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Indica Vs Sativa

What is the difference between Sativa and Indica is a question we get quite a lot- particularly from previous customers of the CBD brothers/ The Original Alternative or those who smoke cannabis recreationally.

For those of you who don’t know, that there are three main strains: Sativa, Indica, & a Hybrid of the two (we will talk about Sensimilla towards the end – no Seeds). These types (or strains) of Cannabis strains are deeply routed in Cannabis culture and usually, if you are into smoking you will be asking which is your preference.

While the battle between Sativa & Indica is fairly obvious in the cannabis community, it is much less obvious when you are looking into CBD oils or CBD paste. All CBD oils in the UK (including ours) are produced (or should be according to the FSA & CTA) using a Hemp extract (from leaves and/ or flower), from a strain called Sativa L. – which is a part of the Cannabis family but isn’t known for being smoked down to the fact that there is a very high level of CBD, and low levels of THC (why people smoke Cannabis in the first place).

If you are looking for an Indica strain CBD product, you can find it here!

So what is the difference between Indica & Sativa (& the CBD oils they produce), and does it matter?

What is the difference between Indica vs Sativa?

Well, if you ask somebody who knows their Cannabis well:

  • Indica: is known for being chill and is often taken before bed or to relax after a long day (strains like Northern Lights & Blue Cheese). The Indica strains are known to ‘lock you’ to the couch.
  • Sativa: is commonly associated with an ‘uplifting, exciting and cerebral’ effect which is said to be better for creative projects, exercise or at social gatherings (strains like Amnesia or Sour Diesel)
  • A Hybrid: is a combination of the two where you may be able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Some of the most famous strains are Hybrids: Including Stardawg, Gorilla Glue and OG Kush. All of our Vape concentrates/vape pen options are hybrids with a sativa/indica lean.

The physical differences between the strain are:

  • Indica: Short in stature, broad leaves, shorter flowering cycles and are better suited to cooler climates.
  • Sativa: Tall in stature, narrow leaves, long flowering cycles and (you guessed it) like the warm sunshine.

The different environments and structures will certainly have an impact on the chemical profile of the plants.

These differences, however, are generalisations and do not truly represent the qualities of either strain; by a long way, the most important factor in this is the Cannabinoid & Terpene profile of the plant. So it is much more important to understand the chemical structure of the plant (eg- CBD ratio to THC etc..) rather than the strain. For instance, a strain that is a Sativa with a high CBD content will feel much more like an Indica for example- there is no real telling the difference.

This is important for those who know a lot about Cannabis and are looking for a CBD oil. It would make sense that you would look for an Indica based oil as most people who buy a CBD oil are not looking for it to get them ‘hyped’. So when faced with an overwhelming array of oils that are made with a Sativa, it may be confusing. Some companies make a big deal of which strain they use but at the end of the day, does it really make too much of a difference.

Indica CBD Oil or Sativa CBD Oil?

In the context of recreational cannabis, the different strains and CBD/THC ratios make some kind of sense. As there is a large amount of THC being consumed, the effects of the cannabinoids and other phytochemicals can be instantly felt. In the UK, the only strain that CBD oils should be produced with is the Sativa L but it seems that this doesn’t make too much of a difference to the finished article.

The production of most CBD oils seems to make the strain somewhat irrelevant. Hemp is used in the production of CBD oils due to its high concentration of CBD, and generally, most of the other important chemicals are stripped out or reduced significantly- for legal reasons: According to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (MoDR) 2001 regulation 2, the legal level of THC is 1mg per closed container, irrespective of size. 0.2% THC is the maximum content which is for growers and refers to raw extract.

CBD oils are manufactured (in most cases) to remove THC (and often terpenes too) so the nuances between the strains are almost completely lost. There are some oils that are thick and dark (like our full spectrum 10% CBD Oils) and others do not contain THC at all (like our 2000mgs/20% oil) – each hold a very different experience (in regards to taste, general well-being), but often the same outcome in terms of the way they feel. Some oils are manufactured to contain a carefully constructed profile of Cannabinoids specifically to target particular effects. All of our own oils contain natural plant terpenes so they are getting to work without you even knowing it.

There are lots of Indica CBD oils on the market at the moment, but according to some regulators, these may not be strictly legal. Most notably, Indica CBD oils can be purchased online alongside Sativa CBD oils. The main difference between the two will certainly be their terpene profiles. We currently only sell Sativa CBD oils as we wish to be on the safe side of the coming regulation and enforcement.

Terpenes

Terpenes are a set of aromatics that can have a huge impact on the way the body uses cannabinoids, and have their own array of health and well-being benefits. generally, Terpenes are used during aromatherapy to relax or invigorate your mind and body and are produced by plants and fruits. They are very easily found in lavender, oranges, pepper, hops and in cannabis. Do you like the smell of cannabis, and notice that different strains smell differently? Well, that is all down to the terpene profiles? Some smell citrusy, like pine, berries or fuel. The Terpenes that are most commonly found in cannabis are Mycene, Caryophyllene, Limonene and Terpinolene.

The presence of certain terpenes in your CBD oil can have a huge impact on your experience. Some are very soothing, and others may make you feel stimulated or anxious!

The Terpene profiles found in both Sativa and Indica are largely very similar – the main difference between a Sativa CBD oil and an Indica CBD oil is really down to a high level of Terpinolene in certain Sativa strains. Terpinolene can be found in Nutmeg, Teatree Lilacs, Apples and Cumin.

Although there is plenty of research into terpinolene ongoing: the terpene has been found to contribute to a plethora of well-being outcomes.

What Is Sensimilla?

While Cannabis Indica & Sativa are the most commonly talked about forms of Cannabis, there is another sub-sector of cannabis plants called Sensimilla. Question: is Sensimilla Sativa or Indica? Sensimilla plants can be both! A Sensimilla is simply a female cannabis plant that has been grown without male cannabis plants.

In biology, all plants have a male and female part which are essential for the reproduction of plants. For cannabis, the male plants produce pollen which fertilizes the females- the females produce seeds that drop and germinate to produce new plants. These new plants, however, are of random strains and cannot be controlled.

When cannabis growers want to control the strain, cannabinoid levels and yield of the plants, they tend to remove the male plants from the and keep the ‘pure’ females which are seedless and have higher levels of THC. The Sensimilla plants contain more THC (or CBD depending on the strain), have a greater flower yield and there are no seeds that are produced. This process revolutionized the cannabis industry and the quality of smokable flowers.

Indica Vs Sativa What is the difference between Sativa and Indica is a question we get quite a lot- particularly from previous customers of the CBD brothers/ The Original Alternative or those

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Indica vs Sativa

Indica vs. Sativa: Know Your Cannabis Subspecies

With more than 1,000 strains of cannabis having been bred during the past several decades, it is critical that patients are aware of the different types of efficacy available to them in terms of cannabis medicine. Some varieties of cannabis are most appropriate for particular diseases and ailments, but not others. Choosing the right strain is critical to ensuring that patients receive the best therapy possible.

Cannabis is a species of flowering herb that is split into three subspecies: Indica, sativa, and ruderalis. Ruderalis plants are small and yield relatively little medicine; what they do provide lacks potency and is generally not appealing to patients. Because of this, ruderalis strains are typically avoided by breeders and cultivators; the focus of the medical cannabis community is on indica and sativa strains.

Indica and sativa plants differ not only in their physiological effects, but also in their appearance. Indica plants are short and stocky, featuring leaves that are broad and “chunky.” Sativa plants tend to be taller and skinnier and may even be lanky in appearance, with leaves that are thin and pointed.

Infographic comparing sativa and indica strains.

Medical Efficacy

The most important difference between these two subspecies of cannabis, however, is in their medical effects and how they influence energy levels and productivity. Indicas tend to decrease energy and are better for consumption in the evening or at night, after the conclusion of the day’s work and activities. Potent indica strains may give some patients what is called “couchlock,” a condition in which they become so relaxed that they care barely get up from the sofa.

Sativas, on the other hand, are uplifting and cerebral, enhancing creativity and productivity. Indicas provide what has been called a “body high,” while sativas deliver more of a “mind high.” Unfortunately, sativa plants require longer to grow and yield less medicine (flowers) than indica varieties. This is why indica strains have traditionally dominated those available on the black market, where there is no concern for patient need and the sole focus is profit.

The fact that patients are given no choice of subspecies or strain when purchasing from the black market is a major reason it should be avoided. Patients should never trust or consume cannabis medicine without knowing its exact strain and that it was properly grown, dried, cured, and laboratory tested for purity and potential contamination.

Modern cultivators of medical cannabis purposefully breed and grow a wide spectrum of strains within both the indica and sativa categories for the purpose of making available the right medicine for a particular patient’s unique combination of disease, preference, and lifestyle. Often, patients must maintain jobs or family responsibilities that demand a particular energy level and can’t tolerate the sedative properties of many indicas. Other times, patients must seek the most potent non-opiate painkiller possible. Given the choice of chronic pain or the mellowing effects of a strong indica of a particular strain known for its medical benefits, most patients will choose the latter.

Because cultivators and dispensaries are sensitive to the subjective efficacy of particular strains for different patients, they grow and make available as many strains as possible for targeted ailments. Major conditions of focus include HIV/AIDS, cancer, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, Parkinson’s, all types of arthritis, and epilepsy, among many others.

In terms of particular ailments, sativa strains tend to be better for psychological disorders like depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Indicas are often the best for pain and inflammation and, thus, are beneficial for patients with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and cancer. However, because so many diseases are accompanied by side effects like depression and insomnia, a patient must consider treating both their core disease and also its daily symptoms. In the end, each patient will favor multiple strains that will likely fall within the categories of sativa, hybrid, and indica.

When it comes to aroma, indica strains tend to emit musty, earthy, and skunky odors, while sativas smell sweet, fruity, or spicy. This difference in aroma is the result of terpenes, the molecules within the plant that are cousins to cannabinoids like THC and CBD. While these chemicals provide sometimes stunningly pungent odors, their greatest benefit to patients is actually their medicinal efficacy.

Understanding Hybrids

Hybrids are simply new and unique strains that are bred from parents of different types. A hybrid theoretically possesses many or most of the beneficial medical properties of both its parents. Breeders can “cross” any two strains they desire in an effort to create a new strain that delivers the best possible medical efficacy, sometimes for particular diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and epilepsy.

It should be noted that any two strains can be mixed to create a hybrid. While indica/sativa mixes are common and often noted for their “alert mellowness” and productivity, medical cannabis breeders can also mix indicas with other indicas or use two sativas as parents.

With so many hybrid strains available to patients, many are a compromise that possess the ability to kill pain and fight inflammation while not putting a patient to sleep in the middle of the day. Patients who must medicate in the morning or mid-day, typically for nausea and pain, often prefer a sativa-dominant hybrid, but will switch to an indica-dom strain in the evenings and for maximum pain relief.

Hybrid strains that display more indica than sativa traits are labeled “indica-dom,” while those that lean toward sativa are similarly dubbed “sativa-dom.” Often, strains are labeled with a sativa/indica ratio, like a 60/40 sativa/indica. Other times a strain will indicate only a percentage, such as “70 percent indica” or “80 percent sativa”.

Landrace Strains & Heirlooms

Landrace strains are those that evolved naturally within their native environments. Because they weren’t bred and aren’t hybrids, landrace strains offer a very pure example of sativa or indica, with no interference from humans. In fact, landrace strains are typically 100 percent indica or sativa, the result of tens of thousands of years of inbreeding in a particular weather climate and geography.

Heirlooms are landrace strains that have been grown outside of their native environment, such as plants or seeds professionally grown in Illinois that originated on the other side of the world. While sought for their pure indica or sativa characteristics, such strains lose some of their unique characteristics when grown outside the climate in which they evolved.

Examples of landrace strains include Durban Poison, a sativa from South Africa; Afghan Indica, from Afghanistan; Malawi Gold, a sativa from Southeastern Africa; and Panama Red, a sativa from the country that bears its name.

Landrace sativas appear in Asia, Anatolia, and Northern Africa. These climates provide the long summers and intense sun in which such strains have evolved and adapted to thrive. Indicas are located in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Such strains will not reach their potential if grown within indoor or outdoor conditions that don’t match those of their native environment.

Eastern Europe, the Himalayan region of India, and Siberia are home to ruderalis landrace strains and are among the least desired of these naturally evolved plants. Often, as in the Himalayas, such plants are used to create traditional hand-rolled hash, with impoverished villagers in such regions subsisting on black market sales of the concentrate that eventually appears in smoking cafes throughout Europe.

What Determines Sativa or Indica?

Readers have already learned that the sometimes pungent aromas produced by many strains of cannabis are the result of terpenes, the special molecules in the herb that are similar in many respects to cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

While many might guess that a particular strain of cannabis is categorized as indica, sativa, or hybrid based on the presence or absence of a particular cannabinoid, or a cannabinoid in a particular volume, it is actually a terpene that determines this important status of a strain.

Myrcene, the most common terpene in cannabis, is known to help patients sleep, battling conditions like anxiety and insomnia. If present in a specific strain in a volume greater than 0.5 percent, the strain is considered an indica. If the amount of myrcene is under one half of one percent, then the strain is deemed a sativa.

This dynamic is a good example of the entourage effect, a theory that cannabinoids and terpenes work together in harmony to deliver medicinal efficacy to patients. Many terpenes buffer or enhance the effects of major cannabinoids like THC.

New Strains Constantly Being Created

New strains of cannabis, many of which are hybrids of existing strains that display exceptional analgesic (pain killing) or anti-inflammatory qualities, are being created on a regular basis. While some strains are better at dealing with the nausea associated with chemotherapy (used to treat patients with cancer and Crohn’s, among other diseases), most types of cannabis are very good at this.

With such dramatic differences between indicas and sativas in terms of medicinal efficacy and the experience of the patient, those legally using medical cannabis should work with their physician and dispensary to experiment with various strains that are already known to deliver exceptional benefits to other sufferers, especially those with the same condition.

Patients must strive to find the strains that best deal with their particular disease or ailment and its symptoms, including the side effects of any pharmaceutical drugs or therapies. This is typically not an overnight project and may require months or even years of diligent effort. In fact, patients are encouraged to continually experiment with new strains in search of greater potency or a superior cannabinoid profile that delivers improved relief.
Because this efficacy is so subjective, the advice of other patients can be given only so much weight. The true test of a particular strain of indica or sativa occurs only when used by an individual patient when they most need it, such as during bouts of pain, nausea, or insomnia.

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