Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid | What is the Difference?


If you know about cannabis sativa, you have probably heard these terms before. But do you know what’s the difference between indica vs sativa?

Cannabis is divided into two major classes: Indica and Sativa. There are scientific disparities between them and the third type of cannabis, hybrid, a blend of these two. The blend can be in various ratios, based on what you want to achieve.

There are many differences between the anatomy of Indica and Sativa. For instance, their shape, their growth rate, how long they take to flower, etc. But the major difference is based on what chemicals they produce and how these chemicals affect the consumers of these cannabis strains. Hence, each kind has different benefits.

Still confused? Don’t worry – we will talk about Indica vs Sativa in detail. Although, keep in mind, everybody reacts differently to cannabis. If you feel differently to what is mentioned in the article below, do not panic.

It is simply because Cannabis’ effects are greatly affected by your health history, weight, height, surroundings, your consumption frequency, plant’s origin, and several other factors.

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What Are We Talking About?

Indica vs Sativa is a personal choice. Both produce optimal, but opposite results in specific situations. You can use cannabis for medical or fun reasons. But if you don’t know which to use when? We might have a problem.

Hence, it is important to understand the difference so you can opt for the right one.

The good thing is, understanding cannabis is really easy. You simply divide it into two species: ‘Indica’ and ‘Sativa’. When you mix the two, the blend is called ‘hybrid’.

Let’s explore more about each type in this article.

Cannabis Indica (CI):

Cannabis Indica contains a higher content of CBD. This compound is known for its therapeutic behavior. It works side by side with the human ECS and induces calming effects.

Hence, Indica strains are ideal for relaxing body tension and relieving anxiety. Best use of Indica strains is after work or at the end of the day. Patients with conditions like insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain, and arthritis, can greatly benefit from this type.

CI strains have a variety of terpene profiles, including sweet, tropical, pine, pungent, earthy, skunk, hash, etc. Opposite to the effects of Sativa, Indica produces calm and relaxing effects. 

Cannabis Indica vs sativa

Strains of CI can also help people with serious diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, and more.

Cannabis Sativa (CS):

Cannabis Sativa has a higher content of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This compound is majorly known for inducing mind high effects. They have an extremely pungent smell. Their unique aroma ranges from sweet, tropical notes to an earthy aroma, with diesel undertones. 

Sweet, fruity Sativa strains include popular strains such as Sour Joker and Island Sweet Skunk. However, strains like Diesel smell earthy with undertones of diesel (probably the reason why it is named Diesel). These strains provide similar effects despite the difference in their terpene profiles, i.e. they all produce an uplifting effect.

Cannabis Sativa

CS can create an energetic cerebral euphoria. Users feel an energizing and uplifting head high effect. This is exactly why Sativa strains are known for enhancing creativity. Probably the reason why it is a popular choice amongst artists, painters, musicians and philosophers. 

Patients who like to stay energized and uplifted during the day are often suggested to take CS strains. This makes them ready to take on the day.

Cannabis Hybrid (CH):

Next come Hybrid, the blend of the above mentioned natural cannabis types. You can break hybrid strains into three basic classes:

  • Sativa dominant Hybrids
  • Even Hybrids
  • Indica dominant Hybrids

The first class will give you a high head effect on body relaxation. Best for people looking for mental and physical relief. Known strains include Glass Slipper, Lemon Skunk, and Super Lemon Haze.

Sativa dominant Hybrids

The second class will give you a balanced euphoria of head and body relaxation. It has 50% Sativa and 50% Indica. Known strains include Super Silver Haze, Pineapple Express, and Blueberry Headband.

The third class will give you a full-body pain relief along with relaxing cerebral effects. Best recommended for people with depression and insomnia.

Patients suffering from any kind of autoimmune disease are advised to use this type. You can use it in the afternoon or at night for optimal results. Known strains include Dark Blue Dream, Kosher Tangie, and Brownie Scout.

Cannabis Ruderalis (CR):

Another lesser-known type of Cannabis is Cannabis Ruderalis. It is often referred to as a tentative species of Cannabis since Botanists are still unsure about its status. CR looks a lot like CI in shape and is very short in height even when fully grown.

Cannabis Ruderalis

CR typically produces very few branches and carry wide, flat-bladed leaves. They have high CBD and low THC count, which is why they are preferred when medicinal cannabis is required.

Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid

Not only these species of cannabis affect differently, but they also look different. To an inexperienced eye, they all will look the same. But an experienced gardener can recognize the species by just having a look.

These species exhibit several distinct features. Look closely, and you will find the difference.

Cannabis Sativa (CS):

Starting with the Sativa plants, they come from humid regions like Colombia, Southeast Asia and Mexico. They grow taller and thinner than Indica plants. Their leaves are slender and narrow.

CS has a lighter shade of green. They take longer to grow, need more light and mature slowly. Medicine made from CS strains contains more THC and less CBD count.

Cannabis Indica (CI):

Opposite to Sativa, CI plants grow in dry areas like the Middle East and Afghanistan. Hence, they have a shorter height. But they are bushy and have wide leaves. They are dark green and have a higher growth rate. Their yield is typically better than Sativa. Medicines made by CI exhibit lower THC and higher CBD counts.

Cannabis Hybrid (CH):

We know that CH is a blend of both species. The growth and flowering time of CH depend on their parent species with the higher part. It varies from plant to plant. Generally, they yield better, but mostly, the characteristics lean towards one side of the spectrum.

Indica vs Sativa Buds

It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between CI and CS since most strains are hybrid nowadays. But there are still a few distinctions. If you can see them, they can direct you in the right direction in making an educated guess.

Indica vs Sativa Buds

Sativa Buds:

If you look at a bag and wonder if you were given more than what you paid for, you have CS in your hand. CS buds are thin and less dense. They look tall, rectangular, fragile and fluffy. Due to less density, they often look unappealing to the consumers. One of the major reasons why CH are so much in business.

Indica Buds:

Consumers are often attracted more towards Indica because of its denser and heavier buds. They form dense clusters closer to the nodes. This creates the classic crunchy look. The look of CI bud is aesthetic. Hence, regardless of how high they want, people opt for CI buds because they look better.

This is probably one of the major reasons why you will not find pure CS plants very common. They also require more specific conditions to grow. So, you will generally find Indica as dominant weed or a hybrid with some Indica genetics.

This does not make the CS inferior. It is just the appearance that makes it look less attractive or effective.

Indica vs Sativa Effects

Even though they both come from the same plant, CI and CS produce opposite effects on the consumer. They also affect the different parts of the human body.

CI effects in a more centred manner as it produces a calm and relaxing effect on the body. A single strain of CI can enhance physical sensations like touch, taste and sound. While it can be pain-relieving in small doses, it can be hypnotic in large ones.

On the other hand, CS strains are known for their head-high effect. These effects are opposite to what CI will do. Therefore, despite their lesser weight and lengthy flowering duration, CS strains are still in business.

This high characterizes as energetic, cerebral, creative, hysterical and sometimes hallucinogenic. However, the effect isn’t long term.

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Indica vs Sativa Highs

With Cannabis under the spotlight, you must have heard the words ‘high’ and ‘stoned’ more than often. Although they are used interchangeably, they are two completely different feelings as described by the consumers of medical marijuana. One of them is associated with the mind while the other affects the body.

But how do they differ? Is it possible to choose one over the other? In this section, we will decipher through the types of high, and we will find out which strain can cause which kind of high.

The two major kinds of high are:

  1. Head High
  2. Body High

What is ‘Head High’?

The simplest way to define a head high is experiencing a sudden uplift in physical and emotional energy as soon as you finish a joint. As the name suggests, this feeling concentrates on the mind and can also help in increasing creativity.

The head high depends largely on the chemical concentration of the plant, how you are consuming the drug and your history of smoking. If you smoke THC-high weed, you are most likely to get head high.

Even though the effects happen faster, they will not last long. High-Grade weed can keep the user high for about three to four hours. The effects can range from giggly and creative to anxious and paranoid. It depends on the strain and the consumer body reaction to it.

In addition to drastic behavioral change, other effects include low lids, red eyes and the notorious cottonmouth.

What is ‘Body High’?

The simplest difference between head high and body high is that the former is all about being ‘up’, while the latter is about being ‘low’.

As we associate the head high with uplifted behavior, body high or being stoned is associated with dopey, sleepy, heavy and drowsy feelings. When you are head high, everything will move fast and rapidly. On the other hand, when you are stoned, everything will move in slow motion.

CBD-enriched weed creates this effect on the users where they feel calm and relieved. It also makes the user feel sleepy. Therefore, it is a great remedy for patients of insomnia.

Another difference between mind and body high is that the latter takes longer to kick in, but when it does, it stays for a long time.

Cannabis Sativa High Effects

CS Plants induce head high effects. They kick in very fast, but last for a maximum of three to four hours and have a higher content of THC in comparison to CBD. CS weed increases focus, creativity and productivity using its stimulating, uplifting and accelerating nature.

Hence, doctors recommend Cannabis Sativa to patients suffering from depression, ADHD, and similar healthe conditions.

Cannabis Indica High Effects

Strains of CI weed, on the other hand, produces sedative and relaxing effects. One of the strongest CI strains is even known to cause a condition called ‘the couch lock’ in which a person feels heavily sedated and wants to lie down until the effect is gone.

Therefore, doctors often recommend these strains to patients suffering from anxiety, muscle spasms, chronic pain, and similar diseases.


Anxiety is not only one of the most common conditions that people are suffering from nowadays, but it is also one of the most complicated ones. It is a dynamic condition which can occur due to many different reasons.

Amidst all the chaos that anxiety caused, cannabis came forward as a promising solution. Researchers found out that cannabis can relieve anxiety if the patient takes the right doses, but to their surprise, cannabis can also make the anxiety worse in some cases.

With a little more digging, they discovered that the cannabinoid and terpene content of any cannabis plant could greatly affect its treatment of anxiety. In some cases, lower doses help to make it better, but in large doses, it can sometimes make the symptoms worse.

Therefore, before deciding on the effects of a specific strain, it is always better to look at its cannabinoid and terpene content than choosing one based on its kind (CI, CS or CH).

Cannabinoids and Terpene:

The major contents of the cannabis plant include cannabinoids and terpene. We will look at each of them in detail.


There are more than 100 cannabinoid compounds present in the weed plant, but the most abundant ones are as follows:

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): THC occurs in abundance in most cannabis plants, and it is the major reason behind the plant’s psychoactive behavior. While in small amounts, it can increase creativity, enhance mood and energy, large doses can cause adverse effects such as anxiety and paranoia. Cannabis products containing higher THC content can result in these negative side effects.

Different Cannabinoids in indica vs sativa

Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD is the secondary cannabinoid in cannabis, and it has lately become the centre of attraction due to its extended medical effects. CBD serves as the primary reason for Cannabis’ therapeutic efficacy because it does not cause any ‘head high’ effects and is highly effective anti-pain compound. This is what many people use in cannabis oil.

CBD offers none to extremely mild side effects, which is why the pharmaceutical industry considers it a competitive drug for pediatric patients as well as those suffering from chronic diseases.


Terpenes are extremely unstable compounds that give Cannabis its aroma and taste. They also interact with the ECS and produce beneficial effects.

Some of the abundantly occurring terpenes in weed plants include:

  • Myrcene: It works as an anti-inflammation, palliatives and sedative agent.
  • Pinene: Pinene identifies as a bronchodilator and an anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Linalool: While it works best as an anxiolytic effect, it is also an anti-cancer, antioxidant and antibiotic drug.
  • Caryophyllene: It is the most abundant terpene in the cannabis plant. It works as an anti-malarial, a gastric cryoprotective and an anti-inflammatory agent.

This brings us to a conclusion that instead of deciding for an anti-anxiety cannabis strain based on its type, i.e. Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid, choose the one with high CBD count and Linalool content.

Medical Efficacy

Researchers have performed various studies on how the weed strains including CI, CS and CH, affect the different medical conditions. Here are some results from the survey of online cannabis consumers:

  • Survey respondents stated that when it comes to specific medical conditions such as seizures, spasticity, non-migraine headaches, joint pain, neuropathy and glaucoma, CI strains help greatly in their treatment.
  • When it comes to CS, they only found it helpful in weight loss.
  • However, for treating migraines, cancer, arthritis, trauma, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, orthopedic problems and other chronic pain conditions, survey respondents expressed no major difference in CS and CI plants.
  • Concerning symptoms, if you want help with pain management, sleep and sedation, and you are looking for a good body high, survey respondents expressed a preference for CI.
  • If you are looking for an energizing effect or energy enhancement, survey respondents recommended CS strains.  
Cannabis Medical Efficacy

Using the results of this survey and many other studies, researchers concluded that Indica strains were recommended overall for treating medical conditions; whereas, Sativa strains were preferred mostly for recreational use.

“Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid” Conclusion: 

We hope that you can now differentiate distinctly between the types of cannabis. Starting with the CI, we found out that it has shorter flowering time and high yields. It has sedating and relaxing effects. Indica strains can help greatly in relieving anxiety, pain, muscle spasm and insomnia. Morphologically, it is short, bushy and has wide leaves.

On the other hand, traits of CS plants include longer flowering time and low yields. It has uplifting, creative and cerebral high effects. Sativa strains can help in relieving depression, fatigue, ADHD and mood disorders. Morphologically, it is tall, thin and has slender leaves.

Traits of CH are a mix of both. They have variable flowering time, and most of them are high-yielding. Their effects are also a blend of CS and CI. Hybrids’ symptom relief largely depends on its parents. Morphologically, they have a wide range of growth patterns.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some frequently asked questions about weed strains you must go through:

What are the differences Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid?

Indica and Sativa are two basic types of Cannabis, each having a different chemical composition. They have opposite effects and work optimally in specific circumstances. CI strains are known to produce a sedative effect in the body while CS induces a cerebral high.

To get a bit of both, scientist crossbred the two species and invented the Hybrid strains. There are many different hybrid strains, each having a different concentration of Indica and Sativa. The effects of CH strains vary according to their parents’ concentrations.

Indica vs Sativa: Which one is better?

It is not possible to classify one better than the other, without finding out the reason why you need it. If you want to buy cannabis for recreational purposes, you should probably opt for the one with high-THC contents. In the case of Indica vs Sativa, Sativa is the one with higher THC content.

But if you want to try cannabis for medicinal reasons, always consult your physician before deciding it by yourself. Although, in Indica vs Sativa, Indica is the one with therapeutic benefits and has shown great results in treating pain and anxiety.

Hybrid is a crossbreed of Indica and Sativa. It often has the goods of both. Doctors mostly recommend their patients hybrid strains, which are best for their condition.

Why are Sativa and Indica highs different?

The highs are different because of their different chemical composition.

Although CS and CI belong to the same plant family, they have different counts of THC and CBD.

THC induces the high and stimulating effects, whereas CBD is responsible for all the calming and soothing effects. Strains which exhibit more THC, i.e. Sativa strains, induce the cerebral high effect, whereas strains with high CBD content, i.e. Indica strains, induce a sedative effect in the body.

How can you tell the difference: Indica vs Sativa?

CI plants grow in rough weather conditions and dry areas such as the Middle East. They are dark green and are in the form of clusters. CI buds look denser and are heavier. They have a pungent smell that can range from fruity and tropical to earthy with undertones of diesel.

CS, on the other hand, come from humid regions such as Colombia, Southeast Asia and Mexico. They look tall, thin and take comparatively longer time to grow and mature. Their buds are light green in color and light in weight. They have long and slender leaves.

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