Indica vs. Sativa, an Age Old Question

by Raegan Castillo-Fontana on October 01, 2019

We hear the terms “indica” and “sativa” all the time to describe our favorite buds, and we know, for the most part, the difference. Over the years, we’ve all come to have our favorites and ones we prefer over others, different strains for different events, depending on our mood, what we’re doing and who we’re hanging out with. But what’s the difference, really? 


Though there is a huge variety of cannabis available these days, nearly all of them, and I’m talking 99%, are ultimately derived from Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. Chemically, their compositions differ in cannabinoid content (amount of THC and CBD) and photochemical compounds like terpenes and flavonoids. Terpenes are the aromatic oils that give each flower its distinct smell and taste. Flavonoids determine what color the flower is. The different combinations of these elements are what make them either indica or sativa, or in combination, a hybrid. 


When looking at the plants themselves, you can actually see the differences between the sativa and indica plants. Sativa dominant strains, higher in THC content, tend to be tall and thin, with narrow leaves and are lighter in color. Indica dominant strains are typically short and dense with wide, fat leaves and grown to be a much darker green. With hybrids, it just depends on the individual composition of the THC, CBD and other cannabinoids inherited from its lineage.


As I’m sure you know, indica and sativa subspecies have different medicinal properties, sativa strains producing more of a euphoric, or head high, lifting one's mood and therapeutically relieve stress. Indica strains relax muscles, producing more of a body high, and work as general analgesics that tend to help one sleep. An indica strain would work well for a cancer patient wanting to relieve physical pain caused by chemotherapy, while a sativa strain would be beneficial to a person dealing with depression by enhancing the individual’s mood. It really just depends on what ails you. 


There are hundreds if not thousands of varieties of strains of indica and sativa, giving users a ridiculously large amount of options. So which is right for you? Cannabis indica focuses on your physical pains. It helps your muscles relax and can be a great sleep aid. If you feel nauseous and can’t eat, a sativa will fix that right up. My husband broke his back some years ago and tells me all the time he doesn’t know how he could possibly function without it. It took 3 years, rehabilitation, and a doctor that thought it possible for him to wean completely off of the opioids his body was so used to. Cannabis indica literally saved his life after that. He tells me that he feels a deep sense of relaxation in his body when he uses a sativa, and that no other drug, either prescribed or over the counter, has ever helped his physical pains like it. 


I have a very dear friend that has struggled with anxiety and depression for many years, resulting in an eating disorder. Since she was a teenager, general practitioners have misdiagnosed her time and time again, prescribing her a plethora of different antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. She’s told me for years about the awful side effects she’s experienced and that they made her life worse than it was without the medication! When she first used cannabis, she was a complete skeptic. But after she started started using cannabis sativa, and found the form she liked (edibles), she was so excited to tell me that she was no longer on any kind of pharmaceutical! Her depression seemed to fade, as she began being able to happily focus on life and what was in front of her. She was soon able to control her depression with business and purpose, which in turn removed anxiety completely. Sure, everyone gets down now and again, but she now realizes she can take control of her life with help from a God-given plant that grows from the earth with no man-made chemicals whatsoever. 


It is a true gift that a plant straight from the earth has helped so many. All the while, huge pharma companies are pumping lab created chemicals into the market, money into the pockets of politicians and lobbyists, and pills and serums into sick Americans. You tell me, does that picture look right?

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