Since cannabis is legal in some US states and other countries, it might be difficult to choose a cannabis strain. Usually, there are three categories of cannabis at the majority of dispensaries or coffee shops: indica, sativa and hybrid. This leads to a indica vs sativa clash. Consumers and sellers use two of those, indica and sativa, to describe strains that either are physically sedating or invigorating. Hybrids usually represent a combination of those effects.
While the traditional belief is that those effects are common for those kind of plants, some researchers say that the chemical profile is not much different. That would mean that it is more a difference between strains than types of plants. The three categorizations can help growers, as they describe the way plants grow and how to take care of them. In terms of effect, it is better to look at the cannabinoid percentages and terpene profiles of the strains you are looking for!
Physical differences between cannabis plant types
The indica, sativa and hybrid categorization is convenient for beginners and can still offer some information about the strain, especially in terms of how it grows! There are several differences between how these three plants grow and that is also where the names come from. Indica plants are shorter than Sativa ones. Indicas have wide leaves and robust stalks while sativas have long branches with large distance between nodes. Ruderalis is another kind of hemp plant that grows in colder environments. It doesn’t have huge or powerful yields but it goes directly into flowering cycle. Ruderalis is responsible of the auto flowering gene in other strains.
Those three type are present all around the world! Indica comes from the Middle East, countries like Afganistan, Pakistan and Tibet. Sativa comes from Southeast Asia and Central and South America. Lastly, Ruderalis is coming from colder places such as Eastern Europe and Russia.
Hybrids are results of people crossing strains all around the world. Nowadays it is extremely rare to find a seed of a strain that is 100% indica vs sativa or the other way around.
While there is no scientific evidence that the type of plant has any influence on effects, terpenes and cannabinoid profile actually do. The effects are influenced more by the cannabinoid content of the flower or concentrate but also the terpenes.
This just means that not necessarily all sativas will make you energetic and not all indicas will put you to sleep! So Indica vs Sativa might be outdated at this moment in time. Now we will give more details on the things that do have an influence on the effects.
The effects that cannabis have on the body are possible because of the chemicals inside of the plant, namely cannabinoids. Like THC and CBD, the most popular ones, cannabinoids are the main elements that produce the recreational or medicinal effect. They bind to the endocannabinoid system in the brain.
THC is making people feel hungry and high, helping with relaxing, pain and nausea. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive and helps peple with anxiety, pain inflammation and many others. Researches found around 144 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but familiarizing yourself with THC and CBD is a good start!
So instead of choosing your strain based on Sativa, Indica or Hybrid, you can now look at the cannabinoid profile. This would naturally lead us to three new categories: High THC Strains, High CBD Strains and Balanced Strains. High THC Strains are for people who search for potent euphoric experiences or trying to treat pain, depression, insomnia and more.
Although the most popular strains, some people do not want the side effects of THC. High CBD strains are used by people who get anxious from THC, or people that want to quit THC. It is also popular among patients that need to stay sober. Balanced strains offer the best of both worlds, having a mild high effect but also the therapeutic side of CBD.
If you ever practice aroma therapy or like to play around with smells in your house, you already have the basics of terpenes. Plants and fruits produce different aromatic compounds with the name of terpenes. They make cannabis smell like cheese, lemon or fuel.
A question that still stands is how are the terpenes and different combinations of them influence the effects of different strains.
More information about terpenes in general, but also the ones found in cannabis is accessible here.
Choosing a strain
In order to get the most suitable strain it is important to know the reason of consumption in the first place. If it is for medicinal purposes or for recreational ones, and also what is their experience with cannabis. Based on the cannabinoid content, rather than the indica / sativa categrization, it is easier to choose from the vast menu of strains out there.
On the Cannah website, we provide 2 guides on how to choose the perfect strain. We feature High THC strains, High CBD strains and also Balanced ones. Even if we present some high THC strains, we actually recommend the Balanced or High CBD strains even for recreational use since they are also providing therapeutic effects. First article is about the best cannabis strains for depression and anxiety, and the second one is top 10 cannabis strains for indoor outdoor cultivation in 2020!