Sativa vs Indica: What Do They Really Mean & Can We Do Better?

When it comes time to purchase our weekly or monthly supply of cannabis we initially take note that there are three general “types” of cannabis strains to experience. Sativa, indica & hybrid strains of weed are what our local and international dispensaries are currently using to measure the specific high we’re craving. The question is, have you ever had a sativa that locked you into the couch? Or. Have you ever partook of an indica that made you feel like you just shotgunned a Green Monster or two?

The average cannabis consumer has experienced this phenomenon more than a handful of times. We know that sativa doesn’t ALWAYS mean you’re going to be UP and energized. And the indica varieties don’t always force you to get stuck “in da” couch.

What’s Going On?

How do you choose strains that provide you a consistent experience, as per the alleged label? Just because it says it’s sativa doesn’t always necessarily mean you’ll have a UP time party. It’s NOT ideal to “think” you’re going to get a sativa experience and you get an indica experience. Especially if you’re looking to have a nice social night out and the sativa is making you feel like passing out during pre-party.

To uncover the truth we need to begin by asking the proper questions that will guide us into discovering the true information we desire.

  • What do sativa and indica mean?
  • Are there only three basic types of weed? (Sativa, Indica & Hybrid)
  • What are terpenes and why are they important?
  • How To Understand Complex Cannabis Information Easily?

What Does Sativa & Indica Mean?

Simply put, these two terms refer to the basic “shape” of the plant & provide a general idea of the effect. We popularly know that sativa strains give you an energetic head high, whereas indica strains give you a slowed down body high. Another popular distinction is that the sativa plants are quite tall and skinny and the indicas are short and bushy. Finally, the general distinctions is that sativa has more CBD than THC & indica has more THC than CBD.

In short:

  • Sativa: Tall and skinny, head high
  • Indica: Short and bushy, body high

This is how we “generally” like to think about cannabis. The truth is, there are a WHOLE LOT more specific ways to categorize and measure the entire spectrum of all the various properties. We currently know that cannabis has over 400 chemical entities and approximately 61 are cannabinoids and more than 100 of are terpenes. [1,3] Knowing just how much complexity there is begins to open a doorway to more understanding of specifics. Are there more specifics currently that we don’t know about?

Are There More than Three Types Of Cannabis (Sativa, Indica & Hybrid)?

There may be more than just sativa and indica strains that populate our historical timeline. What else is there besides sativa and indica? And the answer is there are four different types of “strains” floating around; sativa, indica, Kush, and Ruderalis. The question is, could there be more specific distinctions made in the future? It turns out, the future is now, and we are already beginning to discover more and more interesting characteristics, such as terpenes.

What Are Terpenes And Why Are They Important?

Terpenes are responsible for providing the amazing varieties of aromas we get to enjoy with every different strain. With aroma being one characteristic of terpenoids, they also serve countless other important functions. One important terpene is Myrcene, and according to genomic research specialist, Scot Waring, Ph.D., he has discovered that Myrcene helps the THC molecule cross the blood-brain barrier. Thus allowing the cannabis to reach the cannabinoid receptors inside the brain more efficiently to trigger high effects.

How To Understand Complex Cannabis Information Easily?

One of the main problems is bridging the gap between complex scientific information and simple understandings for the masses to easily digest. Scientists are in their laboratory doing all kinds of experiments looking to figure out what makes cannabis do what it does inside of our bodies. The more they do experiments, the more complex the information becomes and the less and less the general masses tend to understand.

Having hundred and hundred of chemicals in cannabis means that there are hundreds, thousands and seemingly an unlimited amount of variations the cannabinoid and terpene chemicals can be mixed and matched. Having almost unlimited types of cannabis strains possibilities brings a general understanding of an almost unlimited amount of feelings and relief the smoked effects could bring. A tool of the future could have the potential to both diagnose and prescribe the proper strain that will deliver a consistent result based on your unique needs.

Because we are not in the future, just yet, this is why we have these easy words like indica, sativa & hybrid. Having simple words for the mass market to use is the process that begins to pave the way in beginning to create consistent experiences. Sativa and indica are words that are more tailored to suit the needs of the masses than to calculate specific functions that a scientist would need while conducting a laboratory experiment. And generally speaking, these two words tend to work pretty well for the mass market.

Sativa gives you a head high, and indica gives you a body high.

What If The Future Unlocks Methods That Quickly Gave A Consistent Desired Feeling Or Relief?

Currently, it appears as though the high-level scientists are still playing “catch up” research. In understanding and discovering ALL there is to know about cannabis and how it affects the body, there will soon be a day where choosing a specific feeling is as simple as using an Apple product (iPhone, iPad, etc., absolutely). Press a few buttons, get diagnosed and receive the proper combination of cannabis molecules that accurately heal you in the unique way your body needs.

Final Question: Can We Do Better Than What We Currently Have Been Doing?

The humble answer is yes! There is always room to improve and fine tune. For right now, Sativa, Indica & Hybrids will suffice until the next generation technology is imagined and brought into existence.


[1] Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals

[2] A chemotaxonomic analysis of cannabinoid variation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae)

[3] Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules

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