Indica or Sativa – What’s the difference?

Indica or Sativa – What’s the difference?

The distinction between Indica and Sativa started back in the 18th century when differences in structure and growing pattern were first recorded. There are many strains on the market today, Pure Indica, Indica Dominant,  Pure Sativa, Sativa dominant and Hybrids – a mix of the two. The hybrid category was added at a later stage as growers began mixing the Sativa and Indica together. So which should you choose, Indica or Sativa?

Cannabis has potential medical benefits, certain combinations of Indica and Sativa can provide different benefits and can be targeted for specific ailments.

Even though there are notable differences between the two, sometimes they are over generalized and so it is also relevant to look at the cannaboids and terpenes contained. Cannaboids such as THC or CBD are molecular structures with their own properties and medical benefits. Terpenes are the oils secreted in cannabis resin that modulate the effects of cannaboids and again they have their own set of effects. In summary, strains are the sum of all of these smaller parts that may be passed on genetically, explaining the consistency in strain types, however, there is still room for variation. Other things that may affect effects are the way in which the plant is grown.

Indica or sativa

Indica or sativa


Indica Structure

Indica plants are usually short in stature compared to the Sativa plant. Best suited for indoors, the Indica can be a manageable height.

The leaves on an Indica plant are short and wide. The overall structure is fuller than the Sativa.

Indica’s originated from higher altitudes and are found predominantly in Morocco, Nepal, Afghanistan and Turkey – where they are known for their Hash culture. They developed thick coats of resin to protect against harsh climates.

The flowering time with an Indica plant is considerably shorter than the Sativa. Sometimes they can have as little as 45 days. The average time however, is around 8 to 10 weeks.

Indica’s in the main, have higher yields than the Sativa (there are some exceptions)

The most popular Indica strains include Northern Lights, Kush, White Widow

Indica Effects

The usual effects from an Indica plant are physically strong, sometimes referred to as “couch-lock”. It may make you sleepy and relaxed, content to sit back and watch the world go by! Typically it is used at night time.

Indica Smells and Flavours

Indica dominant strains usually have a strong, sweet or sour smell. You will get more fruity flavours in most of the Kush varieties and Skunk flavours found in Indica hybrids.

Indica Medical Properties

Some of the medical properties associated with an Indica strain are:

Sleeping disorders
General anxiety
Muscle relaxant
Relieves spasms
Reduces seizures
Relieves headaches or migraines
Relieves stress

In general, Indicas are very effective in relieving pain and insomnia. Medical patients usually use Indica before bed as it can aid sleep due to its relaxing effects.


Sativa Structure

Sativa plants have a tall, lanky structure and in some cases can grow to over 7 metres!

The Sativa leaves are long and thin.

Sativas originated from an area around the equator and can usually be found in countries such as Columbia, Thailand, Mexico and in African Nations. Coping and thriving in variable weather conditions and in temperate areas closer to the equator.

The Sativa plant takes time to grow to maturity, sometimes up to 20 weeks. It has smaller yields than the Indica plant.

The most popular strains of Sativa include Purple Haze, Sour Diesel and Jack Herer

Sativa Effects

Sativa plants have an uplifting effect, euphoric, active and creative and stimulating. Useful in the daytime when you have you day to day activities to carry out.
Many artistic people will take advantage of the Sativa high as it stimulates creativity.

Typically it is used during the day, from morning to afternoon.

Sativa Smells and Flavours

You will usually find a more grassy odour to Sativa plants. You can have some fruity varieties such as Fruity Thai or Amnesia, on the other hand you can have cat-piss flavour (nice!!) which is more of an ammonia fragrance.

Sativa Medical Properties

Some of the medical effects associated with Sativa plants are:

Feeling uplifted and positive
Feeling at ease with a sense of well being
Full of energy
More focused
Feeling more creative, stimulated

As the feelings from the Sativa are all positive, it can be used as a great fighter against depression or fatigue.


Hybrids are a mix of Sativa and Indica plants, each mix will have a different percentage of each parent giving different effects and having different flavours and aromas.


Originating from Russia, cannabis ruderalis is a wild variety which is incredibly short, produces little THC and have been found to possess a chemical profile similar to hemp. It is thought it is more likely to be a hybrid than a species of its own. Many believe it to be a descendant of Indica genetics. In recent years it has been brought indoors and influences new hybrid varieties.

Usually, the ruderalis grows between one and two and half feet tall with thick and sturdy stems. The buds are small but chunky.

The feature that sets the ruderalis apart is its flowering cycle, which is usually 21-30 days after vegetation. Its whole cycle from seed to harvest is around 70-110 days. Instead of being activated by the photoperiod, ruderalis is induced according to its maturity. This is why most are seen as “autoflowering” strains.

The effects of the ruderalis alone are minimised due to its low THC levels, however, its short stature and quick lifecycle make it versatile and offers breeders to create an autoflowering hybrid with the potency and flavour from its genetic counterpart.