Sativa vs. Indica: What to Expect Across Cannabis Types and Strains

Sativa vs. Indica blog image

Whether you are a lifelong cannabis enthusiast or exploring the plant for the first time, terms like Sativa and Indica are likely familiar to you. These two are the main varieties of the cannabis plant, each with its own unique characteristics and effects. When we talk about marijuana products — be it joints, edibles, or tinctures — they’re all crafted from the flowers (or buds) of these cannabis varieties. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation; each type of cannabis plant offers a distinct experience.

In this guide, we will delve into the fascinating differences between Sativa and Indica. It’s like uncovering each variety’s personality traits, helping you understand what to expect from them. This way, you can make choices that align with your desired cannabis experience and determine what’s best for you. 

What is Sativa?

Sativa, a popular variety of the cannabis plant, is known for its high levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical compound called a cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects. 

But there’s more to Sativa than just its THC content. You can also spot a Sativa plant by its distinct physical characteristics. It typically grows tall and slender, with narrow leaves with a lighter green shade. This elegant and elongated appearance sets it apart from other cannabis varieties.

What Does Sativa Do to You?

Sativa is known for its energizing and uplifting effects. When people want to feel “high,” they turn to Sativa-based products. If you experience feelings of euphoria when smoking a joint or using another cannabis product, you are most likely enjoying Sativa weed. It can create a sensation of giddiness and tends to make people feel social and creative. You might also feel motivated and more productive when partaking in Sativa products. For this reason, it’s popular among artists, musicians, and other creative types.

What is Indica?

Indica is the other most common type of cannabis plant aside from Sativa. The majority of cultivators primarily grow Indica and Sativa strains, and most dispensaries carry these two types of cannabis. 

Indica is known for its high levels of Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid known for its soothing effects on the body. This cannabinoid composition contributes to the unique profile of Indica strains, influencing their physical attributes, cultivation needs, and the experiences they offer. 

Indica plants are generally shorter and bushier than taller and slimmer Sativa varieties. This compact stature makes Indica plants well-suited for indoor cultivation, as they require less vertical space.

The cultivation cycle of Indica strains is also notable. They usually have a shorter flowering period than Sativa plants, which can be advantageous for cultivators looking to optimize their growing cycles. This efficiency in growth and flowering often makes Indica a popular choice among cultivators.

What Does Indica Do to You?

Indica is loved for its relaxing properties, creating what many consider a mind high.  Indica effects include a deep sense of calm, sometimes even drowsiness. For this reason, many people take Indica-based products before bedtime or when unwinding at the end of the day.

Sativa vs. Indica: What are the Differences?

As the legalization of cannabis becomes more widespread, cultivators and dispensaries are able to have an increasingly open dialogue surrounding the efficacy and uses of each strain. 

Previously, when consumers had no choice but to purchase cannabis products on the black market, there was little information available on the various strains. Now, we have answers to important questions like, “What is stronger? Sativa or Indica?” and “What Sativa effects can I expect to feel?” Our goal is to provide answers to these questions and more by illuminating the benefits and usages of these two strains.

CBD-to-THC Ratio 

One of the primary differentiating traits of Sativa vs. Indica is the ratio of THC to CBD. THC and CBD are the two main chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in cannabis. They are responsible for the psychological and physical effects associated with cannabis products. 

Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which controls things like mood, memory, body temperature, and anxiety. THC or CBD can influence these functions when they enter the endocannabinoid system.

CBD is widely recognized for its calming and relaxing qualities, typically offering a soothing physical sensation that promotes tranquility and ease without inducing the psychoactive effects commonly associated with THC. 

THC, distinct from CBD, is often associated with its potential to stimulate specific cognitive effects, including perceived boosts in creativity and energy. This effect is frequently described as a ‘cerebral high’ or ‘brain high,’ emphasizing its impact on mental processes. 

In contrast, CBD is typically linked to its calming and relaxing effects, which are more body-centric. This fundamental difference between THC’s cognitively stimulating properties and CBD’s more physically oriented impact is crucial in distinguishing the unique experiences each cannabinoid offers.

Both THC and CBD are present in varying concentrations in both Sativa and Indica plants, contributing to the unique profiles of each strain and influencing the user’s experience. 

Sativa strains have more THC than CBD, which is why experiencing a high is one of the more common Sativa effects. Indica, on the other hand, has more CBD than THC. That’s why, when many people ask us, “What is Indica known for?” we tell them it’s popular for its body-calming effects.

Type of High

The main difference between Indica and Sativa is the type of high each one respectively produces. Both plants offer varying levels of THC and CBD, and these cannabinoids bind to different receptors in the brain — specifically CB1 and CB2. 

CB1 receptors impact things like cognitive function, social behavior, and emotion. CB2 receptors control more of your physical body, like your inflammatory response and immune system. These differences are the reason that when people talk about Sativa vs. Indica, they will often refer to a “body high” or a “mind high.” 

A “mind high” describes the intoxicating feeling of being high. THC, which is more prominent in Sativa, binds to those CB1 receptors in the brain and can come with feelings of joy and euphoria. However, when you get too much THC in your system, you might also experience impaired cognitive function.

With Indica plants, you get more CBD, which binds to CB2 receptors. So you’ll experience more of a body high. Many cannabis users describe this high as feeling very mellow, feeling more comfortable in their body, and even experiencing less physical pain. CBD typically offers a similar body high but does not come with side effects like cognitive impairment or giddiness. 

To demonstrate how different CBD, THC, and their resulting types of high are, it’s worth noting that THC products are typically subject to stricter regulations than CBD ones.

There is no standard amount of THC or CBD in either the Sativa or Indica plant. However, experienced farmers will meticulously tend to a plant’s needs as it grows, altering its nutrition and other care to encourage the desired cannabinoid levels. That is why it’s essential to purchase cannabis products from a verified vendor of high-quality marijuana that tests the levels of THC and CBD. This is the only way to minimize the chances of unexpected side effects.


The right cannabis strain for you will depend on what you have planned. However, Sativa is generally recommended for daytime use due to the energizing effects of its higher THC content. Indica is typically best for nighttime use because its higher CBD content can cause drowsiness. 

Since Indica creates a sense of relaxation, many people enjoy its products during the following times:

  • Bedtime. Indica can help relax your body as you ease into a restful night of sleep.
  • Self-care routine. Indica is the ideal strain when you want to slow down and encourage yourself to take a break. Many prefer Indica products for tranquil evenings spent indoors, creating a serene ambiance perfect for relaxing in a bath or immersing in a good book.
  • Times of stress. Because of Indica’s potential calming effects, some individuals turn to this strain during challenging moments to fight the physical symptoms of stress.

Sativa’s energizing effects make it a popular strain when people need to be productive, such as:

  • Organizing the home. If you’re staring down a garage that needs cleaning or an office that needs reorganizing, Sativa can give you the energy and motivation to do it.
  • Preparing a presentation. When you have a presentation to prepare for work after hours, Sativa can get those creative ideas flowing and provide the energy you need to see the project through.
  • Pre-workout routine. Some people enjoy a hit of a Sativa joint or a Sativa-forward edible before their workout because of the strain’s energizing effects.

Plant Descriptions

Sativa and Indica plants might look similar at first glance. However, they have subtle physical differences that help you tell them apart. Plus, they grow under very different circumstances. Cannabis farmers and curators can tell the two plants apart instantly.

Sativa plants are grown in dry, hot climates and are indigenous to Eastern Asia. However, today, you can find Sativa farms around the world, including in Africa and parts of Central America. 

As previously mentioned, Sativa plants are identifiable by their tall, thin stature and relatively sparse branches. Sativa plants can grow anywhere from five to even 18 feet tall, and their branches tend to be long and slender, like fingers. You can also spot a Sativa plant by its smell, which will be sweet and fruity.

Indica plants can sustain more severe weather conditions than Sativa, which is why you can find native Indica plants in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. Indica plants tend to be short and stocky compared to Sativa ones, sometimes only growing to two to four feet tall. They look more like bushes than Sativa.

Indica is also known for growing much faster than Sativa and producing more buds, which is why most cannabis products on the black market are Indica-based. Indica is simply more readily available due to its prolific plants. You will recognize Indica plants by their odor, which is earthy and musty.

Medical Efficacy 

When it comes to understanding the medical efficacy of cannabis, including Sativa and Indica strains, it’s essential to approach the subject with both openness and caution. 

While extensive research is ongoing, and some evidence suggests various potential benefits, it’s crucial to recognize that the scientific community is still unraveling the complexities of cannabis and its components. While there are promising indications for certain uses, definitive conclusions about its overall medical efficacy and long-term effects are yet to be fully established. 

Ultimately, any exploration of cannabis for medical purposes should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. They can offer advice tailored to your individual health needs and circumstances.

The Hemp Doctor Difference

At The Hemp Doctor, our commitment to quality, safety, and transparency sets us apart in the cannabis industry. We understand that when it comes to hemp-derived products, trust is key. That’s why we’ve earned the confidence of thousands of customers who rely on our commitment to maintaining the highest standards.

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Continuous Improvement: Listening to customer feedback is integral to our process. We’re constantly learning, evolving, and improving our products and services to meet our customers’ changing needs and preferences.

With The Hemp Doctor, you’re not just purchasing a product but investing in a promise of excellence. Whether you’re a seasoned cannabis user or new to the world of hemp-derived products, you can trust that you’re getting the best the industry has to offer. Ready to get started? Visit our online store and check out our wide selection of Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC products. Your wellness journey starts here!