What is the Difference Between Indica and Sativa

The main difference between Indica and Sativa is that cannabis Indica strains are more relaxing and calming while cannabis Sativa strains are more rejuvenating and energizing.

Sativa and Indica are the two main varieties of cannabis. Both Sativa and Indica have multiple medicinal and recreational purposes all around the world, although their cannabinoids composition varies from each other.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Indica 
      – Definition, Features, Effects
2. What is Sativa
     – Definition, Features, Effects
3. Similarities Between Indica and Sativa
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Indica and Sativa
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Cannabis, Indica, SativaDifference Between Indica and Sativa

What is Indica

Indica is a cannabis bush that usually reaches a height of less than two meters. An Indica bush usually consists of dark green, blue, or greenish-black leaves. These leaves are short and contain wide blades. Indica strains usually produce more side-branches and a thicker overall growth than Sativa. Therefore, Indica bushes are wider and bushier than Sativa plants. Indica flowers have thick clusters around the nodes of the female plant, so they usually weigh more than Sativa flowers. Cannabis Indica bushes have a strong stem with thin bark. However, they are not highly suitable for fibre production.

Compare Indica and Sativa

Most species of Cannabis Indica are a source rich in cannabinoids THC, CBD and CBN. Cannabis Sativa often generates a higher content of THC. However, Cannabis Indica is believed to contain significant levels of all three types of cannabinoids. Compared to Sativa, Cannabis Indica usually has a more body-centred effect. When a person is ‘stoned’ with Cannabis Indica, he would feel relaxed but will eventually get a dry mouth and red eyes. Generally, Cannabis Indicas is legally cultivated mainly due to their medicinal and psychoactive characteristics. The most commonly used variety of Cannabis Indica strains is medicinal marijuana.

What is Sativa

Sativa is another species of Cannabis bushes that are taller with a lighter shade of green. Sativa leaves are long with narrow blades. Compared to cannabis Indica, Sativa bushes produce female flowers that are longer with a more ‘feathery’ appearance. The foliage of a Sativa plant has a thin dispersion. It permits more airflow around and between the bushes, leading to healthier growth with less damage from fungus amid humid tropical conditions.

Indica vs Sativa

Cannabis Sativa is probably the most frequently used variety of cannabis around the world. This is mainly because cannabis Sativa has multiple applications. Sativa, being the tallest variety, its hemp is largely grown for industrial purposes. When a person is ‘high’ with cannabis Sativa, which is mainly a recreational variety, he usually gets an energetic and a deep zestful ‘high’, sensation.  Most significantly, cannabis Sativa is highly important when used for patients going through chemotherapy, HIV treatment and other medical treatments that result in loss of appetite and nausea.

Similarities Between Indica and Sativa

  • Indica and Sativa are two main species of cannabis with multiple medicinal and recreational uses.
  • Both Indica and Sativa bushes produce flowers of similar size.
  • They contain cannabinoids THC, CBD and CBN in varying propositions.

Difference Between Indica and Sativa


Indica is a cannabis species having a short stem and broad leaves and is mainly grown for drug use whereas Sativa is cannabis species having a long stem and narrow leaves and grown for hemp fibre as well as for use in drugs.


Indica plant is shorter and bushier whereas Sativa plant is longer and slimmer.


Leaves of Indica are short, contain wide blades, and are dark green, blue, or greenish-black in colour, while leaves of Sativa have a lighter shade and are long with narrow blades.


Sativa has the ability to energize its user, ease anxiety or stress levels and trigger focus and creativity. Indica, on the other hand, affects the whole human body by reducing insomnia and overwhelming the user with a deep sense of relaxation.


The Cannabis Indica users usually get a ‘stoned’ sensation while Sativa users feel an inspiring ‘high’ sensation. This means that compared to Indica strains, Sativa strains impart a more powerful psychoactive effect.

Cannabinoids Composition

Cannabis Sativa often generates a higher content of THC. However, Cannabis Indica contains significant levels of all three cannabinoids THC, CBD and CBN.


In brief, the main difference between Indica and Sativa is that Indica can influence the whole human body and is effective in reducing insomnia and leaving the user with a deep sensation of relaxation, whereas Sativa has the ability to energize its user, eases anxiety or stress levels by triggering the user’s focus and creativity. It is interesting how individual cannabis plants generate varying effects, even among the plants of the same species, mainly depending on the plant’s chemical composition and the techniques used in cultivating the plant.


1. Ferguson, Sian. “Your Beginner Guide to Marijuana Strains.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 8 Mar. 2019.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Cannabis indica plant IMGP3337” By Nikodem Nijaki – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Cannabis Sativa Leaf” (CC0) via PublicDomainPictures

About the Author: Anuradha

Anuradha has a BA degree in English, French, and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Master's degree in Teaching English Literature in a Second Language Context. Her areas of interests include Arts and Literature, Language and Education, Nature and Animals, Cultures and Civilizations, Food, and Fashion.

Leave a Reply