In the world of cannabis, there is no one size fits all.
Each cultivar (or strain) is unique, containing a wide variety of cannabinoids and terpenes. Going into a legal marijuana dispensary can be overwhelming as the choices seem to be endless. From top-shelf cannabis flower with names like WiFi Cookies and MAC Daddy to THC distillate, there is something for everyone. However, the choice doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This is why a cannabis consumer needs to know the difference between what people traditionally call indica vs sativa; especially in indica vs sativa edibles.
But how do you know what’s right for you? And what do those weird names mean anyway? Traditionally, growers didn’t always divide things by strain name. Instead, cannabis had two main types – indica, and sativa.
An indica relaxed you, and make you sleepy. A sativa woke you up, your mind up, and enhanced your creativity. Sativa vs indica edibles, however, are a wholly different experience again.
Even in the ever-popular edibles category, the amount of products on the legal market is dizzying. In this article, we break down the differences between sativa and indica strains. Read on to find out more.
Sativa, Indica, Hybrid – a Basic Breakdown
The majority of cannabis products nowadays are broken down into three categories: sativa, indica, and hybrid. Typically, sativa-dominant products have uplifting, energetic, and cerebral effects. Indicas (sometimes referred to as “in-da-couch”) tend to be more of a sedative, offering a relaxing body buzz. Hybrids are the most common and offer the best of both worlds, with most being designated as sativa or indica dominant.
How to Tell Sativa vs Indica Plants Apart Visually
Sativa and indica cultivars have several key features when inspected by the naked eye. When it comes to cultivation, sativa plants tend to be taller and have longer flowering cycles. The buds are wispier and less dense. Indica plants are short and bushy with compact nugs. Sativa cultivars originated in warm, humid climates like South America and Mexico while indicas originated in mountainous regions of the Middle East and India.
What’s in a Name?
Cultivar names offer a subtle clue as to whether the product is a sativa or indica. Initially, people titled strains after their geographic origins. These “landrace” strains include Hindu Kush, Acapulco Gold, and Durban Poison and are essentially the great-grandmothers of the cannabis cultivars today. After decades of cross-breeding, the majority of strains on the market today are some type of hybrid but the names often call out the ancestors. Expect cultivars with the words “kush,” “OG,” or “purple” to be more indica-dominant. If you see “haze” or any type of citrus fruit on the package, it’s almost certain to be a sativa.
Terpenes, Terpenes, Terpenes
There is a theory making waves within the cannabis industry arguing that the entire “sativa versus indica” debate is a moot point.
As we mentioned above, the majority of cultivars nowadays are some type of hybrid anyway. Now people pay more attention to the terpene content of each varietal as a way to differentiate. Terpenes are the chemical compounds in cannabis that are responsible for the unique aroma and flavor of any given strain. So, when you’re looking for Sativa vs indica edibles, you might want to look at the terpene content of each strain involved first.
Here are some of the most common cannabis terpenes and their potential effects:
- Myrcene – This sweet terpene (also found in mangoes) offers citrusy notes. Most commonly found in sativas, myrcene is abundant in cultivars like Tangie and Blue Dream. Expect a creative and euphoric high.
- Beta-Caryophyllene – Peppery and spicy are the best ways to describe beta-caryophyllene. An indica-leaning terp with stress-reducing properties, it’s prevalent in Death Star and Bubba Kush.
- Alpha-Pinene – A popular anti-inflammatory, alpha-pinene is an earthy terpene found in cultivars including Jack Herer and Blue Dream. It is also one of the most common terpenes on earth and can be found in conifer trees around the world.
- Limonene – Another citrus terp, limonene also appears mostly in sativa-dominant strains, like its counterpart myrcene. It is thought to work well as a remedy for anxiety and depression.
- Humulene – If you have ever been drinking an IPA beer and thought, “gee, this smells dank in a familiar way,” it’s because this terpene is prevalent in hops (one of the cannabis plant’s distant cousins). Humulene usually appears in indica-leaning cultivars like Girl Scout Cookies and Gelato. Much like alpha-pinene, humulene has anti-inflammatory properties.
Sativa vs Indica Edibles – Which Do You Want?
The first place to start when searching for the best cannabis cultivar is to work out your desired outcome.
If you’re looking for a fun-filled, high-energy experience, and want to use edibles, a sativa gummy may be your best bet.
On the other hand, for a nice night in, an indica drink could be the way. More advanced cannasseurs will mix up their regimens throughout the day in order to maximize efficiency.
It’s important to remember that every person is different, meaning one strain that is uplifting for the majority may not have the same result for you. Always start low and go slow in order to achieve the best results. Finding the right cannabis product can be a bit of a guessing game. However, finding the correct strain can impactful and meaningful conclusions – and you may even have a little fun too!