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How to tell the difference between

Indica vs. Sativa


The first recorded observations of the differences between Indica and Sativa cannabis plants dates back to the 18th century. People started noticing that cannabis plants had differences in their structure and resin production. Fast forward to today and we now have established standards and conditions for each type of cannabis plant.

Let’s begin by defining cannabis. Cannabis is a type of flowering plant that has several species within the plant. The three main species of cannabis are Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruderalis. While all three of these subspecies have very distinguishable appearances and physiological effects, we will only be focusing on Indica and Sativa as Ruderalis plants are small and produce very little medicine that is useful to the medical and recreational cannabis community.   

Indica and Sativa are the most common cannabis plants and each type provides its own unique effects physically and mentally. These effects result in a large spectrum of medicinal benefits. It is generally known that strains of cannabis-derived from Indica create an effect of deep relaxation and Sativa leans more towards a more energizing experience.

The unique effects of Cannabis are now recognized as having medical benefits which aid a wide variety of medical conditions from common to more serious diseases. It’s important to understand which type of cannabis species you are consuming because each strain has its own effects and can have positive or negative effects depending on the individual.


Cannabis Sativa is essentially the opposite of Indica in look, feel, taste, smell, even the structure of the plants growing cycle is extremely different. Cannabis Sativa is indigenous to the warm climates of Central America, and Southeast Asia. This tropical habitat of Sativas tells us that these plants thrive in the heat and the outdoors. Sativa plants are generally much taller than Indica and can grow higher than 25 feet tall but usually stay under 12 feet. Sativa plants are thin and have wide spaces between their branches compared to Indica. They have thin leaves with branches that grow long and sprout narrow leaves that are usually light green in color. Sativa buds are longer and thinner with bud particles that almost look like tiny hairs. While the bud itself may appear larger than those from an Indica plant, they tend to be a bit lighter when you actually weigh them out. The growing cycle of a Sativa is much longer to reach a plant’s full maturity, this also requires significantly more light than the Indica plant. The potency of a Sativa bud usually has low CBD count and very high THC counts. These are the main character traits of Cannabis Sativa, now let’s take a look at some of the most known medical benefits of this species of cannabis.       


Some of the well-known effects from Sativa cannabis are:     

  • Anti-anxiety
  • Anti-depression
  • Focus
  • Creativity
  • Help with chronic pain  
  • Increase your serotonin

Smell, taste and High

When is come to the smell, taste and high of Sativa we see differing effects verse the Indica plant. We often find an uplifting and energizing feeling from Sativa strains and the high is stimulating and better suited for daytime use. Sativa strains often aid in better focus, conversation and can increase creativity.

A quality Sativa should give a similar stimulation compared to a cup of coffee. Sativa strains are known to be very pungent in smell, having aromas from sweet and fruity to earthy undertones. You are most likely to find sweet and tropical aromas in Sativa strains. Now let’s take a look into Cannabis Indica!



Cannabis Indica is said to have originated in the Hindu Kush region near Afghanistan, and in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Due to extreme and harsh weather conditions from where this species of cannabis originated from it has developed a thick layer of resin to protect itself. Indica plants are typically short and bushy usually between 3-6 feet tall. They have a strong stem with short and wide leaves, they have a dark green and sometimes even shades of purple. The buds that are produced from Indica plants are dense, wide and bulky. This makes it easier to grow indoors because the plants do not need as much space to reach full maturity as a Sativa would need. Indica plants typically grow faster and have a higher yield than the Sativa variety. The cannabinoids produced from Indica plants have higher CBD and lower THC counts.  


Some of the well-known effects from Indica cannabis are:

  • Increases appetite
  • Increases dopamine
  • Increased mental relaxation
  • Decreased Nausea
  • Decrease pain
  • Muscle relaxation

Smell, taste and High

Now let’s take a look at the smell, taste and high of Cannabis Indica. Indica plants are known to give more of a body rather than a cerebral one. The flavors and smells of an Indica strain typically go along the lines of earthy, fruity and Skunky. Overall Indica is a better suited for night time use and will produce a more sedative high verse the energetic high of a Sativa providing deep relaxation, sleep, relieves pain and even stimulates appetite.

A handful of the common benefits to the strain are muscle relaxation, pain relieving, and a full body sedative effect. When consuming cannabis Indica you can expect to have a more concentrated effect in your body and limbs when medicating. Indica is also well known for its effects with anti-anxiety and being an extremely effective treatment for anxiety.

When using cannabis recreationally or medicinally it is extremely important to understand the difference between Indica and Sativa. We have learned that they have many differences from the way they look, smell and grow but also the different effects that each species provides. This will help you choose the right strain for you because we are all different and have different conditions that need to be treated.


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