Indica Strains vs. Sativa Strains
August 11, 2016
Sponsored to you by Altitude Organic Cannabis, written by Aaron H. Bible
Are you looking for an indica or a sativa?
It's usually the first question someone is asked when they finally make it up to the counter at a recreational dispensary here in Summit County, and it's an important one to know how to answer.
It's not a high-pressure situation, just a simple starting place for a "budtender" to be able to help find the exact right strain, or strains, for a particular customer. Indica and sativa are the two major types of cannabis plants that are used for their THC and other cannabinoids, although scientifically they are the same plant.
So, what's the difference between an indica strain and a sativa strain? The question the bud tender really wants to know is — how do you want to feel? And, says Aaron Bluse, co-owner of Altitude Organic Cannabis in Dillon, they might also ask what flavors you like, and other questions about any medical conditions you are attempting to treat.
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Simply put, sativa strains are generally considered to produce more energetic highs, while indica strains produce relaxation and more of a body buzz. Hybrid strains are equally as common however, with mixes typically being 80/20, 70/30 or 50/50 in all combinations possible.
Sativa plants grow tall and large and are typically suited for outdoor growing, whereas indica plants tend to be short and stocky. Popular indica strain names you'll hear include White Widow and Northern Lights, many of which are used to treat insomnia and for pain relief. Sativa strains such as Purple Haze and Sour Diesel are more commonly smoked or vaporized during the day for a more cerebral high.
The hybrid strains that dispensaries and growers are constantly experimenting with in interesting and creative ways produce a variety of effects of flavor, taste and profiles of cannabinoids and terpenes to achieve a desired "high" or treat a specific physical condition.
"Not every strain is going to affect every consumer in the same way," Bluse said.
"Everyone's biochemistry will vary. The individual's tolerance, the amount consumed, how it is consumed, and the items the individual consumes prior to taking cannabis (food, water, alcohol, etc.) will all alter the effect of any given strain."
Notably, botanists consider all cannabis plants members of the same species: cannabis sativa L. Hemp used for industrial purposes is a member of cannabis ruderalis J. And cannabis plants are lauded for their adaptability and ability to interbreed. This, again, gives growers the ability to produce a wide variety of strains that take on the characteristics of the growing substrate, water and of each other as they propagate, clones and seeds of which are used to continue a desired strain.
"Sativa strains originate from the equatorial and tropical regions of the globe and are usually higher in THC," explained Bluse. "They're best used before outdoor activities, painting, writing and before eating."
He said sativas are used to modify appetite, for enhanced creativity, to relieve stress and for their vibrant flavors.
"Indicas originate from the mountainous and elevated regions of the globe," Bluse said. "These strains are usually higher in CBD, one of the other 420 cannabaoids found in the plant in addition to the better known, THC."
Bluse said indicas are used for exactly the opposite: to relieve anxiety, improve sleep and relieve pain, known for their more "earthy" flavors.