What Is The Difference Between Sativa, Indica and Hybrid Cannabis?

CBD cannabis leaf.

Sativa, indica and hybrid cannabis what you need to know.

Cannabis is a diverse plant with different varieties, including both male and female plants. Some are tall with skinny leaves, while others are short and wide. Different strains will have varying amounts of THC, CBD, etc., resulting in differing effects for us to use them medically or recreationally.

How to identify a indica cannabis plant. 

Some of these differences are due to different plant structures, which is why I will be focusing on the main difference between sativa and indica strains. When you look at a cannabis plant with just buds, it can be difficult to tell the difference between sativa/indica, but the physical appearance is not always an indicator. The main difference between the two will be shown in the flowering phase, when indica is usually shorter with fatter leaves.

This is because indica plants are short and bushy so they can better support their own weight. Indica plants have a fat, round stem which gives them their "couch-lock" effect, making you feel lethargic and sleepy. The leaves of indica plants are also wide, allowing for lots of surface area to capture as much sunlight as possible. Indica plants have a very large quantity of trichomes, which contain a lot of THC, making them more psychoactive than their sativa counterparts.

How to identify a sativa cannabis plant.     

In contrast, sativa cannabis plants are tall, thin and lanky. The stems of sativa plants are much skinnier which again makes them better able to support their weight when they grow very tall. Sativa plants have fewer trichomes than an indica plant because there is no need for it to be extremely viscous in order to hold up the thinner stem. Sativa also has less of a noticeable leaf structure because they do not need as much surface area to collect sunlight.

What are the effects of sativa?

Cannabis sativa is the most popular variety of cannabis and is known for its energizing and cerebral effects. The terpenes in cannabis sativa are pinene, limonene, and caryophyllene.

Pinene is the most common terpene in the world and is found in pine needles and orange peels. It's an energizing terpene that promotes focus and alertness. Limonene is another citrusy terpene that is found in lemon peel oil. It's known for its stress-relieving effects and has been shown to boost moods. Caryophyllene is a spicy terpene that is found in black pepper, cloves, and oregano. It's known for its anti-anxiety effects.

These are just a few examples of the terpenes in cannabis sativa, but there are at least 200 different types of terpenes found in this "classic" variety. This combination of terpenes is why sativa cannabis has its energetic effects and why so many people love to use it during the day or on more social occasions.

What are the effects indica?

Cannabis indica, on the other hand, is popular for its sedating effects. The terpenes in this variety are linalool, myrcene, and caryophyllene. Linalool gives off a lavender scent, its calming effect and works well with anti-inflammatory medications. Myrcene is known to relieve pain and stress, which is why it's used in products with analgesic properties. Caryophyllene is the highest amount of terpene compared to any other variety, including 22% for this particular terpene. It binds to the cannabinoid receptors that trigger appetite and sedation, but it works differently than THC.

The unique scent of cannabis indica is due to the presence of terpenes linalool and myrcene. For example, Gorilla Glue, a potent hybrid that's been at the top of the charts for numerous years, has high levels of both these terpenes.

The combination of these terpenes is what creates these sedating effects and enjoyable smell, but it also binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain. This is why cannabis indica tends to be more sedating than sativa.

What are the effects of hybrids?

Then there are hybrids, which have qualities from both sativa and indica plants. . The effects of a hybrid can be more difficult to predict than some pure strains, because the genetics of the two parents are combined. This will change how they grow, but not always which effects they express.

For example, Durban Poison is a popular sativa that's known for its energizing effects on the mind, but its terpene profile is high in myrcene. This means that it has more than 50% of this sedating terpene!

This variety makes you feel alert at first, but then the effects start to feel like a stress-relieving indica since there's so much myrcene present. 

Should I try sativa, indica or hybrid cannabis?

Knowing the differences between sativa, indica and hybrid can help you pick out a strain that best suits your needs. Sativa strains are better for daytime use because they energize you, while indica is preferred for night time use since they help you fall asleep and relax. If you want to be able to function and get things done, a sativa dominant strain is more useful. If you want to relax and de-stress after work or need help falling asleep, an indica would be more beneficial.


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