By Robert Bergman, ILoveGrowingMarijuana.com
Not all marijuana strains are alike. You have probably already heard of sativa and indica, and even the hybrid strains, but do you know what the differences between them are? They are three distinct categories of specific traits that even the most experienced growers don’t know about.
Sativa and Indica have been on the books since the 1700s, but the hybrid didn’t come until some time later. Sativas come from a temperate climate near the equator, while the Indica likely originated around present-day Afghanistan, specifically near the Hindu Kush area. The climate and weather conditions there are harsh — this is likely why they have a thicker protective coat of resin than the Sativa strains.
Nowadays, less is thought about the origins of the Indica and Sativa, and rather what those strains are well known for. This is why many marijuana growers prefer to grow one or the other.
Science and historical origins
There is actually no official scientific evidence that explains the differences between Indica and Sativa strains of marijuana or even confirms that these differences exist. Nonetheless, they are widely accepted facts among the marijuana growing and using crowd.
There are some historical explanations for the beginnings of the Indica strain, also known as Cannabis Indica. It was first classified by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French biologist, in the late 1700s. He also identified the fact that the plants were intoxicating. It was different from the regular hemp crops grown in Europe at the time, as they did not intoxicate the consumer.
Because of the differences between the European hemp crops (then actually known as Cannabis Sativa), Lamarck named his Indian discovery Cannabis Indica to establish its uniqueness from the European hemp. It was considered a therapeutic remedy of sorts in Europe during the 1800s and commonly used in Western medicine.
Indica plants look short and bushy and have wide leaves and dense branches, making it the best strain for indoor grow rooms. They are known for their healing effects in regards to anxiety, insomnia, pain, relaxation of muscles, headache, and migraine relief, and muscle spasms. The high that comes from smoking Indica weed includes a sedating effect, making the smoker feel relaxed in their entire body. ‘Couch lock’ is the commonly used expression for this sort of high.
Indicas are considered the ‘nighttime’ type of marijuana. There is also a difference in scent between strains. Indica marijuana tends to have a scent that is strongly sweet or sour.
Sativas are tall and thinner with looser branches and long, narrow leaves, making them suitable outdoor plants. They are big. Some can grow as high as 25 feet tall — or more! They work well to combat the symptoms of depression, ADD, fatigue, and mood disorders. The high achieved with smoking Sativas is more uplifting, energizing, and often creative, as it focuses mostly on the cerebral region of the brain.
Sativas are considered the ‘daytime’ type of marijuana. They are well known for being an artist’s favorite type of marijuana to smoke, as it helps the free flowing of ideas for paintings and other type arts. In general, Sativa gives the user an overall feeling of contentedness, well-being, and ease, not to mention the fact that it helps spark and maintain focus.
Hybrids are considered to harbor different combinations of Sativas and Indicas, making them be considered the more balanced version of its two opposing counterparts. Hybrid strains can be anything from 70% Sativa and 30% Indica to half and half to 20% Sativa and 80% Indica. These different combinations are often used to bring out the various effects for a particular medicinal benefit.
In reality, Sativas and Indicas are usually some sort of hybrid with varying levels of each strain. Separating ‘pure’ from ‘hybrid’ is not a realistic way of distinguishing the two. To understand the effects you can expect from a hybrid plant or seed, it is much more important to know the background of your strain of plant rather than just the ratio between Indica and Sativa.
THC and CBD
The differences in the effects of Indica and Sativa strains come from varying levels of THC and CBD. Sativas naturally produce high levels of THC, while Indicas instead produce high levels of CBD. The ratios of THC and CBD are what make the differences come out, but this can vary even within the strains. Sometimes you will find a Sativa high in THC or an Indica high in CBD, due to all the cross-hybridization that has gone on over the generations; therefore, the expected effects do not always appear.