Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: What’s in a Cannabis Strain?

It’s one of the most common questions among new cannabis consumers: Indica vs sativa vs hybrid—what do these terms mean and what’s the difference among them? Quite a bit, actually. The indica and sativa genetic groups have, historically, represented significant differences amongst the plants in this family. We’ll cover some of these major differences, including their effects, uses and more. Let’s begin!

Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: Traits and Genetics

How can you differentiate between indica vs sativa vs hybrid plants? With modern breeding techniques the line between indica and sativa is being blurred, and most cannabis available today is in fact some form of hybrid.

Historically, though, indica and sativa plants demonstrated unique physical traits and chemical characteristics. For example, indica plants grow short, stocky, and bushy. They also have big leaves with thick individual fingers. Indica strains grew wild in Central Asia, around the Hindu Kush mountain range. Nearly every “Kush” strain is an indica, along with other popular genetics like Afghani.

In contrast, sativas grow very differently. They’re sort of like cannabis grapevines. Each nug develops small, hard, and dense, with plenty of stem space between them. They like to grow tall, which makes them difficult for indoor cultivators. You can find sativas on most continents from South Africa to Thailand and even in the Americas. Many “Haze” variants are members of this group.

Finally, hybrids are almost an entirely man made phenomenon. They’re the result of crossbreeding indica and sativa strains together. They can have any assortment of physical features, usually an amalgamation of their indica and sativa lineage. Not all hybrids are the same, either. Some may be indica- or sativa-dominant, expressing more of a specific genetic line.

Indica vs Sativa: Effects and Uses

Along with their physical differences, the biggest contrast between pure indicas and pure sativas are their effects. Both have reputations for bestowing completely different feelings upon those who use them. What’s more, medical cannabis patients describe them as having different possible benefits, too. We’ll cover both here.

Indica vs Sativa: Experience

One of the biggest differences you’ll hear people talk about when it comes to indicas and sativas is how they make you feel. Typically, indicas have a reputation for being relaxing, sedating, and low-key. They’re perfect for taking the edge off after a long, stressful day, or as a nightcap before bed. In contrast, sativas are more euphoric, uplifting, and cerebral. They may also help inspire creativity or sociability. That makes them ideal for daytime consumption, for sharing with friends of loved ones, or for those looking to unlock creativity.

Hybrids exist somewhere in between. They may have traits of both indicas and sativas, say for example a hybrid strain may be both relaxing while also sparking creativity. Or, they may have more moderate, balanced effects as their genetic backgrounds level each other out. Out of all the genetic subtypes of cannabis, hybrids tend to have the most diverse effects.

Sativa vs Indica: Edibles

The type of strain or the chemical profile used in edibles can impact their effects, too. If an edible is labeled “sativa” or “indica,” you may experience effects similar to a sativa or indica strain. With that said, edibles often produce a markedly different experience than inhaled cannabis. When its digested THC is metabolized into 11-hydroxy-THC, which for some produces a more potent experience than smoking. Edibles also last much longer, sometimes for upwards of 8 hours (or more depending on your physiology and metabolism).

Indicas vs Sativas: For Pain, Anxiety and Other Medical Uses

Medical patients have reported using sativas and indicas for different reasons. Since they’re low-key and sedating, indicas have a reputation for being able to help reduce stress and anxiety. They may also be particularly effective at alleviating chronic pain and aiding with sleep troubles. In contrast, sativas can help uplift mood and increase energy.

Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: Wrapping Up

Ready to experience the differences between indica, sativa and hybrid strains for yourself? At UpTop, we’re here to help. Stop by the closest UpTop dispensary near you to discover the strains we have available and to discuss what genetics may be best for your needs. We look forward to serving you!