Cannabis: Indica/Sativa/Hybrid…what’s the difference?

Posted, Edited and Photos Added by Valkyrie Extractions Admin



When browsing cannabis strains or purchasing cannabis at a dispensary, you may notice strains are commonly broken up into three distinct groups: indica, sativa, and hybrid.


Indica vs. Sativa: Understanding The Basics

Lets think about “indica” vs. “sativa” marijuana strains. Indica strains are physically sedating, perfect for relaxing with a movie or as a nightcap before bed. Sativa strains are energizing with uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. Hybrid strains are thought to have a mix of indica and sativa effects.

Indica doesn’t always mean “in da couch.” Sativa doesn’t necessarily energize all of its consumers. As research opens up, we learn more about the cannabis plant. It turns out the chemical compounds in each strain, the cannabinoids and terpenes in it, that determine the effects you’ll feel. Not whether it’s an indica or sativa.


Let’s look at where the terms “indica,” “sativa,” and “hybrid” actually come from, and how a cannabis strain’s chemical profile interacts with your unique body to make you feel effects.


Origin Of Indica And Sativa

The words “indica” and “sativa” were introduced in the 18th century to describe different species of cannabis: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.

The term “sativa” described hemp plants found in Europe and western Eurasia, where it was cultivated for its fiber and seeds.

Cannabis indica refers to the intoxicating varieties discovered in India, where it was harvested for its seeds, fiber, and hashish production.


Today, “sativa” refers to tall, narrow-leaf varieties of cannabis, thought to induce energizing effects. However, these narrow-leaf drug (NLD) varieties were originally Cannabis indica ssp. indica.

“Indica” has come to describe stout, broad-leaf plants, thought to deliver sedating effects. These broad-leaf drug (BLD) varieties are technically Cannabis indica ssp. afghanica.

What we call “hemp” refers to the industrial, non-intoxicating varieties harvested primarily for fiber, seeds, and CBD.


What Impacts Strain Effects?

The effects of different strains of weed depend on a number of different factors, but mainly on the cannabinoids and terpenes in the strain, or the chemical compounds in it.



The cannabis plant is composed of hundreds of chemical compounds that create a unique harmony of effects, which is primarily led by cannabinoids. THC and CBD are the two most common cannabinoids and are the main drivers of cannabis’ therapeutic and recreational effects.

THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) makes us feel hungry and high, and relieves symptoms like pain and nausea.

CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating compound known to alleviate anxiety, pain, inflammation, and many other medical ailments.

Cannabis contains dozens of different cannabinoids, but start by familiarizing yourself with THC and CBD first. Instead of choosing a strain based on its indica or sativa classification, consider basing your selection on these three buckets instead (both indica and sativa strains exhibit these different cannabinoid profiles):

If you tend to feel anxious with THC-dominant strains or dislike other side effects associated with THC, try a strain with higher levels of CBD.

Balanced THC/CBD strains contain similar levels of THC and CBD, offering mild euphoria alongside symptom relief. These tend to be a good choice for novice consumers seeking an introduction to cannabis signature high.



If you’ve ever used aromatherapy to relax or invigorate your mind and body, you understand the basics of terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic compounds commonly produced by plants and fruit. They can be found in lavender flowers, oranges, hops, pepper, and of course, cannabis. Secreted by the same glands that ooze THC and CBD, terpenes are what make cannabis smell like berries, citrus, pine, fuel, etc.

There are many types of terpenes found in cannabis, and it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the most common—especially myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, and terpinolene, since they’re the most likely to occur in pronounced levels in cannabis.



What Is Sativa?

While not all sativa marijuana strains will energize you, most consumers notice a tendency for sativas to produce a “head high,” an uplifting, stimulating effect. They also often report sativas as being helpful in mitigating stress or anxiety, and many consumers enjoy sativas to sharpen focus and boost creativity/motivation.


Sativa Effects

Common effects associated with sativa strains include feeling happy, uplifting, euphoric, and energetic.


Popular Sativa Strains

There are many sativa strains to try, and you’ve likely heard of some of the most popular. Most dispensaries should stock at least some of these sativa weed strains as they’re generally a crowd-favorite.


Sour Diesel

Jack Herer

Green Crack

Durban Poison

Strawberry Cough

Amnesia Haze

Super Lemon Haze

Super Silver Haze

Durban Poison


What Is Indica?

Not all indica strains will put you “in da couch,” but nevertheless, many consumers associate indicas with full-body effects, for example, heavy limbs or a tingly face. They also report indicas as being helpful in aiding relaxation and curbing insomnia.


Indica Effects

Common effects associated with indica strains include feeling relaxed, euphoric, happy, and sleepy.

Popular Indica Strains

There are many indica strains to try, many of which you may be familiar. Check your local dispensary for these popular indica weed strains.


Purple Punch

Granddaddy Purple

White Rhino

Bubba Kush

Northern Lights


Grape Ape

Blue Cheese



What Are Hybrid Strains?

Hybrid strains are bred from both indica- and sativa-descended plants. Most strains referred to as “indica” or “sativa” are, in fact, hybrids, with genetics inherited from both subspecies.


Hybrid Effects

Since hybrid weed strains derive genetics from indicas and sativas, their ensuing effects can also pull from both indica and sativa strains.

Looking at a hybrid’s lineage (its parent strains) may give you a better sense of what kind of effects it will produce; for example, if it has more indica in its lineage, it might have effects more associated with those strains.


Popular Hybrid Strains

There’s certainly no shortage of hybrid strains on the market, and some of the most popular you’ll come across are also among the most iconic.


Blue Dream


Wedding Cake


OG Kush

White Widow

Pineapple Express

Wedding Cake


Indica vs. Sativa FAQs

Although there are plenty of resources for learning about the differences between cannabis types, sometimes you just want to know the basics. Below are answers to some common questions about indica and sativa marijuana.


Is There Really A Difference Between Indica And Sativa?

There is no difference in the effects of indica and sativa.

Does Sativa Give You Energy?

While there is no scientific evidence that sativas give you energy, they are believed to be uplifting and euphoric.


Does Sativa Give You The Munchies?

Sativa strains may help stimulate your appetite and give you the munchies, but it depends on your body chemistry.


Will Sativa Keep You Up At Night?

Smoking sativa likely won’t keep you up at night like drinking a coffee late in the day would.


Does Indica Make You Sleepy?

In general, indicas tend to be relaxing which can make people feel sleepy.


Will Indica Make Me Feel Paranoid?

If you’re prone to anxiety or paranoia while sober, indica strains may make your paranoia worse.


Will Indica Turn My Eyes Red?

There is no guarantee indica will or will turn your eyes any more red than sativa will.


Cannabis is a personal experience, and how you select it is too. Some of you are happy to sit down with any strain, any time, and that’s okay. For others, there is a level of precision in strain selection that is key to having a good experience—and feeling good is what cannabis is all about.



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