Cannabis is among the oldest crops in the world. Its cultivation can be traced back thousands of years. Yet, there is still so much to learn and talk about this plant. Specifically regarding what cannabis can and can't do.

A major part of that conversation is fuelled by the effects that different strains have on the consumer.

You might have already noticed that strains of cannabis are commonly broken up into two distinct species groups: indica and sativa. Most consumers have used these two cannabis types as a touchstone for predicting effects.

In this article we will take a look at the two common types of marijuana - cannabis sativa and cannabis indica.


What is cannabis sativa?

Cannabis sativa is one of the most common forms of cannabis worldwide and has the most applications. It’s found primarily in hot, dry climates with long sunny days.


The plants are tall, skinny, and have narrow leaves. They originated from Asia but now grow worldwide.

Cannabis sativa is recognized for increasing energy levels and feelings of euphoria. It generally prescribed to help relieve migraines, depressive feelings, and anxiety.

Its reputation is associated with social gatherings, physical activity, and creativity but make sure that it is legal in your state, or that you are prescribed by a medical professional before consumption.


What is cannabis indica?

Cannabis indica is a strain of cannabis, that is often used for medical purposes. It’s a native to Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, and India.

An indica plant is a small, compact but broad plant in comparison to a sativa, but it’s also a higher yielding plant. A higher yielding means that the plants grow faster thus providing high levels of CBD and THC.


It is often prescribed to patients who need help relaxing before bed to help with pain management.


What’s the difference between cannabis indica and sativa?

Knowing how to distinguish cannabis indica from sativa is important to know. Here is how to identify them:


Cannabis Indica

Cannabis indica and sativa plants are strikingly different. Unlike sativa, indica plants are very short, stout, tight buds, with wide and dark leaves. They usually make up for their height with their dense clusters and thick and heavy buds.

Their size makes them suitable for growing indoors. They usually make around 1.5 to 2.5 ounces of bud per plant, while sativa makes around 3 ounces to 1 pound per plant.

They grow very fast from seed producing dark green foliage that loves lots of light. They flower at 8 to 12 weeks.


Cannabis Sativa

Sativa plants are tall and thin with finger-like leaves. Their trunk is usually quite thin and they produce lots of branches. Due to their size, sativa plants (which can grow to up to 25 feet tall) are better suited for growing outdoors.

Sativa plants take 12 to 14 weeks to flower as they are more delicate than indica plants. They grow best in warmer environments, such as North Africa, Mexico, South America, and Southeast Asia.


Other differences between cannabis sativa and indica include:



Calming, sedating and relaxingEnergetic and uplifting
Couch lock or body highSpacey, cerebral or hallucinogenic high
Reduces anxiety and painRelives depression
Typically has a sweet flavorTypically has an earthy flavor
High CBD levelsHigh THC levels

Medicinal Effects

Each strain of cannabis has its own range of medicinal effects on the mind and body causing many different health benefits.


Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis sativa plants have lower CBD and higher THC counts. Sativa medicinal strains have qualities such as:

  • For daily use
  • Increases serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of learning, mood, sleep, anxiety and appetite)
  • Increases focus and creativity
  • Treats chronic pain
  • Anti-depressant
  • Anti-anxiety

In addition, sativa helps those diagnosed with medical illnesses such as:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression


  • Glaucoma
  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar Disorder


Cannabis Indica

Medicine produced from cannabis indica plants have higher CBD and lower THC counts. Indica medicinal strains have major qualities like:

  • For nighttime use
  • Increases dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers)
  • Increases appetite
  • Decreases acute pain
  • Decreases nausea
  • Causes relaxation of muscles
  • Increases mental relaxation

Additionally, Indica helps those diagnosed with medical illnesses including:

  • Parkinson Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Lupus
  • Fibryomyalgia
  • Cancer
  • OCD
  • PTSD

How do you choose the right cannabis strain?

Indicas sometimes have less THC than sativas. They tend to have more sedative effects and can be useful for those who need sleep or want to relax. Generally speaking, people usually choose indicas to help relieve:

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain


  • Anxiety
  • Parkinson’s
  • Insomnia

Sativas often have high amounts of THC. Their therapeutic benefits can be great for those who want to go about their everyday tasks. It's known to help people combat:

  • Low appetite
  • Nausea
  • Glaucoma symptoms
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines

Which cannabis strain is good for you?

Before you choose indica or sativa, please consider hybrid cannabis. One of the purposes of hybrid cannabis is to combine positive characteristics from different strains of marijuana.

Some hybrid cannabis exhibit characteristics close to a pure indica strain, and these are called Indica Dominant. Others are closer to pure sativa strains and are called Sativa Dominant.

Hybrid cannabis can be classified into:

  • Sativa Dominant Hybrids: These are known for their ability to provide those who consume them with a ‘head high’. They tend to be higher-yielding than indica-dominant strains, but produce lower THC levels.

They help patients treat their symptoms of depression, PTSD, and fatigue.

  • Indica Dominant Hybrids: These are good for pain relief, while at the same time maintaining energy levels.



Cannabis isn’t as simple as many would think. Its complexity and diversity are what makes it such a remarkable plant and tool for all types of consumers.

Before choosing a cannabis strain, first reflect on what kind of results you are looking for and then speak to a health professional for a reliable opinion.