The two main types of cannabis, sativa and indica, are used for a number of medicinal and recreational purposes.
Sativas are known for their “head high,” an invigorating, energizing effect that can help reduce anxiety or stress and increase creativity and focus.
Indicas are typically associated with full-body effects, such as increasing deep relaxation and reducing insomnia.
Although research examining these effects is limited, it appears these plants have more in common than previously thought.
Many in the cannabis industry have moved away from the terms Indica, Sativa and hybrid and started classifying the different “strains” or, more correctly, “chemovars” as:
- Type I: high THC
- Type II: THC/CBD combined
- Type III: high CBD
More and more, the cannabis industry is moving away from the term “strains” and using chemovars (chemical varieties) instead, since the word “strain” is often used to refer to bacteria and viruses.
Here’s how to find the right plant for your needs, strains to consider, potential side effects, and more.
What should you look for to understand strain effects?
The often-applied rule of thumb is that sativas are more invigorating and energizing, while indicas are more relaxing and calming — but it isn’t really that simple.
Individual plants produce varying effects, even among the same type of cannabis. It all depends on the plant’s chemical composition and the growing technique used.
Oftentimes, the plant types are broken down into specific chemovars, or breeds.
Chemovars are distinguished by their individual cannabinoid and terpene content. This “cannabinoid profile” will provide the user with the best information to help them determine which chemovar is best suited for them.
Relying on names does not provide the user with the necessary information to pick the correct profile. These compounds are what determine the chemovar’s overall effects.
Cannabis plants contain dozens of chemical compounds called cannabinoids.
These naturally occurring components are responsible for producing many of the effects — both negative and positive — of cannabis use.
Researchers still don’t understand what all of the cannabinoids do, but they have identified two main ones — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) — as well as several less common compounds.
If you have even a novice’s experience with cannabis consumption, you’ve likely heard those “in the know” describe various cannabis strains as fitting into one of three different groups: Indica, Sativa, or a Hybrid of those two. Conventional cannabis wisdom tells us that Indica strains are powerfully relaxing, with couch-lock effects and even sedating influences. On the flip side, Sativa strains are said to be uplifting, with focusing or energizing effects from all in the group. Hybrids are therefore somewhere in the middle, depending on the “dominance” of Indica or Sativa in its lineage.
These terms have found their way into the legal cannabis industry in states across the US, with dispensary menus frequently breaking products down into groupings based on their strain classification to help guide customers to their desired experience for that sessions.
But are sativa and indica really different? What if we told you that this foundational separation of cannabis strains – the almighty Indica/Sativa dichotomy – is actually pure and complete myth with 0% reliability behind it?
Well friends – it’s true! Using “Indica” and “Sativa” as indicators of hard and fast effects from your cannabis products is almost guaranteed to fail you, because there is absolutely no science or truth behind the link between cannabis experiences and Indica/Sativa classification.
We know that this is paradigm-shifting information, but here at Periodic edibles, we’re dedicated to spreading the true science of cannabis, and helping cannabis consumers everywhere get the most predictable and repeatable cannabis experiences possible.
That’s why we’re collecting everything you need to know about Indica and Sativa – what they actually do mean, what they definitely do not mean, and what you should be looking for in your cannabis products instead of defaulting to Indica and Sativa – so that you can be empowered with good knowledge to better continue your cannabis journey.
Better Ways to Shop for Your Cannabis
Now that you’re an expert on the inaccuracy of the Indica vs Sativa dichotomy, you may be wondering – how do I predict the effects a cannabis product will give me? Guiding this process requires consideration of the following:
- Check the Terpenes – Terpenes – or the essential oils that give cannabis strains their unique smell and flavor – are the keys to finding the nuanced cannabis experience you desire. Take note of how the most abundant cannabis terpenes – like Myrcene, Limonene, Pinene, B-Caryophyllene, Linalool, and others – affect you personally, and use that knowledge to better choose products that align with your desired experience for that consumption.
- Pay Attention to ALL Cannabinoids – in the black market days, cannabis was all about THC, but thankfully we are now discovering many other beneficial cannabinoids inside cannabis. Take note of the ratio of THC to CBD in your cannabis products and notice how you feel from products with 1:1, 2:1, 7:1, etc. In legal markets, you can also now find products with good percentages of minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, THCV, and many others, all of which have exciting medical and mental effects that you can use to tailor your cannabis experience to your needs.
- Find Retailers and Companies that are working to shift the paradigm – as more consumers begin to get wise to the hollowness of Indica vs Sativa, businesses with their customers’ interests in mind are beginning to more away from the Indica vs Sativa distinction on their products. Here at [Pe], we’re extremely proud to have been among the first processors in Oregon to shift our product labeling to effects-focused distinctions and harness the power of terpenes in our recipes. Many others in Oregon and across the country are doing the same, so look for products that list terpenes and cannabinoids, and don’t list Indica or Sativa to indicate effects to get more repeatable and consistent experiences. Likewise, retail dispensaries are beginning to require terpene and cannabinoid testing on the products they sell, and many are moving away from or abandoning Sativa and Indica altogether to more effectively guide their customers to the right products for their needs. Try to find a reputable dispensary that doesn’t rely exclusively on Indica and Sativa to communicate effects. Check menus online to see how a dispensary is organizing their products, and when in doubt, go in and ask a budtender for a product for a specific effect, and see how knowledgeable they are about the true science of cannabis.