Cannabis strains fall into three basic categories: indicas, sativas, and hybrids. Both the effects and the plants themselves are distinctly different; tall, lanky sativas tend to produce uplifting effects, while short, bushy indicas are more sedating. Hybrid strains may be higher in indica or higher in sativa, and tend to look like the dominant parent.
Indica and sativa strain effects
Cannabis users who smoke during the day often prefer sativas for their energizing properties, while those who prefer to smoke at night find the relaxing effect of indicas more beneficial. Sativa strains tend to be headier and more cerebral, while indicas often produce a full-body high colloquially referred to as “couch lock.”
Hybrid and CBD strains
Growers produce hybrid strains by cross-pollinating indica plants with sativas. The effects of hybrid strains vary widely, depending on the dominant strain. Both sativas and indicas contain THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol), which produces the “high.” Most plants contain no detectable level of CBD (cannabidiol), which can help relieve pain without the psychoactive effects, but high-CBD strains do exist. There are a limited number of CBD strains available, due to the relatively recent discovery of this cannabinoid’s medical benefits.
Growing indica and sativa strains
Indica plants mature faster and produce more buds than sativas, which makes them a popular choice for growers who want a higher yield in less time. Sativa plants require more light than indicas, making them a better choice for outdoor gardens. Sativas take longer to grow, but because they’re popular, growers look to hybrids to provide a combination of effects with a shorter grow cycle.
What symptoms do indicas and sativas treat?
Sativas and indicas predominantly affect different neurotransmitters, with sativas having a greater effect on serotonin, and indicas having a greater effect on dopamine. Medical marijuana patients who use cannabis to treat depression often report greater success with energizing, uplifting sativas, while those who use it to treat anxiety find relaxing, euphoria-inducing indicas more beneficial.
Terpene effects from indicas and sativas
People should be aware, however, that all sativas and all indicas are not created equal. The amount and variety of terpenes and cannabinoids in a plant influence its effects; for example, cannabis users might find that one sativa strain makes them feel social, while another makes them feel paranoid. Terpenes, essential oils that give strains differing flavors and smells, combine with cannabinoids to produce a strain’s unique effects.