Virtually every bud smoker has heard about the differences between Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. Most people will tell you that Cannabis S. produces an active, energetic high while Cannabis I. gives you a body buzz that is relaxing and mellow. Is this view correct? The answer is yes, but the story doesn’t end there.
Let’s take a quick look at the effects of these wonderful little plants. While these two strains may be very similar, they come from two different parts of the world. Each will affect the body and mind in different ways.
The general effects of Cannabis I. could be described as “deep body relaxation.” Indica relaxes both the mind and the muscles, which is great for those who need stress relief. It’s also great for those who are suffering from spasms, seizures, and headaches. By calming every system of the body, this herb can aid the healing process in many ways.
This is a good strain to smoke at night when all your work is done and you want to kick back. It relaxes your muscles deep down to the core, kind of like stretching but a lot more enjoyable. At the same time, it increases the brain’s output of dopamine, which is basically a drug produced by your brain for reward purposes. If you want to know the results of this increase in dopamine production, this might be a good place to begin.
Like all Cannabis strains, Indica will also fight nausea and increase one’s appetite. It can be a very effective pain reliever, especially when dealing with acute (short-term) pain.
This is strain to reach for when you have that first smoke in the morning. Cannabis S. Produces an energetic and upbeat high that makes you better able to complete your tasks and projects. Because of these qualities, this strain also serves as a great remedy for depression. Many users report that this kind of weed helps them to function better, both physically and mentally. Cannabis S. can take the edge off and reduce your anxiety, but without putting you to sleep. Those who use weed as a creative aid will usually prefer this variety.
While Indica is most often used for the treatment of acute pain, the Sativas tend to be used for the treatment of chronic (long-term) pain. Indica increases the brain’s production of dopamine. Sativas also increase the production of another neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin plays a key role in the regulation of mood, sleep, and mental performance.
Sativas are somewhat more diverse in their effects than Indicas. The overall effect of this strain will vary considerably depending on its chemical profile.
Now let’s take a closer look at the differences between our two main strains as we attempt to expand our knowledge even more.
Appearance And Smell
Cannabis S. is much taller than its Indian cousin, and its leaves are much more narrow. If you enjoy looking at pictures of weed, you may have noticed that some pot leaves are thinner, while others have fat lobes. The skinny leaves are from the Sativas, and the fat ones come from the Indicas. There is also a marked difference in smell, but this is a hard thing to describe.
The chief difference between our two strains of Cannabis lies in the length of their growing cycles. Since these two plants come from different parts of the world, they have adapted themselves to two different climates.
Indica is much more tolerant of harsh weather than the Sativas. It is a great choice for those who are growing in temperate zones where the climate gets relatively cold. The Sativas, on the other hand, are better able to withstand the heat of a tropical environment. As such, this strain is a great choice for a place that stays relatively warm throughout the year.
This difference comes from the length of their growing cycles. The Indica plant has adapted itself to a place with a much shorter growing season, and so its growth rate has to adjust. This is why Cannabis I. looks more like a bush, while Sativas will often look more like a small tree.
Myrcene is a compound you may not have heard of, but you probably love it all the same. Myrcene is the chemical that gives Cannabis its distinctive smell. Since this plant is known to smell strongly from a long ways away, you can probably guess that Cannabis contains a lot of Myrcene. This compound also has a number of well-known therapeutic effects.
About Landrace Strains And Heirlooms
It is worth talking about the different lineages that exist within these two species of plant. While most Cannabis has been altered by centuries of human cultivation, the Landrace strains are all-natural. These lineages might well be described as the original weed. If you choose to go with a strain like this, you can expect to see very consistent effects and reliable growing performance.
Indica and Sativas history
You might be surprised to find out that Cannabis has been used by human beings for about twelve thousand years. During that time, it has served many purposes including food, medicine, and clothing.
In ancient China, hemp was the primary material for the making of clothes. Based on archaeological evidence, it seems that early Chinese people would mostly wear garments made out of silk or hemp. In general, silk was only for the rich and affluent, so the vast majority of people wore hemp on a day-to-day basis.
As far as western history is concerned, the Cannabis plant was first identified and cataloged by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. This is not surprising because Linnaeus created the plant classification system that is still used today. As such, this is one of many discoveries attributed to his work. Indica was discovered and named by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785.
It is important to realize that Linnaeus did not base this classification scheme on the same criteria that we might use. His purpose was to create a system by which any plant could be easily categorized based on its similarity to other plants. This is great for researchers, but we are more concerned with the practical side of this matter.
It is worth noting that the plant originally discovered by Linnaeus was hemp, which is not quite as useful as Marijuana. Although hemp makes the best natural fibers on earth, it contains little to no THC. For those of us who enjoy this plant for its recreational benefits, this is a serious failing.
As you may know, hemp was far more common than Marijuana in the past and was even cultivated by George Washington himself. But guess what? Hemp is still technically called Cannabis Sativa. It’s just a different subspecies.
Originally, the term “Sativa” was used to refer specifically to hemp and its relatives. In its natural state, Cannabis S. Contains very little THC and cannot be used to get high. The term “Indica” was originally used to refer to the naturally psychoactive Cannabis plants that were found in India. That being said, the terms have changed their meaning in the modern world.
It remains that we speak of one more Cannabinoid species, that being Cannabis Ruderalis. This is a natural form of hemp which is native to central Europe and parts of Asia. Although this plant was long known by herbal healers as an effective medicine, it was not scientifically documented and named until 1924.
Cultivation of Ruderalis is much less common because it is very low in THC and rarely grows over two feet tall. This means that you cannot use it for recreation, and it isn’t the best choice for hemp fiber production either. However, it is worth noting that Ruderalis contains very high levels of CBD (Cannabidiol).
The health benefits of CBD are numerous and well-documented.
Although CBD doesn’t make much difference to the recreational smoker, it makes a huge difference to the medicinal user. If you wanted to create a purified CBD extract for medicinal use, Ruderalis would be an ideal choice.
What actually determines the effects of weed?
When we consider the psychoactive effects of Cannabis, we can attribute most of them to a series of chemicals that are commonly called Cannabinoids. When I mention this term, you probably think that I am talking about THC and CBD, but there are at least 104 different cannabinoid substances that can be found in the Cannabis plant.
You see, THC and CBD are the chemicals that produce the effects Marijuana users want. However, they have to be activated by heat or other methods before they become the substances with which we are familiar. Cannabis contains a number of base cannabinoid acids, and these are the substances that become the THC and CBD as they are broken down and carboxylated. These cannabinoid acids include:
- CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid)
- THCA (?9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
- CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
- CBCA (Cannabichromenenic acid)
- CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic acid)
- THCVA (Tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid)
- CBDVA (Cannabidivarinic acid)
- CBCVA (Cannabichromevarinic acid)
When it comes to getting a good buzz, the THC is our main concern. CBD alone cannot produce any kind of euphoric effect, and THC doesn’t have the same range of medical benefits. As such, you should balance your needs and choose your pot accordingly. Hybrid strains might be worth considering if you want a strain that will serve as both recreation and medicine.
Terpenes are another important factor. These compounds impart a distinctive smell and flavor. Terpenes are responsible for all the different smells and tastes that allow you to identify a certain type of weed more easily. As we mentioned earlier, terpenes also contribute to the medicinal value of the Cannabis plant by adding even more benefits to the already-extensive list of medical Marijuana uses.
The list of terpenes that can be found in Marijuana include:
Pinene is helpful in the treatment of asthma, pain, ulcers, anxiety, and cancer. As you might guess, it has a smell that reminds you of pine trees. It also tends to make the bud a little harsher.
Limonene is helpful in the treatment of anxiety, depression, inflammation, pain, and cancer. This terpene is responsible for the flavor of citrus fruits, so this is where some strains get a “fruity” taste.
Myrcene is helpful in the treatment of insomnia, pain, and inflammation. This is the skunky terpene, and it is the most abundant terpene in the Cannabis plant. There is some evidence to suggest that it interacts with THC in such a way as to enhance the high.
Beta-Caryophyllene is helpful in the treatment of pain, anxiety, depression, and ulcers. This terpene has some nutritional value and serves as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Linalool is used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, inflammation, and neurodegeneration. This terpene is actually a type of alcohol, and plays a role in plant metabolism. It also contributes to the overall fragrance of the plant.
Humulene is used in the treatment of inflammation. There is evidence to suggest that this terpene can be used in the treatment of tumors. Also, Humulene tends to suppress hunger, so it may explain why some strains never give you the munchies.
This is only a partial list, as Cannabis contains several hundred different terpenes in varying amounts. As a final note on terpenes,this study found that Cannabis S. had no consistent terpene profile due to the high level of variability between different strains. However, they found that Cannabis I. was consistently higher in Pinene, Myrcene, and Limonene.
Which strain is best for me?
As with any decision in life, this one comes down to your specific needs and desires, as well as your medical condition and the advice of your doctor (if you are using for medicinal reasons). While there is no one right way for everyone, we will consider the motivations and factors that will influence this decision.
First, you should ask yourself if you are using this plant for the purpose of getting high in a recreational and social setting. If this is the case, you definitely want to stick with Cannabis S. This strain is the go-to strain for party weed. While Indica often makes a person want to withdraw into themselves and become quiet for a while, Cannabis S. will make a person much more active, lively, and ready to engage with others.
If you primarily use weed as a way to relax after a hard day, then Indica would probably be your best choice. This was probably the earliest strain to be used for recreational purposes, and it is still one of the best. In terms of medicinal value, this type of weed will often contain more CBD than its relatives.
If you are primarily using Cannabis for medical purposes, your situation will be a little different. You probably don’t care about getting high, but at the same time, there is nothing wrong with it either! For medicinal benefits, you would do better to go with either Indica or perhaps a hybrid. Bear in mind that CBD works better when it is combined with a small amount of THC (as nature intended), so don’t rule THC out entirely when considering your choice of strains.
Overall, scientific investigation has confirmed what Marijuana smokers have known for years. Sativas produce an energetic high while Indicas are more relaxing. However, science has added to conventional wisdom by explaining the way in which it works.
As you can see, Marijuana is an incredibly diverse plant with a huge range of uses. With so many options, the novice can often feel overwhelmed. However, we hope that this article has given you the tools and knowledge that you need in order to make an informed decision.
Playing with twisty puzzles is the best way of improving your dexterity and problem solving skills.
Submission courtesy of Michael Blunt