When it comes to cannabis, there are two main types of strains: indica and sativa. These two strain types (along with hybrids which are a combination of the two) have formed the foundation of how consumers think about their flower purchases. The strain types have various associated characteristics that inform the consumer as to the effects of the strain, and oftentimes cannabis users will use that to determine what flower to smoke and when.
There are plenty of notions about indica and sativa that are up for debate. Let’s start with the basics of what is generally accepted.
Indica strains are known for their relaxing and sedating effects. They are often used to help with insomnia, chronic pain, and muscle spasms. Indica strains are also known for their “body high” which can make you feel relaxed and heavy, making it a good option for evening use. These strains tend to have a higher CBD to THC ratio, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and a lower THC content, which is the psychoactive compound that causes the “high” feeling.
Sativa strains, on the other hand, are known for their uplifting and energizing effects. They are often used to help with depression, fatigue, and lack of appetite. Sativa strains are also known for their “head high” which can make you feel more energized, focused or creative, making it a good option for daytime use. These strains tend to have a higher THC to CBD ratio, though not always the case.
Hybrids are the combination of both Indica and Sativa strains, which produces a balance of both effects.
What about from a biological standpoint? Is there science to back up these differences?
Most botanists think about cannabis like the general public does with two distinct species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. But even the basic taxonomy is up for debate, as many botanists would classify all strains as a single polymorphic species of Cannabis sativa (essentially various different types of forms within the same species).
There is still more debate related to whether or not there exist distinct differences in effects of indica versus sativa. Dr. Ethan B. Russo, MD, a board certified neurologist and well respected expert in the cannabis space, asserts that classifying the effects of indica as one thing and sativa as another is an oversimplification of an exceedingly complex system. He instead attributes many of those perceived differences to the terpene profile of the strain rather than a cut and dry classification of indica and sativa. “Sedation in most common Cannabis strains is attributable to their myrcene content, a monoterpene with a strongly sedative couch-lock effect… In contrast, a high limonene content (common to citrus peels) will be uplifting on mood.”
Even if indicas typically affect you one way and sativas another, it’s worth noting that different strains can have different effects on different people. Between the potency of the flower, the terpene profile, the entourage effect, and the individual’s endocannabinoid system, there are many factors at play.
A good budtender is a great resource to lean on to get more information about a strain that you may be unfamiliar with. It’s always a good idea to start with small doses and see how your body reacts before consuming more. It’s also important to purchase cannabis products from reputable sources, as the quality and purity can vary greatly. The state regulates the testing of all cannabis products sold in Massachusetts which ensures the purity of all products on the market. Orange Cannabis Company maintains a carefully curated menu so you can rest easy knowing that you are buying high quality products as well.