Sativa vs Indica: Ultimate Guide to Marijuana Strains

Sativa and Indica are two primary strains of the cannabis plant. Read to learn the important characteristics of these two marijuana strains.

How do you know which marijuana strain is right for you?

If you’re looking to smoke marijuana, you’ll quickly find that there are many different types or strains to choose from. This is a great thing for cannabis enthusiasts as they have many different options available at every dispensary. But for those of you new to the game it could be intimidating to choose from the various strains, and even more intimidating to ask the guy at the dispensary.

However, no need to fear asking the simple questions. Our guide will give you the low-down on the different marijuana strains and how to determine which is right for you.

What Is a Marijuana Strain?

If you are fairly new to the whole idea of using cannabis, either recreationally or medicinally, and you walk into a dispensary, you’ll probably be blown away by all the options that line the shelves. The fact is, there are hundreds of strains of marijuana, with names like Sour Diesel, OG Kush, and Chocolope, and each one originates from a specific genus of the cannabis plant.

There are three primary strains, and the different strains of cannabis are specifically cultivated to nurture certain qualities and create a range of desirable attributes. For example, some strains are desirable because of their high THC content while some strains are preferred because of their flavor, much like the different types of tobacco. This is where all those wonderful, humorous, entertaining and sometimes telling, marijuana strain names come from.

What Are the Different Marijuana Strains?

The latest estimate pins down at least 779 different unique strains, and that number only continues to grow as cannabis cultivators experiment with growing and cross-pollinating different plants to come up with new varieties. However, there are some popular strains of marijuana that remain pretty steady in the industry, and all of them can be categorized as either Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid plants.

Understanding the specifics of the multiple strains comes down to understanding the three primary types of cannabis plants.


Indica cannabis plants are known to be the powerful high-THC plants that offer a specific type of effect that’s more commonly associated with marijuana. Indica offers a physical body high, which works well for people looking for relief from extreme pain or restlessness. These strains will induce a more calming experience, oftentimes leaving you planted on the couch in a total state of relaxation. A few of the top indica strains include:

  • Blueberry Kush
  • Hindu Kush
  • Hawaiian Delight
  • Pure Afghan
  • Sensi Star


Sativa cannabis plants are the polar opposite of the high-THC indicas. Sativa strains tend to offer a more euphoric, cerebral high, which makes it good for people who don’t want to be sitting on the couch and those who wish to use marijuana while remaining productive. Most people who opt for sativas are looking for more stimulating, uplifting effects that help them feel energized and ready to face the day. A few of the more popular sativa strains include:

  • Sour Diesel
  • Super Silver Haze
  • Strawberry Cough
  • Maui
  • Lemon Haze


Hybrid cannabis plants are blended to have traits of both sativa and indica plants. Hybrids can either take on more traits of the sativa parent or the indica parent, so you can get a wide range of different effects depending on the particular parent strains. For example, an indica-dominant cannabis may give you a cerebral high, but also leave you in a total state of relaxation. A few of the more popular hybrid strains include:

  • White Widow
  • Girl Scout Cookies
  • Northern Lights
  • OG Kush
  • AK-47

What Are the Benefits of Each Marijuana Strain?

Each strain of marijuana offers certain traits that make it preferable for a certain user. Understanding the benefits of different strains, the more equipped you’ll be to find a strain that works best for your needs. While every strain has its own qualities, you can get a lot of information just by looking at the benefits of the primary parent strain.

Benefits of Indica

  • Ideal for the treatment of chronic pain because of high levels of CBD or Cannabidiol
  • Offers relief from nausea
  • Provides heavy sedative effects for those who struggle with sleep disorders
  • Creates a concentrated body high for ultimate relaxation

Benefits of Sativa

  • Provides relief for behavioral illnesses such as ADHD and OCD
  • Stimulates the appetite, which is good for chemotherapy patients
  • Boosts focus and possibly creativity levels
  • Increases serotonin levels in the brain for a euphoric feeling  

Benefits of Hybrids

  • Provides a healthy and varied mix of bodily and cerebral effects
  • Works for people with illnesses that create a range of bodily and emotional symptoms
  • Allows users to pick a more customized experience that better fits their personal usage goals

Do Different Cannabis Strains Taste Differently?

Different cannabis strains can have different flavors when smoked, but not all users will pick up on the flavor variances. Some strains have a more fruity flavor, while others can have a more sour and skunky taste. Take Lemon Haze for example, which is known to have a slight note of citrus, or Blueberry Kush, which is known for its sweet aromatics and flavor notes. The difference in flavors with different strains comes from three different things:

  1. How and where the plant was grown, geographically speaking.
  2. What type of plant it is.
  3. How the plant was harvested and cured by the cultivator.

Additionally, cannabis strains can taste differently according to how they are consumed. For example, cannabis smoked from a pipe will resemble more of the plant’s true flavor than cannabis rolled in a paper or wrapper. Furthermore, cannabis that is integrated into consumables will probably not have much detectable flavor at all.

Which Strain of Marijuana Is Right for You?

With so many different marijuana strains out there, each offering its own benefits, traits, and effects for the mind and body, it can be difficult to pick the right strain for yourself as a new user. The goal is to have the best experience possible so you can appreciate the tremendous advantages of legal cannabis, but picking the wrong strain may give you the wrong impression or not address your specific needs. However, there are three questions you can ask yourself to help you pick your first strains to try:

  1. What type of high will you prefer?
  2. What ailments are you trying to relieve?
  3. What effects sound most desirable?

With a little knowledge of the differences between indicas, sativas, and hybrids, you are well on your way to picking a marijuana product you’re going to enjoy. If you walk into a dispensary and feel a little lost among the choices,  ask for a little guidance from the dispensary employees. But there is also no harm in experimenting a little with different strains, and this is a surefire way to find at least one (probably more) that you prefer.

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