Cannabis is a single species of flowering plant, though it has two primary varieties within that species, Indica and Sativa, whose effects differ.Indica strains tend to provide sedative or relaxing effects and are often used therapeutically to treat chronic pain, insomnia, muscle spasm, and anxiety. The genetics of indica strains often include a higher concentration of CBD than sativa strains, which contributes to its sedating effects as well as having less intense psychoactive effects. Some common indica cannabis strains include Northern Lights, Afghani, Blueberry, and Chemo.

Sativa strains come with more stimulating effects and are popular to use medically as an anti-depressant, for migraines, for chronic pain, for nausea, and to stimulate appetite. Sativas typically have a higher concentration of THC than indica strains, causing more intense psychoactive effects, increased alertness and energy in the mind, and feelings of optimism. The higher THC-concentration is also connected to increased anxiety in some cases. Common sativa strains include Sour Diesel, Durban Poison, Jack Herer, and Super Lemon Haze.

Cannabis with hybrid genetics contain both indica and sativa through crossbreeding. Their effects vary depending on the cross. Beginning with an indica strain and adding sativa will typically increase mental clarity while reducing the sedative effects. Beginning with a sativa strain and adding indica can greatly lower or even get rid of the anxiety that can come with sativa alone. Popular hybrids include White Widow, Blue Dream, OG Kush, and Pineapple Express.

To differentiate between hybrids, they are usually classified by which type of cannabis is dominant, indica or sativa. However, you’ll get the most information about any strain by looking at its cannabinoid profile and projected effects based on both genetics and user reviews.

Pure Sativa

Originating in tropical parts of the world like Thailand, Mexico, and South America, pure sativa plants are characteristically harder to grow. That being said, despite coming from warmer climates, they also will grow well in colder temperatures if given enough time.

Sativa plants are often tall, reaching up to 20 feet in height, though they are not bushy like indicas are. Sativa leaves are lighter green and slim and pointy in size. As a sativa plant ages, it can begin to turn red, purplish, or even yellow or gold. Their height makes them better for growing outdoors instead of indoors.

Sativa strains more commonly create uplifting and energetic effects, particularly on the mind. As such, they are recommended for people with mood disorders, ADD, or fatigue. Note that because of their more intense psychoactive nature, sativas can also create feelings of anxiety or paranoia.

Pure Indica

Indica plants originated in hot and dry areas of the world, such as Afghanistan, Morocco, Kashmir, and Tibet. They are noticeably green and dense plants with broad and rounded leaves, though some indicas are dark bluish-green or even purple. Their buds are dense, so they carry some weight. This may seem counterintuitive because of the fact that their growing season is actually not as long as sativa plants. The short growing season makes indicas suitable for outdoor growth further away from the equator.

Indica strains tend to provide feelings of deep relaxation. They create more of a body-high than a brain-high, so you can expect your body to feel more intensely than your mind when consuming indicas.


Similar to their dominant half, hybrids with majority sativa can grow to be quite tall and tend to have a lighter green color, though they are bushier and can get higher yields than straight sativas. Their harvests will be best with a long growing season without drastic temperatures.

The anxious or paranoiac feelings that can accompany pure sativa strains are counteracted when crossbreeding them with indicas. The result is often a cerebral but still peaceful high, boosting creativity flow and energy while not getting over-stimulated.


Strains with predominantly indica genetics will grow stocky, shorter plants, dense in flowers and good-sized yields despite having a somewhat shorter growing season. Indica-dominant cannabis strains have been reported as easier to grow than other strains because their growing season is shorter, meaning they arrive at flowering stage more quickly.

Straight indicas have a tendency to make people feel tired, but combining them with energetic sativas counteracts this. Expect relaxing effects without necessarily feeling sleepy.