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Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid - A Comparison of the Different Strains & Their Effects

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Therin Miller | Chronic Magazine

Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid Comparison - Girl holding marijuana in palm of her hand
Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid - A Comparison of the Different Strains & Their Effects

According to statistics, more than fifty million individuals in the U.S. use cannabis at some point. Of these, around thirty-five million active users use cannabis at least once per month. In fact, recent studies reveal that the percentage of cannabis smokers is similar to cigarette smokers in the U.S. cannabis is used for different reasons including medical and personal.

Nevertheless, most cannabis users don’t know the difference between the types of cannabis strains they use. This is why indica vs sativa vs hybrid comparison has become a common topic among users. While all three are cannabis strains, they have differences in origin, how they are grown, and their effect on you. Whether an experienced marijuana user or a beginner, you should know the difference between these strains.

Here is an exclusive Indica vs sativa vs hybrid comparison review on the difference between these strains and what they are used for to help you choose the best strain for your needs.

What Is a Cannabis Strain?

Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid - jar tipped over with marijuana spilling out
Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid - Cannabis Strains

A cannabis strain is a specific variety of marijuana plants defined by its aroma, appearance, effects on the user, and potency. There is a plethora of cannabis strains with different percentages of active chemicals that give different effects. The chemical constituents of a particular strain highly depend on the plant’s genetics. Strains offer more detailed information than just the Sativa, Indica, or hybrid label and help to make the cannabis experience more consistent for the user. Some famous strains include Northern Lights, Durban Poison, and Blue Dream.

But while most growers tell the users if the cannabis strain is Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid, they don't indicate its chemotype. That’s why it is important to know the difference between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid, their composition, and specific effects to help choose one that is best for your needs.

Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid

Let’s look into some specifics of the different cannabis strains; Indica, Sativa, and Hybrids.

Indica Strains

Indica cannabis strain was discovered in the 18th century by John Baptiste Lamarck, an evolutionary biologist. At this time, Europeans only knew about the sativa strain when Lamarck published a description of a new strain from India that looked slightly different and called it 'Cannabis Indica,' meaning cannabis from India. Indica cannabis strains are normally grown in the dry, harsh climate of the middle east. This strain is mostly grown in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.


Regarding physical appearance, Indica cannabis plants are short and bushy with broad, dark green to purple leaves. The buds are also denser in Indica strains compared to Sativa strains.

Indica Strain Effects

Indica strains normally cause a relaxing effect and a 'body high' that enhances relaxation, pain relief, and sleep. Most people claim that Indica cannabis strains are very soothing and relaxing. Because Indica strains offer a relaxing effect, they are best used during the evening after a long, stressful, tiring day, at night during the weekends. Using them during the daytime can lead to unwanted drowsiness at inappropriate times.

Popular Indica Strains

Some popular Indica strains include; Bubba Kush, Blue Cheese, Granddaddy Purple, GMO Cookies, and Purple Punch. You have most probably come across one of these Indica strains.

Sativa Strains

Sativa is another famous and commonly used cannabis strain that offers various recreational and medicinal benefits. The Sativa strains were identified by a Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Cannabis users say that Sativa's effects differ from the Indica strain as it causes a high feeling.


Physically, Sativa strains tend to be tall, thinner plants featuring skinny leaves. Their leaves are light green compared to the dark green leaves in the indica strains.

Sativa strains tend to grow best in warmer areas with high humidity levels. The strain is commonly grown in South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia.

Sativa Strain Effects

People use Sativa strains for their euphoric effects. Sativa offers a feeling of high which is effective in enhancing your mood. Generally, Sativa effects include enhanced concentration, focus, energy, and mood enhancement.

Sativa cannabis strains offer an effect that centers around the mind. This is why people say that it gives them a ‘head high’ that some users find useful in being more productive during the day. Smoking Sativa makes you better focused on the at hand and more energized for enhanced work performance and production. These effects make it best to use Sativa strains during the day, as using them at night might cause insomnia.

Popular Sativa Strains

Some popular Sativa strains include; Super Lemon Haze, Durban Poison Sour Diesel, and Jack Herer. These strains will give you the desired euphoric effects (feeling of high).

Hybrid Strains

Hybrid cannabis strains are a mix of Indica and Sativa strains developed through selective crossbreeding and hybridization. Different categories of hybrid strains include Sativa-dominant, Indica-dominant, 50/50 Indica + Sativa, and Hybrid Autoflower. Deliberate cross breeding is done to combine unique characteristics from both strains.


Hybrid strains often have a mixture of physical characteristics based on their parentage. However, most breeders focus on developing a hybrid strain with higher yields. Hybrid strains are often crossbred for more prolific buds, such as the Big Bud strain grown for its potent, large buds.

Hybrid Strains Effects

Hybrid strains include a mixture of Indica and Sativa terpenes strains to offer weed-positive effects. Hybrid strains often help with bodily relations during the day while keeping you alert and awake. Hybrids come with different percentages of Sativa and Indica. Some can be Sativa-dominant, some can be Indica-dominant, while others are a 50/50 balance of Sativa and Indica.

The effects of hybrid marijuana strains depend on the differences between Sativa and Indica properties. When you use Indica-dominant strains, you will feel sedated and relaxed. On the other hand, if you use a Sativa-dominant strain, you are more likely to feel more energized and focused and have an anti-anxiety effect.

Popular Hybrid Strains

OG Kush - this cannabis hybrid is made in California. It contains high THC levels that produce cheerful relationships and euphoria. The main terpenes include Limonene, myrcene, and Caryophyllene.

White widow- this hybrid strain gives a long-lasting social and relaxed high. The main terpenes in the White Widow include; Myrcene, Limonene, and Trans-nerolidol.

Skunk #1- as its name suggests, this is a smelly cannabis strain. It has a relaxing and uplifting effect, and its main terpenes include limonene, pinene, and myrcene.

Other cannabis Hybrid strains include AK-47, Blue Dream, Fire OG, and Pineapple Express.

How To Choose the Right Cannabis Strain for You

Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid - Guy and girl sitting on couch smoking marijuana out of a bong
Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid - Choosing the Right Cannabis Strain

Most people use both Sativa and Indica strains for different purposes. To choose the right strain for you, it is essential to understand how you want to feel when you use cannabis and the conditions you are looking to alleviate.

If you want to smoke cannabis during the daytime to feel high and energized, you should opt for a Sativa. On the other hand, if you want to smoke before going to sleep, you should opt for an Indica to help you relax.

Additionally, you should use a hybrid strain if you want a balanced high that provides a little focus and light relaxation. Use a hybrid strain with almost an even mix of Sativa and Indica to experiment with a mixture of both effects.

However, always keep in mind that cannabis affects everyone differently. While you might find a Sativa strain fun and energize, it might induce mild anxiety and couch-lock in another person. Experiment with various cannabis strains and see how they affect your body and mind.

What Determines the Effects of Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid?

Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid - Cannabis Terpenes
Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid - Strain Effects

With more innovative scientific studies being conducted today, the debate around cannabis strains is more complicated. Because of selective breeding, most strains are not purely Sativa or Indica. However, other factors are more informative of the effects and benefits of a specific cannabis strain other than just the type of the strain.

Two of the most significant factors of these factors are the terpene profile and cannabinoid profile of every strain. To determine the right strain, it is important to know how these factors influence the type of high and experience you have.

Cannabinoid Profile

Cannabinoids are the main chemical compounds in marijuana plants. The main cannabinoids in cannabis are CBD and THC. Instead of selecting your strain based on only Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid, you should consider basing it on the combination of CBD and THC in a particular strain.


THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is a cannabinoid that causes the 'high' effect. THC-dominant marijuana strains (Sativa) produce a euphoric or high experience. They are also effective in alleviating depression, pain, insomnia, anxiety, and many other issues. However, some individuals can feel anxious when they use cannabis strains that contain high THC levels, while some might not prefer to experience the strong psychoactive effects. If this is your case, you should opt for CBD- dominant strains.


CBD (cannabidiol) is the opposite of THC. This compound is not intoxicating. Instead, it helps ease anxiety, pain, and inflammation with its relaxing effect. The CBD-dominant cannabis strains(Indica) normally contain only trace amounts of THC, which is important if you are looking to feel relaxed and maintain a clear head when handling important tasks. More so, cannabidiol can also help counter the THC's psychoactive effects. Some people prefer cannabis strains with a balanced CBD and THC ratio of 1:1.

While THC and CBD are the main cannabinoids in marijuana, there are other cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBN, THCV, and THCA, which also influence the effects of a strain. When buying, ensure to consider the cannabinoid profile of the cannabis strain to get the right effects for your needs.

Terpene Profile

Terpenes refer to aromatic compounds that occur naturally in plants. These compounds give plants and fruits unique scents, such as the stimulating scent of citrus fruits and the relaxing smell of lavender. In cannabis plants, terpenes are produced from the same glands that produce CBD and THC. They give the cannabis plant its unique smell and offer each strain its unique bouquet of tastes and aromatics along with many medicinal benefits.

The terpenes found in cannabis can make you feel stimulated as essential oils do. Linalool is a terpene that relaxes you, while pinene can make you more alert. It is hence essential to familiarize yourself with the common terpenes as they are vital ingredients that provide extra medicinal benefits to cannabis strains. If possible, smell the cannabis strain when choosing the one to buy and try out the ones that stand out. The common terpenes found in cannabis include;


Myrcene terpene offers a hoppy and spicy smell of lemongrass, hops, and thyme. The terpene offers antimutagen and anti-inflammatory effects.


This terpene offers a relaxing effect. It is hence a soothing anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, and anxiety reducer.


Caryophyllene is responsible for the spicy pepper scent and signature scents of cinnamon and oregano. Studies show that caryophyllene terpenes help to alleviate inflammation, relieve stress, and fight cancer.


Pinene terpenes come in two forms; one that smells like rosemary and pine needles and one that smells like dill, basil, and hops. The effects of pinene include increased energy, mental focus, and enhanced anti-inflammatory effects.


Do you like cannabis strains with citrus scent? Limonene is the terpene responsible for that. Some medicinal benefits of limonene include relieving nausea, depression, and pain, killing fungus and bacteria, and suppressing appetite.

Ultimately, cannabis consists of a spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids that work synergistically to produce psychoactive and physiological effects that can be used to our benefit. Different marijuana strains come with different levels and combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids, and each strain can be used therapeutically. However, consult an expert medical provider before using cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, you now understand the difference between Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid. Whether you use Sativa strains, Indica strains, or Hybrid strains, understanding their difference from one another is essential in choosing the best weed strain. Indica strains offer more of a body high, while Sativa provides more of a head high. Hybrid strains offer a combination of the two effects. The perfect cannabis strain for you will depend on what you want to use it for. However, knowing if a strain is Sativa or Indica is not sufficient information to tell the feeling it will give you; you should take note of the potency levels of the terpenes and cannabinoids in the strain.

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Feb 16, 2023


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