Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid – What’s the Difference Between These Cannabis Strain Types?

Indica vs sativa vs hybrid, do you know the difference between these marijuana strains? With dedicated growers breeding well over 1,000 strains of cannabis over the last few decades, you might wonder about the variations between the different species and their potency.

Cannabis is a species divided into three varieties: indica, sativa, and ruderalis.

Don’t be too surprised if you’ve never heard of cannabis ruderalis. C. ruderalis plants are small and produce pretty low yields. They also contain a minute level of THC, so the pros rarely grow ruderalis for harvesting purposes. It’s primarily used in hybrid strains for its auto-flowering effect.

The cannabis community focuses on sativas, indicas, and hybrids, which we break down below.

Table of Contents

What Is an Indica Strain? What is a Sativa Strain?

The indica and sativa varieties of the cannabis plant are psychoactive, so you’ll get high no matter which strain you choose. Marijuana lovers distinguish between the two because their effects can vary substantially.

Growing Indica Plants

Indica plants are short, bushy, and compact, with thick foliage and hefty leaves. During the flowering stage, indica plants don’t waste any time; they’re usually ready for harvest in six to eight weeks.

Many growers prefer indica strains because of how quickly they blossom. Plus, indica plants don’t grow very tall, making them perfect for home growing.

Growing Sativa Plants

Sativa plants often have thinner leaves and are tall and lanky. They can flower for up to 12 weeks, as opposed to six to eight weeks for indicas, which might frustrate eager growers. Sativa strains are typically more expensive to grow indoors because of the longer blooming time, but the yield is frequently slightly higher.

What Does an Indica High Feel Like?

Indica strains are well known for their ability to sedate users. The term couchlock is sometimes used to describe the well-known body high of potent indica strains that make you want to curl up on your sofa. After a hard day at work or before bed, indicas are great for relaxing with a movie or music in the evening. They’re ideal for unwinding before falling asleep.

Pure or almost pure indica strains include:

  • Northern Lights
  • Hindu Kush
  • Critical Mass
  • Purple Kush
  • Sweet Tooth

Indica strains are well-liked by those with pain, nausea, sleeplessness, and anxiety. Indicas frequently produce euphoric exhaustion, relaxation, and a ravenous appetite.

What Does a Sativa High Feel Like?

On the other side, sativa strains are renowned for their energizing mental benefits. These strains are excellent for social situations and creative activities like composing music, painting, and writing because they elevate cerebral qualities.

Examples of pure or almost pure sativa strains include:

  • Amnesia Haze
  • Durban Poison
  • Strawberry Cough
  • Chernobyl
  • Lemon Haze

Sativas are perfect for an energizing wake-and-bake session, akin to a cup of coffee, because of their stimulating effects.

hybrid strains

What Are Hybrid Weed Strains?

Hybrid strains are cannabis strains bred and grown from two different parent plants. Growers can cross-breed two indicas, two sativas, or an indica-sativa mix. The biggest advantage of a hybrid strain is that it combines the therapeutic benefits of both parents.

Cannabis cultivators can cross-breed any two strains to create a new strain that offers the biggest bang for your buck. Growers can even develop hybrid strains for specific diseases like epilepsy, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.

Hybrid strains are further divided into three categories.

1. Sativa-Dominant Hybrids

Sativa-dominant hybrids combine the cerebral high of sativa with the relaxing effects of indica. Basically, a sativa-dominant combination gives you more of a head high and less of a body high. Strawberry Lemonade, Sour Diesel, and Juicy Fruit are just a few examples.

2. Indica-Dominant Hybrids

Indica-dominant hybrids offer pain relief with a calming head high. You’ll feel a much stronger physical high and less of a head high with indica-dominant combinations. Examples include Triangle Kush, Big Bud, and Watermelon Zkittlez.

3. Balanced Hybrids

Balanced hybrids combine the best of both strains with 50/50 indica/sativa genetics. Sherbacio, Tangerine Dream, and White Widow are some of the best hybrid strains.


indica strain

The Distinction Between Terpenes and Cannabinoids

You should get to know terpenes and cannabinoids if you’ve ever wondered what gives sativa and indica strains their unique flavor, fragrance, and high. The cannabinoid content and scent of a bud might be a crucial clue as to which strain you’re dealing with.


The chemical elements present in the cannabis plant are known as cannabinoids. They are responsible for the herb’s various effects. THC and CBD are two of the most well-known cannabinoids you undoubtedly already know about and enjoy.

While CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is not psychoactive and does not make you feel high, THC, also known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, is psychoactive and results in a high. THC and CBD are only two of over 100 distinct cannabinoids, each having a unique impact.

You can find the same cannabinoids in both sativas and indicas.


Terpenes are fragrant substances in cannabis and other plants and fruits. When you sniff your buds, you smell terpenes. These emerge and change naturally throughout plant development, and the terpenes undergo significant change once again during drying and fermentation.

The terpenes are solely responsible for a strain’s impact. Some well-known, popular terpenes include:

  • Limonene — citrusy with euphoric and anti-stress properties
  • Pinene — piney with energizing properties
  • Myrcene — earthy with soothing and pain-relieving properties
  • Linalool — floral with anti-anxiety properties
  • Caryophyllene — spicy and woody with anti-inflammatory and depression-relieving properties

Cannabis includes thousands of terpenes, much like cannabinoids. Both sativa and indica flowers have them in the trichomes. Some strains have more terpenes than others. For instance, the terpene limonene is nearly always present in lemony strains like Super Lemon Haze.

sativa strain

Medical Benefits of Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid Cannabis Strains

The primary difference between an indica strain and a sativa strain is their medicinal effects and their impact on your productivity and energy levels.

Modern medicinal cannabis cultivators purposefully breed various strains in the indica and sativa categories to ensure patients and recreational users can find exactly what they need for their unique preferences and lifestyle.

Often, patients have work or family responsibilities that require a certain energy level and can’t tolerate the calming properties of many indicas. In other cases, patients seek the best possible non-opiate pain reliever. Marijuana growers breed many combinations to effectively target conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, fibromyalgia, and Parkinson’s.

Which Strain Is Best For Me?

Finding your ideal cannabis strain for your specific needs is all about trying strains you might like and eventually zeroing in on what works best for you. But we can offer some initial guidance.

Sativa strains tend to be more beneficial for mental disorders like depression, PTSD, and anxiety.

Indicas often provide the best relief for pain and inflammation, making them helpful for those who have arthritis, fibromyalgia, and cancer.

Many hybrid cannabis strains provide pain relief and fight inflammation without knocking you out or causing couchlock in the middle of the day.

Ultimately, each cannabis fan will favor multiple strains that fall into indica, sativa, and hybrid strain categories.

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JJ Smoak

Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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