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July 17, 2021
 min read

What is the difference between Indica vs. Sativa CBD?

indica vs sativa cbd
 Anthony Clement
Written by  
Anthony Clement
July 12, 2021

table of Contents

Most people don’t realize there is a difference between Indica vs. Sativa CBD. While both of these species come from the cannabis plant, they are very different in terms of their features and beneficial effects.

Although many people use medical cannabis plant, they usually can’t tell the difference between Indica vs. Sativa CBD. Oftentimes, we refer to cannabis Indica as the marijuana plant, and we call cannabis the Sativa hemp plant.

In reality, a lot of these cannabis strains are hybrids. They are often created by mixing marijuana strains with hemp strains. Cannabis growers love to experiment, creating plants that have the best of both worlds.

In this article, we will take a look at Indica vs. Sativa CBD and what to expect from both of these plants.

Cannabis plant species

We differentiate 3 cannabis species: Cannabis Indica plant, Cannabis Sativa plant, and Cannabis Ruderalis.

When we talk about the medical cannabis industry, Sativa cannabis is the most popular product. This is otherwise referred to as the hemp plant. In order for a cannabis plant to be categorized as hemp species, it needs to have less than a 0.3% THC ratio. Otherwise, it is regarded as a medical marijuana strain or Indica cannabis.

Unlike hemp strains, marijuana plants can be used both recreationally and medically. Depending on how you use it and the country in which you live, the plant may or may not be prohibited. Indica dominant strains are under a lot more scrutiny due to their psychoactive effects.

Lastly, we have Ruderalis. This plant is also referred to as auto flowering cannabis. Although not as potent as Sativa dominant strains or Indica, the plant is much easier to grow. It basically needs minimal investment and care. However, most growers prefer other cannabis species as they are more profitable.

We also have hybrids that are made by combining several cannabis Indica strains, several cannabis Sativa strains, or Sativas with Indicas. These plants are created to emphasize certain medicinal properties or to create interesting psychoactive effects. Keep in mind that as you combine different species, you will get plants with new terpene profiles and chemical composition.

What is the difference between Indica vs Sativa CBD?

Here is how you can differentiate particular strains and species. For the purpose of this article, we will omit cannabis Ruderalis, given that it is rarely grown or used.


This species is primarily grown for its medicinal benefits. Sativa leaf is light green, with specific pointy ends. The plant is very skinny and tall.

Companies use Sativa buds to create CBD oil and other medical hemp products. Sativa effects are primarily described as stimulating. Most users administer the substance during the day to increase focus and alertness. However, the plant can produce different effects.

A lot of people use the product to relax and unwind. You can also utilize it to reduce soreness and stiffness in muscles. A good example of a quality Sativa strain is Sour Diesel.


On the other hand, Indica is mostly used for its high THC content. Indica buds are full of this substance, which is why people primarily use marijuana as a recreational drug.

The Indica plant is the polar opposite of Sativa. Short and bushy, it is very resilient. Its leaves are much thicker, although they have a similar structure as Sativa leaves.

Indica effects are often described as sedative and relieving. They are ideal for nighttime use. If you use the plant as a medical marijuana strain, you can address numerous internal and external issues.

Hybrid Cannabis strain

Hybrid strains are meant to provide the best of both worlds. The truth is, most of the products we use today are created by mixing various cannabis strains. So, you can expect various unpredicted effects when using modern cannabis products. Alternatively, you can learn about the plant from the manufacturer.

The best way to learn about a specific hybrid is to simply try it. Generally speaking, people react very differently to cannabis Indica, Sativa, and hybrid strain. You never know what to expect until you start using a strain. Nevertheless, all of these products should provide at least some medicinal benefits.

How does a particular strain affect our bodies?

Cannabis plants are affected by almost anything. Environmental factors, as well as growing practices, can have a major impact on their chemical profile. Still, the biggest factor you need to consider is the quality of a strain.

Some plants were specifically created to focus on a specific substance. Nowadays, you have strains that have enormous quantities of THC or CBD. There are also those that focus on specific terpene profiles. If you wish to understand potential effects, the best thing to do is to read the Certificate of Authenticity. Here, you can find all the data regarding THC, CBD, various cannabinoids, and terpene concentration.

Based on these ratios, THC heavy products will cause psychoactive effects with lesser medical benefits. Products that are high in CBD won’t cause psychedelic episodes, and they can provide lots of wellness benefits.

The potential effects will also vary based on the product that you're using as well as the administration method. The most popular substance on the market is CBD oil that can be used topically for muscles and skin or sublingually for relaxation as well as improvement of mood.

Sativa dominant CBD oil vs. Indica dominant CBD oil

Nowadays, the most common medical cannabis product is CBD oil. Commonly, this term is used to refer to oil extracted from the hemp plant. But, it can also be used to describe a marijuana extract.

Given that there is so much overlapping, you need to consider the underlying strains.

Although Indica dominant products are often criticized for inducing psychoactive effects, that doesn't mean they don't work. In fact, THC can produce some very unique benefits that you won't get with Sativa. For example, while both of them can relax your body and mind, Sativa CBD oil is much better at this.

Unfortunately, if you wish to use CBD oil for a long period of time, it is much better to go with Sativa dominant cannabis. Based on everything we know, prolonged use of cannabidiol shouldn’t cause any permanent damage. The same cannot be said for THC, in which case there are some major health concerns.

If you see that a company is selling CBD oil, there is a good chance this is a Sativa Plant derived product. Indica CBD oil is very rare and is usually available only in countries and states that allow recreational marijuana. These products have more than legally allowed 0.3% THC concentration, which is why they will be banned in many regions of the world.

Chemical composition of Indicas and Sativas

As mentioned, these plants usually have overlapping chemical compounds. They are full of substances such as CBG, CBD, CBC, CBN, THC, terpenes, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, proteins. Based on what we know, the species has more than 100 different active ingredients.

Almost every substance within the Indica strain and Sativa strain has some kind of effect on our body. Although most companies put emphasis on CBD and THC, there is much more to the plant than these two chemicals.


Cannabinoids are substances that can be found in a few plants. In most cases, their concentration in these plants is very scarce. This is precisely why we use cannabis as the best source of cannabinoid substances.

Here are the common cannabinoids you can find in hemp and marijuana:

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) 

The main reason why marijuana has been scrutinized for all these years is due to the presence of THC. What most people don't realize is that this plant has some other psychoactive chemicals. However, they cannot compare to THC in terms of their strength.

The substance is very common in Indica. It can cause relaxation, elation, and hunger. People often use it to relieve pain, improve digestion and mood.

CBD (cannabidiol)

The same way THC is the trademark of marijuana, CBD has the same value for hemp. It is becoming a symbol of the whole industry and one of the most recognizable acronyms within the wellness field. The substance can provide numerous beneficial effects, and it works by reducing stress, promoting better sleep, boosting focus and memory, etc.

The chemical has some similarities to THC in terms of its potential benefits. However, it will not cause the same high, nor can it cause long term consequences.

CBG (cannabigerol)

After CBD and THC, you have a lot of less known cannabinoids. One of them is CBG. It is not as potent as previously mentioned substances, and it comes in very low quantities. Experts hope that the chemical can help with several issues, including glaucoma, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn's disease.

Keep in mind that CBG is even less researched than CBD and THC, so there are a lot of holes in our knowledge.

CBC (cannabichromene)

Here is another cannabinoid that will not cause any psychoactive effects. It might also have some wellness benefits that will boost your health.

What's interesting with CBC, is that like CBD, it might provide some protection against THC's negative effects. Scientists believe that it might play an important role in neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, both of which are crucial for a healthy brain. On top of that, the chemical might also have anti inflammatory features.

CBN (cannabinol)

The last important cannabinoid is CBN. It has some psychoactive effects, but it cannot compare in potency with THC. There are very low levels of this substance in hemp and marijuana.

CBN is often used for improving sleep. It might also have some potential for inflammation.


Terpenes are chemicals that are present in all plants. They give them flavor and smell. These substances often get named after specific plants and fruits. For example, you have limonene that is characteristic for citruses, and pinene that smells of pines.

Depending on a specific terpene profile, a specific strain will have a unique aroma. Oftentimes, growers will add hemp or marijuana strains with nice smelling terpenes in order to improve the other strain and create hybrids that combine great aroma and rich cannabinoid profile.

While these chemicals are often referred to as something that gives cannabis smell, they might also have certain wellness properties. For example, some of these substances have anti inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anxiolytic traits.

Some of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant include limonene, myrcene, terpinolene, and caryophyllene.

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