Indica vs. Sativa: Your Complete Guide

Are you looking for indica or sativa today? It’s a question that comes up almost as often as Can I see your I.D.? …At least for those of us who often use delivery services. While the latter has a pretty cut-and dry resolution, the first requires a little more consideration.

For those who don't quite know their way around a cannabis plant, indica and sativa represent two distinct strains or "subspecies" of marijuana. While both help users achieve the psychoactive effects many are after, the differences between them are vast. Below, we'll break things down so that you can resolve the indica vs. sativa question once and for all.

Indica vs. Sativa: What's the Difference?

In short, "cannabis indica" has much more of a reputation for helping users relax and relieving symptoms associated with insomnia, anxiety, and even chronic pain. These properties have proven so effective, the strain has actually garnered the nickname in-da-couch.

Popular sativa strains tend to be more uplifting, and are often used by individuals trying to achieve a level of creativity, extroversion, or focus. This strain is more often used for day-time activities and typically associated with the "head-high" many users are after.

Indica Plants vs. Sativa Plants

The differences between these two cannabis strains don't just manifest in the effects they have on users—there are lots of notable differences between the physical plants themselves. We'll dive further into the specifics below.


If you're looking at something that seems somewhat short and bushy in appearance, chances are it's an indica plant. These grows typically contain wider leaves and shorter fingers, or growths. They typically grow faster than sativa varieties and have a shorter flowering time, which allows farmers to produce higher yields. These cannabis plants also have an extremely high resin production, which is why they are often used for making edibles.

Meanwhile, "cannabis sativa" is taller and lankier in appearance. Both their leaves and fingers are narrow, and long. Because this plant is more typically associated with a high THC content, lending itself to more uplifting effects, it's more commonly used for vapes.


The indica plant grows well in cooler, high-altitude environments and originates in the Hindu Kush mountain range, spanning from Afghanistan to Pakistan. While it can do extremely well in regions with shorting growing seasons, it can also be grown indoors when climate conditions are less favorable.

Sativa plants prefer much more warmth. These guys live in hot, humid environments and are most often found in equatorial regions such as Southeast Asia, Central America, and Africa. That said, these plants can also grow well inside with the proper lighting and temperature control technologies.


You can find the specific grow requirements for both indica and sativa plants listed below:

Indica Plants:

  • Requires less light than sativa plants

  • Can tolerate higher humidity levels 

  • Prefer cooler temperatures 

  • Can grow in smaller spaces due to their bushy and compact structure

Sativa Plants:

  • Requires more light and nutrients to support vigorous growth and high THC content

  • Require more space to grow due to their larger structure

  • Can tolerate lower humidity levels 

  • More sensitive to training techniques; easily stressed

Grow Times

Indica plants generally have a shorter flowering period than sativa plants, which means they can be harvested sooner. Indica plants typically take between 7-9 weeks to flower, while sativa plants can take between 10-16 weeks to flower.

Are There Any Negative Effects Associated With Indica vs. Sativa Strains?

While marijuana affects everyone differently and individual experiences will vary, we've listed some of the potential negative effects below. Before diving into the list, it is important to remember that effects are always influenced by the individual's tolerance, the dosage, method of consumption, and the quality and potency of the product. Always start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed while monitoring the effects.

Indica Strains:

  • May cause drowsiness or sedation, which is never ideal for users who need to be alert and focused.

  • May cause lethargy or a lack of motivation, which can interfere with productivity or daily activities.

  • May lead to overeating or weight gain, especially if consumed in large amounts or combined with other substances.

Sativa Strains:

  • May increase feelings of anxiety or paranoia, especially in users who are prone to these conditions.

  • May cause racing thoughts or heightened sensitivity to stimuli, which can be overwhelming for some users.

  • May lead to headaches or migraines, especially if consumed in high amounts or in combination with other substances.

So, What's a Hybrid Strain?

A hybrid strain of marijuana is a type of cannabis is just what it sounds like: a strain that is created by crossing two or more varieties of cannabis, typically one indica-dominant and one sativa-dominant. Popular hybrid strains contain a balanced combination of desirable effects, such as a relaxing body high and a stimulating head high.

Hybrids can be categorized into three main types based on their dominant effects:

  • Indica-dominant hybrid strains: These strains typically produce a relaxing, sedative effect, with some degree of mental stimulation. They may be useful for relieving stress, anxiety, and pain, and are often preferred by users who want a mellow, calming experience.

  • Sativa-dominant hybrid strains: This kind of cannabis strain typically produces a more energetic, uplifting effect, with some degree of physical relaxation. They may be useful for enhancing creativity, focus, and sociability, and are often preferred by users who want to feel energized and motivated.

  • Balanced hybrid strains: These strains have a roughly equal balance of both indica and sativa effects, and are intended to provide a well-rounded experience that combines the best of both worlds.

Things to Consider: Cannabis Terpenes

If you haven't heard of the term before, you're not alone. In short, terpenes are chemical compounds that are found in many plants, including cannabis, and are responsible for giving each strain its unique aroma and flavor profile. While the effects of cannabis are largely attributed to its cannabinoid content, such as THC and CBD, terpenes also play a role in how cannabis affects the body and mind.

They do this by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system and modulating the effects of cannabinoids. Some terpenes may enhance or amplify certain effects, while others may counteract or balance them out.

Below, you'll find a list of terpenes commonly found in popular indica and sativa strains, and how they impact their effects:

Indica Strains:

  • Myrcene: Known for its sedative and relaxing effects, and is commonly found in indica strains. It can enhance the “body high” and promote feelings of calmness and relaxation.

  • Linalool: Identified by a floral aroma and known for its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects. It is known for its sedative effects and ability to promote relaxation and sleep.

  • Beta-caryophyllene: Contains a spicy, peppery aroma and is known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. It's often celebrated for pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.

Sativa Strains:

  • Limonene: This terpene has a citrusy aroma and is known for its energizing and mood-enhancing effects. It may enhance the uplifting effects of THC and promote feelings of happiness and well-being.

  • Pinene: This terpene has a piney aroma and is known for its cognitive-enhancing and bronchodilatory effects. It can help improve mental clarity and focus, and even respiratory function.

  • Terpinolene: This terpene has a floral aroma and is known for its sedative and relaxing effects. It is known for its calming effects, and can even help promote sleep.

Overall, terpenes can play an important role in shaping the effects of cannabis and may contribute to the differences between indica and sativa strains. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these effects and how different combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids may interact to produce specific effects.

Medical Uses

Indica and sativa strains of cannabis have different chemical compositions and effects on the body, which can make them more suitable for certain medical conditions. Here are some of the medical uses of each type of plant:


  • Pain relief: Indica strains are often used to alleviate chronic pain, including headaches, migraines, and back pain.

  • Insomnia: Indica strains are known for their sedative effects and can be helpful for medical marijuana patients who struggle with sleep.

  • Anxiety and stress: Indica strains may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress, and promote relaxation.

  • Muscle spasms: Because indica strains can help relieve muscle spasms and tension, they can be especially useful for individuals with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries.


  • Depression: Sativa strains may be helpful for individuals with depression, as they can promote feelings of happiness and euphoria.

  • Fatigue and low energy: Sativa strains are often used to combat fatigue and promote energy and focus.

  • Nausea and appetite stimulation: Sativa strains can help stimulate appetite and reduce nausea, making them useful for individuals undergoing chemotherapy or other medical treatments.

  • ADHD and other cognitive disorders: Sativa strains may help improve focus, attention, and cognitive performance, making them useful for individuals with ADHD or other cognitive disorders.

It's important to note that the effects of cannabis can vary depending on the individual and the specific strain used. We should also be clear that while cannabis may be helpful for some medical conditions, it is not a cure-all and may not be appropriate for everyone. If you are considering using cannabis for medical purposes, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider who can help you create an appropriate treatment plan.

How to Choose the Right Strain for You

Choosing the right strain of marijuana is a personal decision, and it's important to consider your individual needs before diving in. Here are a few tips to help you decide between indica and sativa strains:

  1. Consider your desired effects: Think about what effects you are hoping to achieve. If you're looking for relaxation and pain relief, an indica strain may be a good choice. If you're looking for a more energetic and creative experience, a sativa strain may be more suitable.

  2. Think about your tolerance and experience: If you're new to using marijuana, it may be best to start with a strain that has a lower THC content and a more balanced CBD to THC ratio. Indica strains tend to have higher CBD levels, which can help mitigate some of the negative effects of THC, such as anxiety or paranoia. Sativa strains tend to have higher THC levels, which will be more intense for new users.

  3. Experiment with different strains: The effects of marijuana can vary widely from person to person, and even from one strain to another. If you can, try out different strains to see what works best for you. Keep tabs on the effects of each strain and how it makes you feel.

  4. Talk to a professional: If you still can't decide which strain to choose, try talking to a healthcare provider or a delivery service professional. They can offer valuable advice regarding your individual needs and preferences.

In Conclusion

If it hasn't already been made clear, let it say it once more: Indica and sativa strains of cannabis have distinct differences in their physical characteristics, chemical composition, and effects on the body.

Indica strains are known for their sedative and relaxing effects, while sativa strains are known for their energizing and uplifting effects. That said, the exact effects of each strain hinges on a variety of factors, including the individual's biology and method of consumption.

Offering a vast selection of high-quality Indica, Sativa, and hybrid strains, our convenient LA cannabis delivery service drops off your preferred products safely to your door. Amuse also distinguishes the difference between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid in product descriptions so you can make educated decisions. Shop now and find the perfect strain for your preferences.

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