Indica Vs Sativa? What is the Difference Between the Strains?

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While this blog is almost completely dedicated to CBD, it is a very well known fact that all Cannabinoids come from Cannabis. What we love about this platform is that although the CBD industry is largely regulated, controlled and manipulated, we can pretty much say what we like- and it is even more liberating that we can openly discuss something that is currently illegal in the UK (very soon- this will change we are sure).

Before the inevitable happens, we wanted to start writing about the important Cannabis issues and foundation understandings of the plant: first off What is the difference between Indica & Sativa?

Here is a really cool video that explains it in a very easy to understand manner (stolen from Leafly).


So, for those who are completely new to Cannabis, there are 3 main strains-  Indica, Sativa and a Hybrid. Classically, if you are a heavy smoker, you would identify which of these stains you prefer based on what you want to achieve.

Sativa is said to produce an ‘energising’ and uplifting high which ensures that you are high functioning and energetic which makes them the ideal strain for a party, social event or if you want to feel great dancing while washing the dishes.

Indica is the nightcap – this strain is often associated with a laid back, relaxing high that is often taken before bed. Gorilla Glue is a famous Indica strain; named after the fact that it ‘glues you to the couch’.

Hybrid is a little bit of both worlds. You will find that most of the popular Strains are Hybrids.

These characteristics are so entrenched in ‘weed culture’ that the first thing somebody asks is which strain you prefer… but as science has progressed it is starting to become apparent that the characteristics associated with each strain are not always strictly true. This is because the active compounds in the cannabis are what makes the difference; cannabinoid profiles & terpenes (or terps if you are a Reddit user)

What are the differences between Indica & Sativa (In Science)?

Physical differences

While the effects of India & Sativa may not be as different as first thought, there are big differences between the two strains physically.

For instance, the Sativa strain is taller in structure, it has narrow leaves and has lower flowering cycles. Sativas tend to be more branchy and fibrous which makes them great for textiles.

It is much better suited to warmer climates with longer seasons. An Indica is a shorter, more dense bush with thicker leaves and shorter stature; almost opposite to the Sativa Strain, the plant prefers cooler climates with shorter season cycles.

It is the environment that makes the active compounds in each strain slightly different. Lets dive in more:

Chemical Differences

As we have mentioned above, there is actually no evidence to back up the stereotypes of Indica, Sativa or Hybrid strains; the impact is almost completely down to the active Cannabinoid & terpene profile. It is why some may try a Sativa (like Hemp) and feel the real chill- and why others can take an Indica and feel a real energetic head high.

It can be argued that there is some general truth behind the stereotypes but nothing concrete – and that the general characteristics can help people identify which product may be best for them. After all, there is an overwhelming range of cannabis strains that it can be fairly difficult to know where to start!

But if you want our advice, it may be best to learn the contents of the individual strains- that means the levels of THC compared to CBD, and which terpenes are also contained within the strain.


The main reason Cannabis has an effect on our body is due to cannabinoids, and our Endocannabinoid System. So all cannabis strains have active cannabinoids with different ratios (some with more CBD, and others with more THC). Cannabinoids also interact synergetically, which mean that they regulate and enhance the effect of each other (called the Entourage effect). So a stain with a high level of THC will be more relaxing and a smoother high than a strain with a mind-melting amount of THC which will hit all the overload triggers.

There are a few effects that can be predicted:

THC: This is what makes you high – it can also induce hunger, and relieve symptoms of pain. It can also in high levels make you paranoid, anxious or experience a psychotic event (like hallucinations). Long term heavy use can also lower your cognitive function and aggravate mental health issues that may be underlying. Don’t worry though- if you eat too many carrots you’ll go orange: Cannabis is the same- don’t overdo it!

THC dominant strains are chosen to initiate a really euphoric experience. Those who take high THC strains use Cannabis as a recreational drug at a party or for a friday night in.

CBD: This Cannabinoid is the second most abundant in Cannabis. It is more of a sedative and can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and help with sleep. It also synergetically regulates the psychoactive effects of the THC. So, if you try a strain that may be a little strong, keep a CBD tincture close at hand to get a good THC/CBD balance.

A CBD dominant strain (like CBD flower) does not get you high and is preferable for those who have bad experiences with THC strains. It tastes, and smells the same, just without the high or negative side effects.

THC & CBD Strains: This is where the money is- a nice balance means that you get the best of both worlds. The high, pain-relieving effects of THC, and the relaxing and regulatory effects of the CBD. Generally, these strains won’t make you too high, but high enough to feel something.

Other Cannabinoids: It is also worth noting that Cannabis strains also contain other cannabinoids such as CBG & CBN which have their own effects, and are part of the entourage effect. A strain high in CBG will certainly have a very different effect to what CBN may produce.

The thought process for the strains is that there is a higher content of CBD in Indica strains which is why they have a sedative effect, but we know this is certainly not true. Hemp, which contains very low levels of THC is a Sativa strain.


Terpenes are the second active compound which affects the way that our body uses Cannabinoids as they also have a synergetic effect. For those who do not know, terpenes are aromatic compounds that are found in almost every citrus rind or woody herb- they are what give plants their aromatic scents.

The flavours and smells of different strains of Cannabis are all down to the terpene profile- so while an OJ Kush has an earth, ‘classic’ cannabis aroma, a Diesel will smell a little rougher (like petrol).

It is a little know fact that terpenes also have therapeutic effects and change the way that our body absorbs/ uses Cannabinoids (one Terpene actively stimulates the endocannabinoid system). We are unlikely to go into too much detail into terpenes here but you can learn about them online

Sativa Vs Indica CBD Oil

The vast majority to CBD oils in the UK is produced using a Sativa strain (apparently it is a legal requirement but the legal guidelines/ government are useless so it is either not enforced or not true) but there are a few that market an ‘indica CBD oil’ or paste. In theory, this plays into the hands of real Cannabis enthusiasts who know the characteristics of the strains- so a Sativa CBD oil is for the morning, and an Indica CBD oil is for before bed?

By using what we have discussed above, it is clear that the strain has little to no impact of the effects of a strain, and it is the active compounds and terpenes that are present. CBD oils are produced to remove the THC content so they are a completely different beast entirely. The fact that they have been produced using either a Sativa or Indica strain will make almost no difference in terms of Cannabinoid profile- it will, however, impact the taste and terpene profile. In saying that, the terpene profile can be manipulated to change the desired effect anyway.

In short- A sativa CBD oil and Indica CBD oils are pretty much the same thing.

All together now…

Just to bring this all together, while there are some difference between the strains, when we talk about their effects it is their cannabinoid or terpene profile that impacts how they make us feel; it is, therefore, beneficial to research the strain/ product’s cannabinoid profile first and understand its ratio of THC to CBD, and what the active Terpenes may do too.

When it comes to Sativa Vs Indica CBD oils it doesn’t make too much of a difference in term of how much CBD you’re getting- the terpenes may be different but that is about it!