Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Since cannabis was banned in 1937, a lack of funding, research and legality have made its use greatly misunderstood. Because of this, individuals have been left wondering why different strains from the same plant provide different effects. There have been various theories about this over the years, and many of them center on either different cannabinoid ratios and content or different species, sativa vs. indica.
Both sativas and indicas are psychoactive variations of the marijuana plant. In other words, they both generate a type of “high” sensation. However, cannabis connoisseurs can tell the difference between the two since indica and sativa effects can be and often are incredibly different. This tends to be due to their origin stories.
Cannabis indica comes from the same plant but with its own distinct:
The indica strain is known for its full-body sedative effects. It’s preferred by many who are looking to relax or who require a better night’s sleep. Those suffering from anxiety, pain or muscle spasm also turn to indica strains because it helps them recuperate by allowing them to rest easier.
The indica strain produces high amounts of resin, probably as a result of protecting itself against harsh weather conditions up to where it originates in mountainous regions. The resin content is perfect for those who are looking to make hash, which was more dominant back in the earlier days and still today in the Eastern Hemisphere.
This indica plant strain has many flavor profiles ranging from rich earth and sweet musk to grape, berry and other dark fruits. Indica strain effects manifest in your body predominantly, although there are many hybrid variations available today with varying effect profiles.
You can identify cannabis indica in a few ways, including:
The flowers of the indica plant form in thick groups surrounding the female plant’s nodes. They’re more solid than the sativa flowers and weigh more. The indica plant’s leaves and stems are also broader and thicker than the sativa plant’s. Indicas also tend to produce more side branches than their sativa cousin.
The leaves of the indica bud favor a dark shade of green. Some indica strains appear to have almost blue or green-black tint to the leaves. You can divide the cannabis indica life cycle into two different phases:
Both react to various photoperiods, or day-lengths. Females can’t make seeds if growers eliminate the male plants earlier in the flowering phase, and growers can harvest the female’s cannabinoid-rich flowers — tops, buds or colas — for medicinal or recreational use.
The vegetation stage is often referred to as the growing or growth phase, even though the plant continues growing in mass and size during the entire flowering phase as well. During vegetation, the plant experiences short nights and long days, or photoperiod. Cannabis indica, while growing, expands its energy into increasing its stature and size. As the nights get longer and days shorter during the short photoperiod, the plant triggers its flowering phase once it receives the signal fall is coming.
With aroma, the indica strains emit certain odors, such as:
Indica strains may also give off scents of dark fruits, like grape and berry. At the same time, sativas smell fruity, sweet and spicy. The aroma difference is due to terpenes, the plant molecules that are CBDs, THCs and other cannabinoid cousins.
The cannabis indica comes from drier Southern and Central Asia climates like India, Afghanistan, Morocco, Turkey, South China and Pakistan, as its name might somewhat suggest. These regions continue experiencing dry air straight through until October, when it begins raining.
This high-humidity season makes indicas evolve to flower early in order to prevent mold that autumn humidity causes. These plants also produce different hues of red and purple due to unknown evolutionary causes when the colder temperatures hit. Indica strains have a shorter growing phase than sativas, as they usually take up to two months to grow versus 60 to 90 days for sativas to finish flowering. Because of their origin in drier central and southern Asia, they grow and flower rapidly before the monsoon season would set it.
While sativa strains tend to grow lanky and tall, the indica strain happens to grow stout and short, typically around two to six feet tall, producing a smaller yield — around 1.5 to 2.5 ounces for each plant. Indicas also produce less of a yield, but the indica’s shorter cycle of growth offsets this lower yield. Since they are bushy and short, indicas grow well indoors.
The foliage on the cannabis indica is typically a darker green shade, with some having green-black or blue wide, short blades. Indicas also seem to produce denser overall growth and side-branches than sativas, leading to bushier and wider plants.
If you talk to a budtender about the effects of indica, they will likely use some of the following phrases when describing this type:
Individuals sometimes choose indica strains to relax after a busy day or to help deal with stress from a chronic illness. Heavier indica strains may help some people fall asleep more easily.
While indica strains are a rich source of cannabinoids CBN, CBD, and THC, they produce smaller amounts of CBD, which is known for its medicinal properties and lack of psychoactive effects. It increases THC’s effects in a way that generates a more immersive and sedative high. Indicas typically produce higher sesquiterpene amounts, like humulene and caryophyllene, creating a skunky, thick aroma you can smell straight out of the bag from your pocket.
Since there are higher THC levels in indica strains, they’re perfect for individuals seeking treatment for symptoms like:
Other people seem to benefit tremendously from these effects when managing certain conditions, such as:
Patients with cancer particularly seek out relief for the pain and nausea treatments like chemo can cause them.
Due to indica’s relaxing whole-body experience, it works well for body pain, sleeping disorders and general anxiety. Some more benefits include:
For these reasons, medical weed patients often take their indica treatment before they go to bed at night so they are able to get a good night’s sleep without any interruptions. Other folks use indica strains to manage stressful times in their life and deal with chronic pain. While sativa strains may help individuals suffering from fatigue, mood imbalances and depression, indicas help people who are anxious and stressed.
The more pure the indica strain, the more pronounced the above effects are. Today, you’ll find many hybrid strains that are crossbred at dispensaries and have characteristics of both sativas and indicas. Hybrids can be a blend of both or they can take after either parent plant, which is referred to as sativa- dominant or indica-dominant.
Cannabis indica offers a body high or “couch lock” effect ideal for night use when you’re ready to wind down and simply sit in your own head. It causes great relaxation at higher amounts for patients looking to stay sedentary. It’s a perfect type of strain for those wanting to unwind from a long, busy day or week.
With their heavy, sedating effects, indica weed strains make you feel more stoned than high. Because it causes sedation, indica strains should not be used to give yourself energy or become alert. The strain is created to tackle pain.
But it does have some depressive qualifies to it and can dampen your motivation. If you’re struggling with depression or low mood, you may want to reconsider this strain or at least talk with the budtender first to see which indica strain is okay to take and won’t affect your depression.
Many users who may benefit from cannabis indica are appreciative of the effects of this powerful type of strain. Indica strains may be:
Some individuals use indica-dominant strains following strenuous physical activity like cross-training, hiking or rock climbing to help manage their recovery better. Other people use it to help treat their chronic health problems. When you’re in the mood to disconnect and binge-watch TV or a movie on the couch or in bed, you’ll want to reach for an indica strain.
Even though there are countless indica strains out there, there are certain strains created from initial central Asian landraces. The indica strain cross-breeding provides the enormous diversity you find with this species.
A few popular Cannabis indica strains include:
You’ll find various delivery methods of medical marijuana, but it could become overwhelming when you’re new to this type of therapy. However, the diversity of administration methods sets cannabis apart from standard pharmaceuticals. Each method will provide you with a different desired effect and you can use them for different conditions.
Some delivery method examples include:
Whether you’re on the fence about cannabis indica treatment or you’re ready to give it a go, Marijuana Doctors can connect you with everything you need. We can help you find a licensed, qualified doctor for your initial consultation to receive your recommendation. We have hundreds of dispensaries listed in our directory where you can buy your cannabis products, and they have professionals available 24/7 to provide you with detailed information and answer any questions you may have.
We can aid you in finding a dispensary or connecting with a certified marijuana doctor today. The right doctor can provide you with your recommendation for medical weed if you qualify. You should also sign up for our newsletter so you can stay informed about everything and anything to do with medical marijuana. Reach out to us today.