There are two main types of cannabis: indica and sativa. How do you tell them apart, and why choose one over the other? The physical dissimilarities are pretty easy to notice and relatively straightforward. The differences in how the types of cannabis affect the body, however, are more complex. Understanding the differences will help cannabis users determine the best species of medicine to treat various conditions.
Indica vs. Sativa (Appearance)
The easiest way to distinguish indica from sativa is by appearance, which is what scientists call morphology. Indica plants are densely branched, short, and have wider leaves. They are typically grown indoors and produce flowers that are heavier looking than their sativa counterparts and more fragrant. Indica flowers, or buds, tend to grow in clusters.
Sativa plants are loosely branched, tall, and have narrow leaves. They’re mostly grown outdoors and can become as tall as 25 feet. It’s often easy to tell a sativa bud by its fruit and sweet smell, as well as its bright color.
Indica and Sativa: Effects on the Body
There are no scientific studies confirming the differences in how indica and sativa affect the body, or that they even affect the body in specific ways. Yet, many believe they do impact users in varying ways.
Indica is perceived to be relaxing and calming. It’s often thought to be best for night use for this reason. Sativa should be used when one wants to feel uplifted and energized. It’s said to produce a cerebral and hallucinogenic effect that can make a person feel a bit spacey. Both are good uses for medical marijuana.
The Genetic Difference Between Indica and Sativa
Scientists do have theories regarding the differences between indica and sativa, based on genetics. One of the top theories focuses on genetic production of CBD and THC. Plants with high levels of THC have gene codes for THCA synthase, an enzyme. THCA synthase converts CBG to THCA, which then becomes THC when introduced to heat. These plants are usually indica.
Some plants, however, express gene codes for CBDA synthase, also an enzyme. In these plants, CBDA converts CBG to CBDA (which is the precursor of CBD), and they’re distinguished as sativa. Based on these scientific theories, indica plants have a higher THC to CBD ratio.
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Here is an interesting take from our friends at HelloMD for your viewing pleasure :)