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Cannabis, also known as marijuana or weed, enjoys a relatively long history of human use. Archaeological findings discovered a few years ago point to evidence of marijuana usage from as far back as 2,500 years ago. The plant’s extracts formed an integral part of folk medicine. They also constituted raw materials for the textile industry.

Did you know that the words “cannabis” and “canvas” share the same etymological origin?

That only proves how significant weed was in the textile industry back then.

But while cannabis has been with us for thousands of years, serious scientific studies into the herb did not start until the mid-20th century. Findings from these research programs have revealed numerous aspects about the plant that we didn’t initially know.

For instance, we now know that cannabis isn’t a distinct plant. Instead, it’s a genus of flowering plants that produce several species and strains.

This article compares the differences across the three most common cannabis strains, namely cannabis Sativa, cannabis Indica, and cannabis hybrids.

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Sativa: All You Need to Know


Cannabis sativa is the most popular marijuana strain. Sativa strains are so popular that many people often use the phrase ‘cannabis Sativa to refer to the plant in general.

The word ‘Sativa’ is a loose translation for ‘things that are cultivated.’ It’s unclear when the term first gained mainstream recognition. However, that might have been when weed was first cultivated as a commercial or medicinal crop.

Sativa strains were originally native to Asia and the Middle East. However, these strains are now widespread throughout other continents and climatic regions. Cultivation is more intense in South and Central America, Southeast Asia, and California in the United States.

Cannabis Sativa plants stand out for their relatively taller height than their indica counterparts. The strains also sport light green, sparsely distributed leaves.

Sativas are generally slow growers compared to indicas. That’s because they tend to take more time in the vegetative growth phase.


Sativa strains are mentally stimulating. That makes them a top recommendation for people looking for a head high.

Consider administering a Sativa strain if battling physical and mental fatigue. The strains can also stimulate your creativity and enhance focus. No wonder they’re particularly popular with artists and creatives, such as musicians, stand-up comedians, painters, and writers.

Pain, anxiety, nausea, and inappetence are other common medical ailments you can treat using sativa strains.

Top Sativa Strains

The most popular sativa strains include;

·         Jack Herer

·         Sour Diesel

·         Blue Dream

·         Green Crack

·         Durban Poison

·         Strawberry Cough

·         Super Silver Haze

·         Acapulco Gold

·         Panama Red

·         Moby Dick


Indica: All You Need to Know 


Cannabis Indica is the second-most popular marijuana strain. These strains trace their origin to the Hindu Kush Mountains. That pretty much explains the ‘Indica’ reference in their names.

Hindu Kush Mountains refer to the mountain ranges located in the Hindu Kush region, an 800-kilometre-long range that stretches from Central to South Asia and to the west of the Himalayas.

Based on their native range, it’s evident that indica strains prefer dry and harsh climates. But like most cannabis cultivars, Indica will thrive in just about any climatic condition.  You’ll now find Indica plantations in South and Central America, North America, Asia, and Europe.

Indica strains have certain striking phenotypic characteristics too. Most notably, these cultivars are relatively shorter than their Sativa cousins. They also produce denser foliage, which usually features dark-green leaves.

Another reason behind Indicas’ popularity among cannabis growers is their rather fast maturation period. When subjected to the same growing conditions, these cannabis species can mature up to one month earlier than their Sativa counterparts.


Cannabis Indicas are famous for their full-body high. Not only will extracts obtained from Indica stimulate your mind. They’ll also exert various therapeutic benefits across the body.

Chronic and acute pain are some of the most common medical issues that Indica can help you with. When consumed, extracts from these plants alleviate pain by altering the signaling of the vanilloid receptor, an endocannabinoid receptor that regulates nociceptive activities. This can help relieve muscle pain, headaches, and other types of pain.

Indicas are also famous for increasing deep relaxation and relieving mood disorders. That’s due to their remarkable sedating effects.

You might also use Indica cultivars in treating sleep disorders like insomnia, inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis, and emetic feelings. Indica strains are some of the best muscle relaxants thanks to their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Just ensure you’re ordering your Indica-based goods from an established cannabis supplier. It’s also prudent to check the ingredients list to establish that the product was sourced from an Indica cultivar.

Lastly, due to Indica’s powerful calming effects, it’s best to consume the strain late in the evening.

Top Indica Strains 

Below are the most popular indica strains;

·         Hindu Kush

·         Bubba Kush

·         Purple Kush

·         Granddaddy Purple (GDP)

·         Northern Lights

·         Blue Cheese

·         Girl Scout Cookies

·         White Tahoe Cookies

·         Wedding Cake

·         Strawberry Banana

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Hybrid: All You Need to Know 


Hybrid cannabis strains are a mixture of Indica and Sativa plants. A hybrid can either be Sativa dominant or Indica dominant. As the names imply, a Sativa-dominant hybrid contains more Sativa features, whereas an Indica-dominant hybrid packs more Indica features.

However, a hybrid strain could also contain more than two strains. For instance, you could have a hybrid that blends the features of Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis.

Cannabis ruderalis is a lesser-known marijuana strain native to Eastern and Central Europe and Russia. Ruderalis strains are famous for their short and stalky appearance, especially compared to their Indica and Sativa counterparts. These plants are also incredibly resilient and can survive in extreme climatic conditions. It’s worth noting that cannabis ruderalis is still one of the relatively new and unique strains. In fact, some researchers are still unsure whether to classify ruderalis plants as distinct marijuana sub-species.


Hybrid cannabis strains can provide diverse applications. That’s for the simple reason that these strains feature the best of Sativa and Indica.

The actual therapeutic benefits and psychoactive effects of hybrid cannabis strains depend on their Sativa vs. Indica composition.

For instance, Sativa-dominant hybrids contain less Indica and more Sativa traits. Extracts obtained from such plants are more likely to induce Sativa effects, which include mental stimulation, enhanced creativity, and increased focus. Similarly, Indica dominant hybrids will expectedly produce effects similar to those of pure Indica strains. These include but are not limited to mental relaxation, pain relief, and full body high.

The fact that hybrid cannabis plants can provide the best of both worlds explains why many people consider them the most effective weed strain. And while many cannabis-related publications tend to focus on Indica vs. Sativa varieties, hybrids remain the most preferred options due to their wide-spectrum effects.

Top Hybrid Strains

The most popular hybrid strains include;

·         OG Kush

·         Blue Dream

·         White Widow

·         Bruce Banner

·         Cherrie Pie

·         AK-47

·         Pineapple Express

·         Trainwreck

·         Gorilla Glue

·         Sour Space Candy

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Difference Between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid Strains

Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid: Cannabinoid Profile

Cannabinoids refer to the therapeutically beneficial chemical compounds in cannabis. These compounds are also known as phytocannabinoids.

The cannabis plant produces at least 120 phytocannabinoids. However, the most popular and widely studied ones are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC are also the most prevalent cannabinoids in cannabis plants. The two compounds can constitute up to 40% of most marijuana extracts.

Both cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol can offer incredible healing benefits. High-quality THC products may help relieve pain, ease inflammation, reduce anxiety, improve nausea symptoms, and various other medical issues.

The same is true for CBD goods. In addition to its ability to reduce anxiety, CBD may also treat pain, fight inflammatory conditions, relieve seizures, and improve insomnia.

The primary difference between THC and CBD is that the former contains additional psychoactive properties.

Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid: THC and CBD Content

Both Sativa and Indica plants contain decent amounts of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol. These compounds tend to be more concentrated in the cannabis flower than in any other part of the plant.

However, Indica strains tend to be relatively higher in CBD and lower in THC. The converse is true for Sativa cannabis strains, which are generally higher in THC and lower in CBD.

Hybrid strains can contain varying concentrations of the two major cannabinoids. It all depends on the specific compounds that cannabis farmers or researchers paid attention to while developing the hybrids.

Understanding Terpenes 

Terpenes refer to the aromatic compounds in cannabis that give cannabinoids their distinct effects and flavors. Popular terpenes in weed include myrcene, limonene, pinene, caryophyllene, linalool, and eucalyptol.

In addition to their powerful aromatic effects, many terpenes also have certain therapeutic properties. Therefore, they can work synergistically with cannabinoids to create the entourage effect.

Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid: Terpene Profile

Both Indica and Sativa strains teem with terpenes. The same is true for hybrid cannabis and virtually any other marijuana strain. But just like cannabinoids, the concentration of terpenes in marijuana will differ across the specific strains.

Indica plants are considerably higher in the terpene myrcene. The high amounts of myrcene in Indicas explain why they tend to produce calming effects.

On the other hand, Sativa plants contain decent amounts of many other strains. These include humulene, pinene, linalool, and caryophyllene.

Hybrid strains can contain different combinations of all major cannabis terpenes.

Types of Terpenes with the Highest Concentration of Cannabinoids

Beta-caryophyllene is arguably the terpene with the highest concentration of cannabinoids. Commonly abbreviated as BCP, this terpene has a peppery scent.

It’s famous for its anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic benefits. And as already indicated, caryophyllene is more prevalent in Sativa cannabis strains than Indica.

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What Are The Effects Of Different Cannabis Strains?

The therapeutic and psychoactive effects of the different strains depend primarily on the specific cannabinoids in them.

When comparing the effects of an Indica vs. Sativa vs. hybrid cannabis strain, you’ll realize that Indicas are generally sedating while Sativas are stimulating. Many cannabis users agree that a Sativa strain is likely to produce a head high, while Indicas are associated with a full body high.

The effects of hybrid strains depend on whether they’re Sativa-dominant or Indica-dominant. For instance, sour diesel’s Indica vs. Sativa composition is 10% vs. 90%. Therefore, sour diesel products are more likely stimulating than sedating.

Also, the effects of Indica vs. Sativa vs. hybrid depend on the consumption method. For instance, smoking cannabis offers near-instance effects than consuming weed edibles, regardless of the strain type you choose or its parent plants.

Are Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid Strains Legal?

The legality of the three popular strains depends on their tetrahydrocannabinol concentration.

According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived products are legal in all 50 states in the United States, provided they contain a maximum THC potency of 0.3%.

However, certain strains like Sativa tend to be considerably higher in THC. Therefore, most products formulated from such cannabis plants are likely illegal.

Most importantly, remember that cannabis laws vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another. These regulations are constantly changing too.

Therefore, establish weed’s legal status in your country or state, regardless of whether you’re shopping for marijuana’s popular strains or other lesser-known plant cultivars.

How to Pick a Suitable Strain for You? 

The choice of the right strain depends primarily on your desired effects.

Cannabis Indica strains will serve you better if you want to combat stress and anxiety. That’s because Indica strains provide mental relaxation.

On the other hand, you might consider cannabis Sativa strains if you are looking for mental stimulation. And as expected, the effects of hybrid strains will depend on the percentage of Indica and Sativa strains in them.

It’s also important to consult your medical marijuana doctor while choosing the best cannabis strains. The doctor can help you choose between Indica and Sativa strains based on your medical history. Depending on your medicinal and recreational needs, they may even recommend something other than the two famous strains.

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Final Word

It’s imperative to familiarize yourself with all the cannabis strains out there. That’s especially true if you’re new to the cannabis industry. While most strains pack some therapeutic and recreational benefits, they may differ considerably in terms of their overall effects.

Experts also recommend purchasing cannabis supplements from an established supplier. That’s the only way to be sure you’re getting high-quality products each time.


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