Sativa vs Indica; Know the Major Differences
July 30, 2018

Sativa vs Indica; Know the Major Differences

The complete comparison
Nicole Richter Nicole Richter / Updated on July 30, 2018

Sativa vs Indica

You’ve probably heard before the terms Indica, Sativa and Hybrid. But what do these terms really mean? Most of all, without being a professional cannabis cultivator, how can you quickly learn to tell the difference between them and also understand how each of these strains can impact you, especially when consumed?

Here at Marijuanabreak we understand that these concepts might seem new and complex, but by the time you’ve finished reading this article you’ll know the difference between Sativa and Indica cannabis strains and more important how each may effect you.

If you are thinking “Sativa vs Indica” – what is the difference? Then this article is for you.

It’s In the Cannabis Looks:

Believe it or not, those who have seen a lot of marijuana in their lives know how to identify different cannabis strains by the way they look. With hybrids this can sometimes be complex, but with almost pure indica/sativa strains, there truly are some pretty vast differences in appearance.

Sativa Marijuana Plant Appearance:


This cannabis strain is the King of the Jungle, and it sure makes you feel royal too with its uplifting effects. The reason we call it this? Sativa strains are known to grow giant, sometimes as tall as 12 feet in height when cultivated outdoors!

The leaves, buds and colas of a sativa marijuana plant are far spread apart. They grow in an upwards motion, with the branches stretching themselves up to the sky. Additionally, very little bud grows towards the stalk of the marijuana plant, with the majority, if not all the useable plant material beginning to grow almost half way up the stalk of the plant. This type of cannabis strain often requires a lot of room to grow due to its sometimes enormous size and its branches that need space to reach out and flourish.

Lastly, a sativa’s leaves are much thinner than that of an indica. You’ll notice scrawny, almost pencil like leaves that collect together at a point on the bottom, giving the leaves its classic ‘marijuana leaf’ look.

Indica Marijuana Plant Appearance:


The Indica cannabis strain sort of acts as a hidden hero. Much smaller than the sativa strain, it typically only grows up to about half the height of its relative sativa plant (around 6 feet tall). Even though their size pales in comparison to the King plant (the sativa strain), Indicas are a fan favorite of cannabis cultivation professionals all across the globe because of their dense growing pattern.

The indica’s marijuana plant shape is very similar to that of a pine tree, with its branches starting from a point at the top and becoming denser as they reach the bottom. The usable plant material typically begins flourishing almost at the root of the stalk, with not much space from the bottom of the plant to the top of the soil. Additionally, indica buds are thick and hearty, producing incredibly high yield colas and flowers.

The easiest way to recognize an indica strain? By its fat, wide and flat leaf shape. Compared to a sativa’s leaves, the indica typically has the same pattern, but it seems almost as if the leaves have swollen to double, if not triple their usual sativa width.

How Do These Marijuana Strains Affect Patients?

Cannabis Sativa

This is the part you most likely care about, unless you are planning on working in the cultivation industry.

Cannabis Sativas typically have a more uplifting high that brings energy to the consumer. This is the type of marijuana strain you usually smoke while out on social gatherings or events with your friends, or if you want to be productive around the house. This strain is wonderfully suited for day use and can often cause a cerebral high that will bring your mind pure energetic bliss.

This strain in pure form has a higher concentration of THC in comparison to its ratio of CBD.

Medical Benefits of Cannabis Sativa

Both Sativa and Indica have medical benefits but both have different effects on its users. Sativa tends to be more stimulant and is known to be more effective in treating:

Sativa cannabis strains tend to have a positive uplifting effect on its patients which often results in a psychoactive high. Most patients prefer to consume Sativa strains throughout the day.

Cannabis Indica

Indicas classically have a couch-lock high that serves as a wonderful strain for relaxation time, or to aid in falling asleep if you are having trouble getting enough rest at night. This cannabis strain works its magic especially during night use or the dark hours of the day. Feel calm, serene and intoxicated by this sultry and mellow strain.

Indica in pure form has a higher concentration of CBD in comparison to its ratio of THC, the opposite structure of what is occurring in the sativa plant.

Medical Benefits of Indica

Those of you that have been smoking for a while probably know that Indicas work wonders during the evening or before bed time. Indica strains are known to be sedatives and effective for treating:

It’s the perfect sleeping pill and tends to bring on a sort of heaviness, which is comforting and relaxing at the same time.

Sativa vs Indica
Photo Credit:

Final Thoughts About Sativa vs Indica

No matter what kind of high you prefer, there is some type of cannabis strain available to you that can aid with any troubles you’ve been having, as well as bring some of what you desire to you (relaxation, energy, calm or an uplifting spirit).

Next time you have your moment with the cosmic green, feel awesome knowing that you could identify its strain if it was growing in a field, and that you know how your body is going to react to this specific type of cannabis. Settle down with a calming indica, or maybe an uplifting sativa. Want something in-between? There’s a whole world of hybrids (crosses between Indicas and Sativas) out there for your pleasure and enjoyment!

It is important to always remember to use discretion when consuming cannabis products. All responsibility lies solely in the consumer’s hands.


  1. James McNevin
    Article helped.

    Though I haven’t smoked since teens, I’ve been introduced to vapor and its helped with my chronic pain from 4 back surgeries that left me in a chair. Now it’s just try each and see which does it for me. This information sure helped. Don’t have to ask grand kids for info now.

  2. Tom Johnson

    Christine Fleming Smith:

    It sounds like you need some exercise. If you are unable or have been sedentary for awhile try very mild non strenuous exercise.

  3. John Townes

    Great explanation.
    Thank you.

  4. wrr

    Wonderfully written article, especially for us older “newbie’s”! I’m cultivating and integrating with 90+% chocolate! Any comments?
    Take care!

  5. Christine Fleming Smith

    I truly have never liked cannabis cause of the bad reactions I get. Extreme panic attacks and anxiety, wanting to eat , and my throat feels like it’s closing in on me. I need mostly CBD and little to no THC. I have 3 different neuropathies, and chronic Lyme disease. So the chronic pain disables me and I want off pain medication but need to find the right kind of cannibis. Please help.

    1. Jane
      Try Tropicals

      Have you tried Topical CBD products? There are many great vendors. I have a “bone on bone” shoulder about to be replaced so I need vaped pain relief but these products helped ALOT for a long time. Similar to a prescription topical called “Voltaren”. Some have menthal which is nice; others are nice almost waxy texture that just rubs right in. Search for Sisters of the Valley.

    2. Zck

      Sour tsunami
      These are high CBD, low RHC strains

  6. Adam

    As the saying goes. With Indica you wake-&-bake. With Sativa you blaze at night and sleep real tight.

    1. lori


  7. AmanWithoutaface @Live. com

    I have smoked for 25yrs, funnily enough I have never bothered to think of any effects at all other than being as stoned as possible. Over time I have noticed fatter leaves tend to be a stronger high though this is not an exact science in general it does seems to work. I have (unknowingly) tended to sway towards ‘indicas’ as they seem to offer a BIGGER PUNCH.
    Saying that I am still astounded that anybody goes for anything less than as strong as possible? Maybe I have smoked harder than I assumed… maybe some individuals are still ‘green’?
    Anybody with any advice for a lifelong smoker and 2nd time (outdoor) grower would be greatly appreciated.

  8. Maria Vega

    Love Sativa, it is commendable. Thanks

  9. Ruth Bailey

    Great article for newbies. Informative and accurate.

  10. Bonnie Gable

    Thanks for the explaining the difference between sativa and indica. Helped a lot.

  11. Rhonda Brown

    Does CBD works for brain disorders? Please let me know. Which strain is good?

    1. Adam

      Of course. But it really depends on the condition and what you need

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