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What is Indica Cannabis?

Last Updated: April 06, 2023By Joshua Mezher

Due to the careful cultivation of cannabis strains to create specific genetic characteristics, hybrid strains primarily rule the modern cannabis industry. As a result, most strains blend Sativa and Indica and select the most dominant traits of each. That means there are more hybrid strains than true Cannabis Indica since many of the Indica strains that you see are actually Indica hybrids. In this article, we’ll explain what cannabis Indica really is.

Are Indica and Sativa the same thing?

They aren’t the same, and the difference starts in their origins. Indica strains originate from the Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Indian mountains. The weather in these locations can be rough, and the growing season doesn’t last long. Because of this, Indica strains adjusted to their environment by producing smaller bushy plants. Indica flower grows faster than Sativa once summertime arrives – taking advantage of the longer nights.  

Sativas evolved close to the equator in the northern African and southern Asia region. The climate in these areas is warmer throughout the year; therefore, Sativas tend to grow much taller and slimmer than Indica strains. Sativa strains also take more time to enter the flowering phase.

Things have changed in the marijuana industry since the 1960s- including most strains. Many of the original strains from this period carry the name landrace. Landrace strains feature their original genetics -- that means no tampering from growers to produce the perfect strain. After the 60s, breeders began to create hybrids using the genetics of both Sativa and Indica strains. The combination meant the strain had the benefits of both parents and, in some cases, still offered the original Indica Sativa purity to a certain extent. Landrace Sativa cannabis, unlike Indica, quickly made its way around the world. In contrast, pure cannabis Indica remained confined to Pakistan and Afghanistan’s dry mountains for years. 

Eventually, breeders found ways to make cannabis Indica easier to grow and began creating hybrid forms with other Indica dominant hybrids. So, in some way, hybrid marijuana has preserved a form of pure cannabis Indica. 

Related: What is Cannabis Sativa??

Identifying an Indica Plant

You may be wondering, what’s the difference between Indica and Sativa? They actually have quite a few unique properties. The effects Indica & Sativas have on the mind, body and your health are different and worth exploring.  Indica dominant strains tend to create an intense full-body relief; Sativa-dominant strains will give you an increase in energy.

It is pretty easy to identify different marijuana species by their appearance. When dealing with pure Sativa and Indica, their physical features are quite different. Sativas are known for growing very tall; they can get up to 12 feet in height if grown outside. They also have buds, leaves, and colas that are quite spaced out and grow towards the sky. 

Sativa buds tend to spread out halfway up the plant, making Sativa difficult to grow if you don’t have enough space. Sativa leaves are also pretty thin in comparison to Indicas. The leaves have the typical cannabis leaf appearance that you usually see in images, with a bunch of slender leaves that come together towards the base of the plant. 

Related: 5 Best Strains to Grow for Beginners

Indicas are a lot smaller in size than Sativa plants, usually growing only half the height. They generally grow up to 6 feet. Their leaves are short and stout, unlike Sativa strains. Indica cannabis plants tend to look like evergreen trees, starting with a pointy tip and widening as it gets to the bottom. The base of the plant leaves very little room between it and the soil. 

Indica marijuana buds are typically fuller and thicker than Sativa buds and will create quite a high yield. Indicas are easy to spot because of their broad, bulky, and flat leaves. The leaves do resemble that of the Sativa plant, except they are much larger and broader. 

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two indica nugs in the palm of a hand

Indica vs. Sativa Nugs 

One of the main differences between Sativa and Indica nugs is their smell. Even though CBD and THC play a vital role in the traits of each strain, scents come from something called terpenes. Indica and Sativas have different terpene makeups. 

Researchers at Fundación Canna found that myrcene is a primary terpene found in marijuana strains and that Indica strains contain larger quantities of myrcene, limonene, and camphene. Myrcene is responsible for giving Indicas a sort of musky, earthy smell. Limonene, a chemical found in citrus peels, adds a citrus scent. Camphene has a camphor-like aroma for Indicas.

Sativas contain sabinene, 3-carene, cineole, and terpinolene terpenes. The sweet, citrus, and pine scent that Sativas are known for comes from 3-carene. Sabinene is responsible for the woody smell and taste. The a-Phellandrene terpene is most prominent in eucalyptus and creates a minty citrus scent in Sativas. Cineole has a peppermint-like aroma, while terpinolene has a herbal, flowery fragrance.

The Effects of Indica Strains

Growers must understand what goal they want to accomplish when selecting a strain that is best for them. Indicas have unique traits that set them apart from the Sativa strains. While both have various CBD and THC levels, landrace Indica strains generally have lower THC than Sativas and higher CBD content. Indica-dominant strains give the user a body-focused, couch-lock effect. 

Those preferring a euphoric head high would like Sativas. That said, Indica does create deep states of mental relaxation.

Because of the heavy effects on the body, people usually use Indica at night to relax. 

It also means Indica is an excellent herb for various sleep issues, such as insomnia and sleep apnea. The ability to create a powerful soothing body high makes Indica great for pain relief and reducing anxiety. Indica even helps support an increase in appetite and reduced nausea.  

On the other hand, if you need a blast of energy and creative inspiration to get through your day, Sativa is your best bet. Sativa also affects the mind by improving your ability to focus. This strain will reduce anxiety and increase appetite, similar to Indica. People struggling with depression can find relief using Sativa strains. Unlike Indica dominant strains, this isn’t the best strain to use at night when you are ready to sleep. You might be a little too focused for that. 

Can Indica Help With Anxiety?

Several studies on Indica cannabis discuss its ability to help relieve anxiety and show excellent results, depending on the strain and dosage. However, certain varieties enhance anxiety rather than reduce it.
For instance, if you use Indica at a high dose, your anxiety may increase, but you may achieve a nice calm state of relaxation when taken at a low dose. The trick is knowing which strain has the right chemical makeup and combination of CBD and THC to produce the desired results. There is ample research on what type of cannabis is best for anxiety conditions.

Researchers have also researched which strains successfully reduce anxiety. During a study conducted by Whistler Therapeutics, patients tried different strains and provided feedback on which ones they liked more for their anxiety conditions. Their top four strains were: Skywalker OG Kush, Bubba Kush, Blueberry Lambsbread, and Kosher Kush – all Indica dominant strains. The Whistler Therapeutics study also rated the worst strains for anxiety relief: Chocolope, Green Crack, Tangerine Dream, and CBD Shark, most of which are Sativa dominant.

The Strongest Indica Strains

The great thing about Indica dominant strains is that they naturally produce tons of buds. Potent Indica strains are also highly sought after for their soothing and sedative effects that bring peace of mind. Indica flower is excellent for stress reduction and produces an incredibly blissful high.  Those using marijuana for its medicinal properties will want the most potent Indica flower for intense pain-alleviating abilities. Here are some of the strongest Indica cannabis strains:

Papaya Punch

Papaya Punch is a strong Indica hybrid cannabis strain packing a high THC content of around 20%. It is a blend of Purple Punch and the Papaya strain. This strain is a perfect option for anyone who leads a busy, active lifestyle, including strenuous jobs and athletes who suffer from pain and aching muscles. 

Papaya Punch offers a relaxing, mildly sedative high so you can still go about your day. You can smoke a little bit of this one and still be able to feel calm while you work, run errands, and mingle. Its taste is herb-like and sweet, and it has a cheese and fruit aroma.

Strawberry Banana

This potent, Indica-dominant hybrid strain is a mix between Bubble Gum and Banana Kush.  It is a popular, very high THC strain that provides the most powerful feeling of euphoria because of its genetics.

Strawberry Banana is a good option if you want to avoid a strain that will put you in a fully sedative state. Strawberry Banana is fantastic to consume once you have relaxed at home because it is pretty strong. The effects are profoundly calming and euphoric.

Critical Kush

Critical Kush is an Indica dominant hybrid mix of OG Kush and Critical Mass. Its high THC levels of 20-25% make this strain highly sought after. Highly sedative effects make Critical Kush excellent for stress relief, alleviating chronic pain, and calming anxiety.

Critical Kush produces a quick, high yield with large dense buds. It gives off an exhilarating lemon-like pine aroma.


This Indica-dominant hybrid hails from the Girl Scout Cookies strain. It boasts a THC content of up to 20%

Sherbet is one of the most mood-enhancing Indica strains you can find. It is sure to put you in great spirits, accompanied by a more relaxed, body-centered high.

Is Sativa or Indica Better?

The better question is, what type of high do you want? Or, what medicinal benefits do you want to experience? 
Both Sativa and Indica are amazing strains with plenty of beneficial properties.  Each strain likely has something for everyone, but it is vital to know what to expect beforehand. Knowing the chemical makeup and benefits of the strain will help you determine which one is best for you. Some people prefer higher CBD content, while others seek out high THC weed. It is hard to say which one is best because it depends on the individual’s needs.

If you suffer from chronic pain, severe anxiety, or sleep disorders, you will probably find that Indica works better. Someone in this situation may not get what they are looking for in a Sativa strain.  Of course, some people like to use both, consuming Sativa in the day for energy and a boost of creativity, then wind down at the end of the day with a good Indica strain. Sativa may not give you the complete body high the way Indica can, but if you want a nice, euphoric head high, Sativa is your friend. 

It’s generally a good idea to experiment with both types to better understand what you like. You may find that you prefer to use different strains for different situations. There are also hybrids, which offer a nice blend of Sativa and Indica as well.


1. Is Sour Diesel an Indica or Sativa?

Sour Diesel is a popular Sativa-dominant hybrid strain that is a blend of Super Skunk and Chemdawg. It is also known as “Sour Deez” and “Sour D” and smells like Diesel. 

2. Does Sativa or Indica make you hungry?

When it comes to increasing your appetite, Sativa strains are much more effective. Sativas typically give you the munchies after a good smoke. However, while not as likely to make you hungry, some Indica varieties stimulate appetite, as well.

3. Is Blue Dream Indica or Sativa?

Blue Dream is a Sativa-dominant hybrid cross between Haze and Blueberry. It provides a combination of a mental and body-centered high. The flavor is like sweet berries, and it has a low CBD count with an 18% THC level. 

4. Is Wedding Cake Indica or Sativa?

Wedding Cake is a strong, Indica-dominant hybrid strain created by mixing Animal Mints and Triangle Kush.  The high you get from this one is calming and intoxicating. The flavors are intense and aromatic. This strain is not the best option for people who have a low tolerance for THC. If that is the case for you, you may want to go light on this one.

Related: Step by Step: Simple Delicious Weed Gummies

There is so much to learn about cannabis Indica and Sativa. Whether a first-time grower or someone with plenty of experience, a Pot for Pot has simple kits to help you successfully start growing. You can grow your own marijuana plant with a Pot for Pot and get first-hand experience understanding the difference between Indica and Sativa.

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