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Indica vs. Sativa – What’s The Difference?

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Are you trying to figure out the difference between Indica vs. Sativa? These terms will come up a lot when you dive into the world of Cannabis. Well, just know that they are two types of species of the cannabis plant, also known as hemp or marijuana. Indica and Sativa are like brothers, and one is shorter and more stocky while the other is taller and skinnier. Both are from the same Cannabaceae family but different in many ways. But we can’t forget about the third brother and that’s cannabis ruderalis (which we will talk more about later on). Let’s take a look at the differences in the sections below.

Table of Contents:

Indica vs. Sativa: What Are They?

Indica and Sativa are terms that describe the different types of species of the cannabis plant.  In the world, traditionally hemp or cannabis can be found growing naturally in parts of Europe and Central Asia. The Himalayan mountains form a geographical barrier that allowed the two different types of cannabis plants to flourish that’s Sativa and Indica.

In the mid-18th century Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus first identified psychoactive cannabis plants as cannabis Sativa. A half-century later French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamark while studying cannabis plants in India, identified Cannabis Indica. Most researchers today agree that the main difference between Sativa and Indica is based on how the plant is grown and not the psychoactive properties of the plant. Distributors and cultivators also use the terms Indica and Sativa to classify the cannabis plants based on their appearance.

Cannabis Indica

Indica, also known as Cannabis Indica is the strain that is commonly joked about as the “In da couch” cannabis. Indica is usually higher in CBD content, giving you a more chill setting. Indica, from the experienced user, can be described as “vacation mode.” Delta-8 Indica is considered milder than Delta-9 Indica and is more chill as well.  Delta-8 Indica will give you the “vacation” you were looking for.

In terms of how Indica looks, Indica plants are more stout and short and look a bit “bushy” and “stocky.” The leaves are more broad looking as well.

Cannabis Sativa 

Sativa also known as Cannabis Sativa is a strain that can be considered the older sibling to Indica that is taller, thinner, and the life of the party. Sativa is known to have a higher THC content than Indica. Some experienced users would describe Sativa as a “head high” so it is quite the opposite of Indica where you are more chill. Sativa is more like a go and seize the day type of strain.

Regarding how Sativa looks, Sativa plants are generally thinner and taller with narrow pointed leaves.


Then there are hybrid strains resulting from crossbreeding Indica and Sativa. The hybrid variations give you the best of both worlds.  While you can get the smooth chill of Indica, you can also get the hype of Sativa. When it comes to hybrids, you can choose which strain is more dominant. If you prefer to be more productive during the day, you can choose a strain with a more Sativa dominant side.

The Different Parts of The Hemp Plant

The hemp plant anatomy consist of the seed, the stalk, the hemp leaves, and the hemp flower. Hemp plant anatomy 101:

Hemp Seed

The beautiful plant known as hemp or cannabis starts with a seed. The seed is basically a nut that contains everything that is needed to blossom new life. Inside the hemp, plant seed is a root, a thin endosperm, and two cotyledons, both of which contain the embryonic first leaves that will appear after germination.

Hemp seed can be used as protein-rich food and can be used to make useful oils. The seed contains essential omega-fatty acids.

Hemp Stalk

The hemp stalk is the support of the hemp plant which helps it grow and mature. The stalk is usually hollow and plays an important role in the growth of the plant.  The hemp stalk is the vascular system of the plant, which means it helps transfer the nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves. The outside layer of the hollow center of the stalk is a woody layer called the cambium. The cambium is traditionally processed and used for hemp fibers such as rope, fabric, and construction material.

Hemp Leaves

The leaf of the hemp is long and slender and is distinguished by its serrated fingers. The leaves usually grow in pairs from the main stems and branches. Hemp leaves are distinguished by having serrated fingers. The size of leaves is different sizes when comparing Indica vs Sativa.

Like all plants, the leaves play an important role in the anatomy of the plant as well as the photosynthesis process. Hemp leaves are what absorb up the light it needs to grow.

Hemp Flowers

The main attraction of the hemp plant is the magnificent flowers it produces. The flowers are typically concentrated towards the top of the plant and are often referred to as the colas. The hemp flower is where the highest concentration of CBD and other cannabinoids reside.  Flowers are known to have a lot of resin and are sticky to the touch.

Parts of the flower:

  • Pistils resemble tiny little hairs. The hairs start off opaque and milky and then it transitions to an amber/orange/brown color as the flower ripens. It is considered the female part of the flower that collects pollen.
  • Calyxes are tiny, teardrop-shaped leave structures that contain the cannabis bud that protects the flower from drying up. When the pollination occurs, the pistils become the flower’s ovaries, which produce the seeds.
  • Trichomes are the “fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichen, and certain protists.” This is where the bulbous and capitate trichomes produce cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The resin in trichomes protects the flower from the sun’s UV rays, water loss, and protection from insects.

What Are The Different Cannabinoids?

There several different cannabinoids two of the most famous associated with cannabinoids are THC and CBD. There are 8 major cannabinoids that are produced by cannabis. Which are: 

1. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)

The most widely known cannabinoid is also known as Delta 9 THC. THC is responsible for your “high.” THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain which results in a release of dopamine by the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

2. CBD (Cannabidiol)

The second most widely known cannabinoid is known for “healing without the high”. Second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant.

3. CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid)

This is one of the most crucial cannabinoids as it is a precursor for all cannabinoids. The nickname of “the mother cannabinoid” because without CBGA there would be no other cannabinoids or medicinal benefits of cannabis. Non-intoxicating cannabinoid. Once you heat up the plant material CBGA turns into CBD.

4. THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)

Does not share THC’s intoxicating properties. It is only found in raw and live cannabis.

5. CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)

Is an acidic precursor to CBD and is non-intoxicating. Found in raw hemp or any raw cannabis strain high in CBD.

6. CBCA (Cannabichromenenic acid)

Third most common cannabinoid in cannabis. CBC shares the molecular formula of CBD and THC. CBC is non-intoxicating. In many different cannabis strains, CBC has a higher count than CBD.

7. CBG (Cannabigerol)

Not well known but is considered one of the two most essential cannabinoids. The chemical parent of THC and CBD. It is the molecular “building block” for THC and CBD.

8. THCVA (Tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid)

Similar to THC but molecularly possesses fewer carbon atoms. Researchers found plants with high levels of THCVA in cannabis Sativa in Thailand, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Some plants have THCVA levels of 53%. Classified as an analog of THC.

Related Article: What Are Cannabinoids? The Ultimate List of Cannabinoids

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes is another term that you should know when it comes to cannabis. Terpenes are another compound found in both Sativa and Indica and basically all things related to cannabis. Terpenes are located in the trichomes of the female cannabis plant. It makes up the aroma and taste of both strains. When it comes to smells or aroma that goes hand in hand with taste. Not only do terpenes affect the smell and taste but it also said to give each strain its unique colors (how they look), and therapeutic, and mood-altering properties.

There are more than 150 types of terpenes in cannabis. Some terpenes are only present in small amounts, but the more prominent terpenes give diverse cannabis strains their unique signature scent profiles. Different terpenes in a combination with the strain will determine the effects it gives you. Fun fact, you can also find terpenes in beer!

Some popular terpenes:

  • Myrcene – Herbal (like hops, lemongrass, mango)
  • Caryophyllene – Pepper (like black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves)
  • Limonene – Citrus (like juniper, peppermint, and fruit rinds)
  • Terpinolene – fruity (like nutmeg, lilac, and tea tree)
  • Pinene – Pine (like pine needles, rosemary, basil)

So now that you know what terpenes are. Terpenes will be a better guide to how you experience each strain.

Related Article: All About Terpenes

What is an Indica vs Sativa Hybrid?

When you are shopping for cannabis products will need to know what a hybrid is. Hybrid strains are a result of crossbreeding Indica and Sativa. The hybrid variations give you the best of both worlds.  While you can get the smooth chill of Indica, you can also get the uplifting, energetic sensation of Sativa. When it comes to hybrids, you can choose which strain is more dominant. If you prefer to be more productive during the day, you can choose a strain with a more Sativa dominant side. Whether the hybrid is more dominant in one or the other strain, pay attention to the cannabinoid profile and the terpene profile.

What is Cannabis Ruderalis?

So you heard of Indica and Sativa, but have you heard of Cannabis Ruderalis? They say cannabis ruderalis originated in Asia, Central/Eastern Europe, and specifically Russia. It is considered a wild breed of cannabis. Cannabis Ruderalis is a short plant that grows from 1 to 2.5 feet tall, with thick and sturdy stems. It is best known for its automatic flowering after 21-30 days of vegetation. The buds tend to be small but relatively chunky. Cannabis Ruderalis is naturally low on its THC content. Many like ruderalis for its ability of auto-flowering. Breeders like to take advantage of this trait and create hybrids that can auto-flower with higher THC content.

Indica vs. Sativa Delivery Method

When it comes to the delivery method or how you consume Indica and Sativa, there are many ways to do it. Whether it is Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC you can find all kinds of hemp products at ATLRx, from edibles, topicals, and inhalation products.  


For edibles, they come in all sorts of ways. At ATLRx you can buy Delta 8 gummies online. We carry all types of gummies from full spectrum CBD, Delta-9 THC, THC-V, and THC-O. Our Delta-8 edibles come in gummies, caramels, and chocolate bars.

For those who don’t like the inhale, edibles are the best way for you to consume them. Even though it may take longer for the product to take effect most people find edibles very enjoyable and discreet. The activation time for edibles can range from 30 minutes to over 2 hours, depending on a range of factors like your metabolism, body chemistry, and serving size.

Tinctures and Oils

With tinctures and oils, all it takes is a droplet under the tongue. Tinctures and oils are one of the faster ways of getting the effects of Sativa and Indica. Usually, it comes in a bottle with a dropper that can measure out the amount of tincture or oil to use. You dispense the liquid under the tongue where it will be absorbed by the membranes and sent to the bloodstream.

The activation time ranges from 10 to 15 minutes to upwards of 30 minutes. Compared to edibles it is a bit faster. You can get broad and full spectrum tinctures/oils online at ATLRx with many different flavors.


The fastest way to consume cannabis or hemp is through inhalation into the lungs and into the bloodstream. The activation time is the fastest of all cannabis products. Inhaling products is not the most discreet way of consuming but this is the most popular delivery method for Sativa, Indica, an hybrids.

At ATLRx we provide many products for inhaling, like a pre-roll flower, Delta 8 concentrates, and many other types of concentrates. With inhalation products, you will need to have a piece or device to inhale either the concentrate or flower product. Combustion is key to inhalation products.


Another delivery method for using Sativa and Indica products is in the form of topical like lotions, salves, and ointments. Topical is one of the rising popular products in the cannabis market. The skin is considered the largest organ in the body. Many people use these types of products for moisturizers or for their soothing effects. At ATLRx there are a wide variety of topicals to choose from, please check out the website.

Choosing Between Indica vs. Sativa Edibles

Now that you know the difference between Indica and Sativa. You can decide which edibles you would like to try. When it comes to delta-8 and other cannabis-derived compounds, delivery method and serving size go hand in hand.

Understanding what Indica does for your body vs what Sativa does for your body is important to deciding which edible you would like to consume.  A few suggestions on edibles.

  • Begin with small serving size. It is best to try out smaller serving sizes and strengths in the beginning. Wait up to an hour and see how your body feels. Then up the dosage if need be.
  • Understand why you are taking edibles and what you want out of the experience. The cannabinoid and terpene profile is more important than Sativa vs Indica leaf. If you notice that your body favors more of an Indica-dominant or Sativa-dominant strain, go with what pleases you the most.
  • Always buy premium products. At ATLRx we provide nothing but premium products. Never buy homemade products as they can never measure potency level or produce health safety products.

Why Choose ATLRx for Sativa or Indica Products?

Here at ATLRx, transparency is our policy. All our products are lab tested for potency, residuals, and pesticides to ensure quality and safety. Our COAs or lab results are available on our website for the public to view. Shopping with us means you can buy Delta 8 THC and other Hemp derived products from one of the most reputable brands! This includes our premium Delta 8 THC flower, a variety of Delta 8 THC concentrates, and the best Delta 8 gummies online! Feel confident in knowing that when you buy Delta 8 THC flower online, you are shopping with the best carrier of Delta 8 products on the internet. 

We care about the customer before anything else. We go out of our way to ensure the products we have are top-shelf quality and tested before even putting them in stock for the customer to purchase. There are many options when looking for Delta 8 THC, HHC, THC-O, Delta-9, Delta 10, and other derivatives for sale, but our products are second to none. With advanced chemical processes that guarantee quicker activation than our competitors, our products are backed up with our safety guarantees. Find out today why thousands of customers choose ATLRx.

As a disclaimer, we want to state that this content is for informational purposes only. This has not been approved by the food and drug administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment or to claim any health benefits. It should not be interpreted as instruction or medical advice to displace the advice of your doctor or other medical professionals. We recommend talking to your doctor to prepare a treatment plan for any diseases or ailments.