Sativa vs Indica: What's the Difference?

If there's one thing every cannabis user should know about before stopping by the dispensary, it's the difference between Sativa vs Indica strains. Each type offers the user a completely different high, partnered with unique health benefits and potential drawbacks. You definitely don't want to be smoking an Indica in a situation where a Sativa would do you much better!

Here's a complete guide on Sativa vs Indica strains, and what you can expect from each.

What Is a Sativa Strain?

Sativa strains, known for their tall height and thin leaves, are typically described as giving off a "head high" when taken.

When you smoke, vape, or otherwise ingest a Sativa strain, you may feel lighter than before. You might feel giggly, euphoric, and experience a boost in mood. You may even feel more alert, awake, and energetic than before.

Sativa strains typically have more THC than CBD, meaning a stronger high in general.

Many creative types use Sativa strains to enhance their creativity and thought processes. They find they can focus longer when under the influence of Sativa strains. When smoked in large quantities, Sativa strains offer a more "psychedelic" high, and may even brighten color and light awareness.

Sativa strains are great if you want to smoke in the morning and still function throughout the day.

What Are the Medical Benefits of Sativa Strains?

When it comes to the medical side of things, there are lots of reasons someone might choose Sativa strains.

Sativa strains are often reported to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. They're great at treating mild to chronic pain, and effectively increase serotonin levels in the brain. Increased serotonin helps regulate your mood, your sleep patterns, and even your appetite.

What Is an Indica Strain?

Indica strains, known in their plant form for being bushier with wider leaves, give the user a "body high".

When you take a form of Cannabis Indica, you might feel your muscles relax. Your eyes might get heavy, and you might experience "couch lock" -- a feeling like you don't want to move or get up off the couch. Comfort and relaxation is increased, and you'll likely feel a lot more tired than before.

You'll typically find that Indica strains contain more CBD than Sativa strains. There are some outliers to this, though.

Not only do Indica strains relax your body, but they relax your mind, too. Indica strains increase your dopamine levels, which is responsible for your brain's pleasure and reward centers. This stimulus tends to give the user a happy, relaxed feeling.

Indica strains are best smoked at night, as they tend to make the user tired and relaxed. They're great for taking off the stress at the end of a long day.

What Are the Medical Benefits of Indica Strains?

Medically speaking, Indica strains come with a lot of great benefits.

Taking an Indica-dominant strain might award the user decreased nausea and pain in general. This includes pain due to injuries, headaches, as well as muscle pain thanks to its relaxing effects. Users can also expect an increase in appetite, otherwise known as "the munchies".

Like Sativa strains, Indica strains have also been found effective for treating depression and anxiety, however in a less social manner. Indica strains also help a lot of people treat insomnia and restlessness. Cannabis Indica not only helps you get to sleep, it also helps you sleep longer and stronger throughout the night.

How Do Cannabinoids and Terpenes Effect Cannabis?

Beyond just Indica and Sativa, the effects of marijuana and marijuana products are also affected by cannabinoids and terpenes.

There are hundreds of possible cannabinoids and terpenes present in any given strain. Each combination of terpenes and cannabinoids gives each strain a unique profile. Terpenes affect the smell, taste, and general medical effects of cannabis, whereas cannabinoids have more of an effect on the high and medical effects only.


The two most dominant cannabinoids in any strain of cannabis are THC and CBD. THC is responsible for the high you feel, while CBD is responsible for the medical effects. However, there are many more cannabinoids present in your cannabis than this.

CBG, for example, is purported to be responsible for pain relief, anti-inflammation, and can help relieve the effects of Huntington's disease. CBN stimulates appetites, has antibiotic properties, and helps sufferers of glaucoma find relief. THCV helps reduce anxiety symptoms, promotes bone cell growth, and helps control blood sugar levels.


There are also hundreds of possible terpenes that can be present in your strain.

Myrcene, for example, gives your bud a citrusy, herbal smell and taste. It's purported to produce "couch-lock", and have a sedating effect. It's also a good anti-inflammatory.

Pinene gives cannabis a more pine-y scent and taste. It's also a good anti-inflammatory and can help relieve symptoms of asthma. Studies have also found it to help the user's memory.

Humulene, responsible for a more earthy smell, contains anti-cancer properties. It reportedly helps inhibit tumor growth. It's also a good appetite suppressant.

While it's hard to know what exact combination is in your chosen strain, the internet is often a good place to go for research. Many people have developed cannabis profiles that detail the terpenes and cannabinoids in the most popular strains. You can also ask your budtender for more information.

Do CBD Oils Come in Sativa & Indica Variants?

Both Sativa and Indica strains contain CBD, with Indica typically being higher in CBD. When it comes to CBD-dominant strains, though (often containing less than 0.3% THC) you also have Indica and Sativa to think about.

CBD-dominant strains also come from the cannabis plant, and every cannabis strain is either Sativa or Indica-dominant. That means everything from your CBD oil to CBD gummies is from either an Indica or Sativa dominant plant. However, it turns out that it doesn't really matter.

CBD is one of many cannabinoids present in all strains of marijuana. When made into an oil or tincture, the CBD is extracted from the plant. CBD is the same across all cannabis plants, meaning it doesn't matter whether extracted from an Indica or Sativa plant -- it will always produce similar effects.

The CBD from a Sativa plant is the same as that from an Indica plant -- you won't feel more tired from one brand of oil than another. You also won't get high.

When it comes to smokable CBD, however, you may notice a difference from Sativa to Indica strains depending on the amount of THC, and the specific terpenes and cannabinoids present. Ask your budtender about the specific effects of CBD-heavy smokables. They'll help find the right strain for you.

Sativa vs Indica: Which Strain Should I Use?

Now that you know the difference between each strain, you may be wondering: Which strain should I be smoking?

The answer to that question comes up to personal preference and the situation at hand. If you're a creative type looking for inspiration and focus, a Sativa strain might be the best. If you're trying to relax after a long day of work, or need help sleeping, an Indica is likely the best option.

Many cannabis users will purchase both an Indica and a Sativa strain, and smoke one or the other depending on the situation. 

The best way to determine which strain works best for you is to experiment and ask for recommendations. Try some different strains dominant in both, start low, and take note of the effects. If you don't like what a certain strain is doing for you at a given time, knock it off the list and try another.

What About Hybrids?

If you're looking for a mixture of the relaxing effects of an Indica strain, with the head-high of a Sativa strain, try out a hybrid.

Hybrid strains contain a considerable (although not even) split between Indica and Sativa. While one type is always dominant, hybrids offer a more balanced high. If you want more Indica effects, find a hybrid higher in Indica, and vice-versa for Sativa effects.

Hybrids are often great for social situations like parties or get-togethers. They award you anxiety relief, happiness, and all-over relaxation without feeling to tired or groggy. As long as your hybrid isn't too high in Indica, you won't have to worry about couch lock.

However, you may have to worry about the munchies with hybrids. Always make sure you have snacks on-hand!

Find the Right Strain for You

As you can see, there's a big difference when it comes to Sativa vs Indica strains. Whether you're an amateur or a veteran cannabis smoker, you want to make sure you're taking the right strain at the right time for the optimal effects. Consider this guide next time you go into the dispensary and you'll be ready to make the most educated choice.

If you're looking for the best CBD products on the market, click here to browse through Leafy Quick's bestsellers list. We have CBD oil, gummies, salve, and more!

Sativa vs indica