Know Your Cannabis: Eight Differences Between Indica and Sativa

Indica and sativa are two subspecies of Cannabis, an annual plant in the Cannabaceae family. Though both are Cannabis, their chemical profiles are different and therefore, the strains produce different results for patients. Here are the eight most significant differences between the indica and sativa strains.


Place of Origin

Basically, indica originated in a cooler climate, sativa in a warmer one. Indica was originally found in the Middle East—Afghanistan, Turkey, Nepal, and Morocco—where the hash culture developed. Sativa developed in equatorial countries like Mexico, Columbia, and Thailand.



The plants look different. Both have seven or nine leaves (sometimes even eleven though this is rare) but indica’s leaves are wider and they’re darker green. Sativa’s leaves are elongated, a lighter green color. Indica plants are short and densely branched. They grow to between two and four feet. Sativa is tall; the plant averages six feet, but can reach heights of up to 20 feet.


Growing Timeline

Indica grows more quickly than sativa; six to eight weeks from propagation to harvest rather than three to four months for sativa.


Chemical Profile

Indica plants have a higher CBD:THC ratio. Sativa plants have a higher THC:CBD ratio.



Indica strains tend to have a strong smell—either sweet or sour. Sativa strains are described as having a “grassy” smell.



Indica provides a relaxing “body” high associated with calmness and sleep. Sativa provides an energetic “cerebral” high associated with creativity and focus.


Time of Day Most Commonly Used

Because of its ability to induce relaxation and sleep, indica is most often used in the evening. Because of its ability to induce energy and appetite, sativa is most often used in the day.


Best Uses

Indica’s best uses are to relieve pain, nausea, spasms, and to induce sleep. Sativa’s best uses are to stimulate hunger, energy, focus, and to reduce the effects of ADHD and other behavioral issues.


And then there are the indica/sativa hybrids…a topic we’ll cover in a future blog post.



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