Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica are two different strains of cannabis, and whilst they share similarities there are some differences that can be found that relate to the effect they have on you.
When researching CBD, it’s benefits and uses, it’s important that you look into the two different strains and what that means you get from your CBD product.
When shopping for CBD products you’re likely to find items that contain either one of the two strains or a mixture of them both, a hybrid.
Here we take a look at the similarities and differences of these strains of cannabis, and help you determine which is the best for you - Indica or Sativa?
How the plants look
It’s easy to distinguish between the two plants as they look different from each other, with different heights, branch patterns and even the shape of the leaves.
The indica plant is shorter than the sativa, they’re short, bushy and have broad, dark green leaves. This plant grows more quickly compared to sativa plants.
The sativa plants have a longer stalk, with a slimmer look overall. The leaves are thinner compared to the indica and they have a lighter green colour, they take longer to mature compared with other cannabis plants too. Cannabis sativa plants have adapted to be grown in hot, dry climates and are usually found in Africa, Asia and Central America.
Both plants have big differences when it comes to their aroma, which is determined by the terpenes, a chemical compound in the plant. These terpenes determine the smell and taste of the plant. Sativas are often described as spicy, sweet and fruity, whilst indicas are associated with more earthy scents.
Chemistry of the strains
The cannabis plant is made up of more than 100 chemical compounds, the two most well-known compounds are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
When looking at the chemistry of the indica and sativa strains, the most noteworthy difference to make is that the CBD/THC ratio is higher in the sativa strain than it is in the indica strain. Typically, sativa strains of the plant will have higher levels of THC and lower amounts of CBD.
The effects of the strains
It has to be made clear that there is little scientific research to support the different effects of the two strains of the cannabis plant. A lot of this information is gathered from people sharing insights on the internet and other such things.
An internet survey, which only questioned 95 people, was put together by the Western University of Health Sciences, to look at the different effects of the indica and sativa strains. Below are some of the standout differences as noted by the marijuana users:
- They felt that indica strains help with specific medical conditions like headaches, joint pain, glaucoma and seizures.
- In terms of specific medical conditions, the respondents feel that sativa is only useful for treating weight loss.
- The users indicated that there was little difference between the two strains when it came to painful conditions such as multiple sclerosis, migraines, arthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia and muscle pain.
- The indica strain was the preferred choice to help with the management of pain, helping with sleep and sedation too.
- Whilst the sativa strain was the preferred choice for helping to enhance energy levels.
- The findings support many of the views that you’ll find online when it comes to comparing the two strains of the cannabis plant.
It needs pointing out that there is much research that needs to be done on the treatment of illnesses with cannabis and in the UK the use of CBD is only intended as a food supplement.
Here we take a further look into the indica strain of the cannabis plant. This plant originates from the Middle East and has adapted to the harsh and dry climate of the area, you’ll find it in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and Tibet.
The indica plant typically has a higher CBD level than the sativa plant. But looking at this plant on its own, the ratio of CBD to THC is very similar.
This plant is often described as a pain reliever, which offers users a relaxing high. Medical marijuana is often associated with hybrid forms of this strain. It’s also been said to be used to help to reduce nausea, as well as increase appetites.
Some users suggest that it's best to use an indica strain in the evening because of the relaxing effect it has.
The sativa plant can be found in warmer climates, with long sunny days. Typically the sativa plants will have more amounts of THC compared with the amount of CBD in them.
Generally, people perceive the sativa plants to be more energising and help to reduce anxiety. If you use a sativa dominant strain, you’re more likely to feel creative and productive, as opposed to the relaxed feeling you’d get from an indica plant. This is why it is suggested to use strains of sativa in the daytime as opposed to in the evening. Sativa is also said to help people who suffer from depression, nausea, headaches and even loss of appetite.
Hybrid strains are a combination of indica and sativa plants. They were created to help balance out the effects of the plant, as well as help them to grow more quickly and get a better crop too.
It’s common for cannabis growers to produce new strains of plants, giving them a unique selling point. These plants will of course look different and it will depend on which plant they have been produced from.
Indica or Sativa?
How will you choose the right product for you, will it be indica or sativa? Well, there are certain things you might want to consider before you make a decision.
Start easy - you’ll find when you’re shopping for CBD products that there are different amounts of CBD in the items. You’ll want to start small and build up a tolerance for it. If you go in with a high-strength product it might be too potent if you’ve never used CBD before.
What do you want to achieve? Are you trying to reduce your anxiety, treat insomnia or help boost your energy levels? When you determine what you want from the use of CBD you’ll be able to decide on indica or sativa.
Consider your health - If you’re taking any prescribed medication then you’ll need to speak with your GP as to whether or not they think CBD products would in fact help with your condition. It might be that they react with a medication that you’re already taking which would be counterproductive and a waste of money.
Different products - There are now numerous ways that you can take CBD, with different methods allowing you to feel the effects more quickly. Whether you’d like to ingest it orally under the tongue with an oil, drink it in a delicious tea, or apply it topically to areas of pain, each method should be considered to find the right one for you.
The choice of indica or sativa is completely up to you, hopefully, this will help you to determine which strain of the plant is the best for what you’d like to achieve through the use of CBD.