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Sativa? Indica? Both? Which do you prefer?

What is the difference between indica and sativa? This is often one of the first questions that we hear from new patients.

Scientifically and legally, there is no difference between indica and sativa; all cannabis plants are considered to be Cannabis Sativa L. In practice however, the differences between the two strains are many and varied. Each strain has its own range of effects on the body and mind, resulting in a wide range of medicinal benefits.

The differences between indica and sativa remain the subject of much debate. However, most people agree that that they are distinct in a number of ways.


Sativa strains originated around the equator and can be found in countries like Colombia, Mexico, and several African Nations; while Indica strains originated from a higher altitude and can be found predominantly in countries known for their hash culture such as Morocco, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Turkey. Indica plants are also shorter and fuller compared to their sativa counterparts.

Today, marijuana strains range from pure sativas to pure indicas and hybrid strains consisting of both (although, finding pure strains or either plant is quite difficult).


One word that should belong in every medical marijuana patient’s vocabulary is cannabinoid. There have been over 85 different cannabinoids identified within the cannabis plant. The most well know of which is THC and is cannabis’ primary psychoactive chemical compound. CBD is the second most well known cannabinoid.

CBD has gained prominence in the past decade and has been found to be non-psychoactive and responsible for many of the therapeutic and medicinal properties associated with medical marijuana.

Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds secreted by the cannabis flower that provide relief for an array of symptoms. These work by imitating compounds naturally produced in our bodies – endocannabinoids – that activate to main internal health and stability.

For example, THC binds to receptors in the brain whereas CBD (cannabinol) has a strong affinity for CB-2 receptors located throughout the body. By aiming the right cannabinoid at the right receptors, different types of relief are achievable.

Generally, indica plants have a high THC: CBD ratio and sativa plants have a high CBD: THC ratio. Products and strains have been developed to deliver larger doses of different cannabinoids, so knowing which types best treat your symptoms is an important piece of knowledge to bring to your next visit. If you’re unsure, just ask us on your next visit.


Because sativa and indica flowers have very different medicinal benefits and effects, certain strains and hybrids can be targeted to better treat specific illnesses. The following are the general differing effects found between the two strains.


  • Uplifting and energetic
  • Cerebral, spacey or hallucinogenic
  • Best suited for day use
  • High CBD: THC ratio


  • Relaxing and calming
  • Body buzz
  • Best suited for night use
  • High THC: CBD ratio


Sativa dominant marijuana tends to provide an uplifting, energetic, and cerebral high that is best suited for daytime use.

  • Feeling of well being and at ease
  • Stimulates and energizes
  • Increase focus and creativity
  • Up lifting and cerebral
  • Fights depression

Indica dominant marijuana tends to be very effective for overall pain relief and is often used to treat insomnia. Due to the drowsy effect of indica strains, it is best suited for nighttime use.

  • Relaxes muscles
  • Relives pain
  • Reduces seizures and relives spasms
  • Relives migraines and headaches
  • Relives stress and anxiety


Don’t forget that how you consume your medical marijuana also has a significant role to play in the overall effect. Smoking VS. edibles VS. vaping will give you varying results even with the exact same strain, but we will save that for a future blog post.


For patients who need to medicate throughout the day, choosing the wrong strain can be the difference between a productive day and one spent napping. If you have any questions about which strain is right for you, just ask us. We’d love to make sure that we provide you with the right medical marijuana for your specific needs!

Finally, comes down to personal preference and how each strain uniquely reacts to your body. What do you prefer? Indica dominant or sativa dominant strains?

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