Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrid: What’s the Difference?
Marijuana comes in various different strains, generally divided into three types: indica, sativa, and hybrid. Sativa and indica are two distinct types of marijuana plants, but the two can also be bred together to create hybrid plants. In addition to looking and growing differently, they may have different effects when inhaled.
In general, sativa strains are said to be more uplifting. They can make you more focused, creative, and energetic. Indica strains are believed to have a more sedating effect, often used for physical and mental relaxation. Hybrid strains offer properties of both in varying degrees.
So how is each strain used, and which is best-suited for different medical and recreational purposes? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between sativa, indica, and hybrid cannabis strains.
What is Cannabis Indica?
Indica plants are identifiable for being short and dense, with wide leaves. They are well-suited to cooler temperatures, often growing in cold, mountainous, climates. Cannabis growers often grow indica plants indoors. They grow much faster than sativa strains, fully maturing in around 8 weeks. Some can be harvested in as little as two weeks.
Indicas are high in THC, CBN, and CBD cannabinoids. Indica strains have a reputation for relaxing and sedating effects. They are believed to reduce anxiety, increase dopamine, and provide pain relief.
In medical dispensaries, indica strains are targeted at patients with cancer, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Strains of this type are common as they are easy to grow and harvest. Popular examples of indica strains include Hindu Kush, Bubba Kush, Northern Lights, and G13.
What is Cannabis sativa?
When compared with indica plants, sativa plants grow taller, thinner, and with narrower leaves. They generally have brighter leaves than their indica counterparts and take longer to grow. Once a sativa plant begins to flower, it can take up to sixteen weeks to fully mature. They are often grown outside and can grow up to 20 feet.
Sativa plants have a higher ratio of THC and less CBD than their indica counterparts. Sativa strains are considered to be stimulating. They are said to increase serotonin, promote focus and creativity, and reduce anxiety and depression.
Due to their uplifting effects, sativa strains are often used to treat ADHD, depression, and mood disorders such as bipolar. They’re also often used to treat chronic pain and terminal illnesses such as HIV/AIDs, glaucoma, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Sativa strains are generally less common than indica strains. They take a longer time to grow and require a lot of sunlight, making them harder to grow indoors. However, a lot of marijuana can be harvested from sativa plants if they are given time to grow. Popular strains of this type include Sour Diesel, Green Crack, Amnesia Haze, and Purple Haze.
What are hybrid strains?
Many growers crossbreed indica and sativa plants, leading to a hybrid plant with properties of both. The attributes these plants inherit from each type can be unpredictable. For instance, they may offer the growth speed of an indica plant with the high yield of a sativa plant.
The strains obtained from these plants can also offer properties from both indica and sativa strains. They can be indica-dominant, sativa-dominant, or fall around 50/50 between both.
Hybrid strains are very popular on the marijuana market both for recreational and medical purposes. They’re marketed as offering the best of both worlds and targeting many medical symptoms. Popular examples include Blue Dream, OG Kush, White Widow, and Pineapple Express.
Are indica and sativa strains really that different?
Although marijuana sellers have a long-running history of distinguishing between these three strains, there has been much debate on how much they really differ. Some people believe that the differing effects of each strain are largely exaggerated.
This view isn’t uncommon. In fact, neurologist and psychopharmacologist Ethan Russo claimed in an interview that the indica/sativa distinction may be largely futile. He claims it is impossible to determine the biochemical content of these plants purely based on their physical properties.
That’s not to say that different strains don’t offer different effects. It’s been well established that high-CBD products offer a range of medical and therapeutic benefits. Products higher in THC, on the other hand, offer stronger psychoactive effects.