Indica vs Sativa

There’s an endless variety of cannabis strains, each with their own clever name, and a list of potential physical and mental effects, health benefits, and remedies for common illnesses. With so many options out there (Tangerine Dream, Great White Shark, DJ Short Blueberry?) it can be a little overwhelming figuring out where to start. The thing is, almost all of the most popular strains fall into one of two categories: Indica and Sativa. The decision process becomes much easier once you familiarize yourself with these two types of cannabis, and what you can typically expect with either type.

What’s the Difference Between Sativa vs Indica?

There are some commonalities and differences between Indica and Sativa, as both contain different levels of the two major psychoactive ingredients in cannabis: THC and CBD. Indica tends to have higher CBD levels and lower THC levels, so it has more physical effects with less of the mental high associated with cannabis use. A funny way to remember the kind of effects Indica strains have is, “Indica equals In Da Couch.” Indica strains are very relaxing for both the mind and body and are ideal for night time use. They help increase our levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in our motor function that helps regulate the pleasure and reward centres in the brain.

Sativa strains are more suitable for daytime use, as they don’t have the instant sleepy-time effects that Indica strains do. Sativa strains cause a boost of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is involved in our brain’s regulation of sleep, appetite, anxiety, movement, learning, and overall mood. It’s higher in THC but lower in CBD, so while the physical effects are not as pronounced, it will have some more potent mental effects that are thoroughly enjoyable.     

Sativa vs. Indica Effects

Depending on your health conditions or needs, there are unique benefits to either strain that can be used to your advantage. Some effects, like increased hunger, can be expected with both strains, but there are a few effects that are more strongly associated with one of the two types. Here’s an easy reference guide for what you’ll typically experience with either an Indica or Sativa cannabis strain:

Effects of Indica Strains:

–     Decreased nausea: Whether it’s motion sickness, a flu bug, or some bad seafood, Cannabis Indica is a fantastic natural remedy to soothe the stomach and ease the symptoms of nausea. This combined with an increase in hunger can help many people regain their appetite after illness or stress. A lot of chemotherapy patients rely on Indica strains to help with the nausea they experience after treatments.

–    Mild-to-moderate pain relief: Many different aches and pains can be relieved with an Indica strain, including pinched nerves, toothaches, or menstrual cramping.

–    Insomnia Relief: Drifting off to peaceful sleep is a total breeze with the help of an Indica strain. Meditative relaxation, minor pain relief, and a boost of dopamine all combine to create an effective sleep aid that works better than melatonin strips and has way fewer side effects than prescription sleeping pills.  

–    Eased muscle tension and tremors: Physical strain, mental strain, or a combination of both can lead to some pretty tight muscles, and Indica will help get you feeling way more comfortable, and decidedly loosey-goosey. Physical tremors and tics associated with illnesses like Parkinson’s are associated with the body’s dopaminergic system, and the dopamine boost that comes along with Indica has had tremendous success in temporarily easing these symptoms.

Effects of Sativa Strains:

–    Depression relief: Levels of serotonin play a pivotal role in a person’s mood and mental outlook. In fact, many prescription anti-depressants are formulated to increase serotonin, or inhibit its reuptake in the brain. Cannabis Sativa is a natural instant happy-booster, so many folks who suffer from depression are able to regain motivation and get back to their regular selves with the help of this powerful strain.

–    Anxiety and Stress relief: Busy lives and hectic schedules can make a person’s mind spin, and while experiencing a little bit of stress day-to-day is normal, when it becomes overwhelming it can have more serious impacts on your physical and mental health. Put your mind at ease with a Sativa strain and get back to enjoying the things you love.

–    Chronic pain relief: Some of the available long-term prescriptions for chronic ailments can have some nasty side effects, but Sativa strains can alleviate symptoms without all those extra downsides. Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, spinal injuries, and sciatica are just a few of the many conditions that can be treated with Cannabis Sativa.   

–    Sharpened focus and heightened creativity: Many consumers of Sativa strains say they help enhance imagination and innovation without decreasing energy or motivation, so it’s a better choice if you’ve got a creative project ahead of you.

Knowing the difference between the two main types of cannabis will help you determine what kind is best for you. That being said, there are loads of hybrid varieties out there as well, so if you’re looking for something with a wide range of benefits, you can also try out some Sativa/Indica crossbreeds. When in doubt, sometimes a little trial-and-error is the best method of finding your own personal favourite.


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