that claim that the different breeds of marijuana don’t provide significantly different effects at all. These sources claim that the significant difference in felt effects is mostly due to the placebo, and that ALL strains pretty much provide universally highly similar effects.
The Cannabis community was stunned…
…when the Medical Cannabis expert Jeffrey Raber, who holds a USC Ph.D. in chemistry (and due to the backlash to his claims from the Cannabis community has stated, Ph.D. in party-breaking as well), boldly claimed that all strains of Marijuana relatively produce the same effects. He also went on to oppose the common knowledge by claiming that common conception of Indicas producing relaxing, sedating effects and Sativas being more uplifting is a myth.
“The data shows that indica and sativa is just morphology,” Jeffrey Raber went on to say, “It’s a misperception that Indica will put you to sleep or that sativa is more energetic.” [Source: LA Weekly, http://www.laweekly.com/news/marijuana-strains-like-og-kush-are-meaningless-expert-says-4173909]
The claims caused a noticeable response among Cannabis user community. Most came in through the various forms of mockery. “You’re telling us that the fact Indica has put me straight to sleep in 20 minutes while Sativa providing me with enough energy to run a marathon is all a placebo? Our experiences account for nothing? Is Universe only a holographic display?” are the sentences that pretty much sum up the feelings regular Marijuana users had towards his statements.
However, even with my firm allegiance to the stance that the different strains provide significantly varying effects, would it be wise to give Raber’s arguments a consideration?
I believe it is true that every different strain of cannabis can have huge differences in effects, potency and aroma…
…because of the different growing conditions they are subjected to.
Having that considered and also adding on the fact that every single individual is differently affected by the strains due to a whole range of factors including: gender, weight, immune system, tolerance and more, maybe it would be wise to give Raber’s statements some credit.
Considering that, in essence, Raber doesn’t suggest that all of the Cannabis strains are the same: but that we need a new classification system that will provide more accurate expectations.
Raber’s main concerns is the way Marijuana retailers make claims towards the patients supporting the fact that their strain is highly different from others and equipped with precisely the effects they are looking for. When in some cases, this is simply scientifically inaccurate, for a whole range of factors, including the ones I mentioned earlier.
A more accurately developed system based on even stricter research process would do wonders at improving accountability of independent producers and making sure that each of the hybrid strains provided to the patients actually has the properties it claims to have.
However, this process is still in its earliest stage of development due to the issues the marijuana industry still faces with legislation, administration and legalization in many states and on the Federal level.
At this particular moment, a new form of systematization comes second, or third on the list of priorities with first being the raising of funding that would enable the medical and recreational Marijuana (and all its strains) to be widely accessible to all the patients requiring it.
For now, we’ll satisfy for the broad scientific research that revealed the proven differences between Sativa, Indica and its hybrids.
I sincerely hope that the information found within this article will provide you with all the knowledge you could possibly need in order to make the wisest choice that is most uniquely tailored to your specific requirements and needs.
What strain do you prefer? Which provides you with the most benefits?
Let me know in the comments!
Overwhelmed by all the info out there? Check out this article for an intro to marijuana.
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I am not a doctor and this is not to be taken, interpreted or construed as medical advice. Please talk with a licensed medical professional about this or any conditions you have or may believe you have. The information in this article is provided as an information resource only. These are just my own personal opinions and not a prescription or a diagnosis or any form of health care whatsoever.