If you’re new to medical cannabis treatment, odds are you aren’t familiar with the difference between cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. And we don’t blame you — medical cannabis is a complex plant with many different components that have a range of psychoactive effects. However, the good thing about this is that the wide spectrum of marijuana strains allows you to customize your medical cannabis treatment to serve your unique needs.

Understanding Indica And Sativa

Cannabis indica and cannabis sativa are the two main subspecies of the cannabis plant, each with significantly different effects on the mind and body. At your medical marijuana dispensary, you’ve probably seen a range of medical marijuana strains that are broken into these two groups, as well as some that are labeled “hybrid.” These categorizations allow patients to discern what species of cannabis plant the product came from, as well as what type of “high” they will experience when they consume it.

Cannabis Indica

Physically, the cannabis indica plant is much shorter and broader than cannabis sativa, with wide leaves. They tend to grow faster and produce more “bud” than cannabis sativa, and they tend to have a higher ratio of CBD (the non-psychoactive compound) to THC (the psychoactive compound. So what does this mean? Cannabis indica is known for its relaxing effects, both mental and physical, rather than being overly mentally stimulating. It releases dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for regulating movement, focus, and emotional responses in the pleasure center of the brain.

Other benefits of indica include acute pain relief, decreased nausea, and an increase in appetite, and it is also known as a natural sleep aid. Perfect for nighttime use, sativa indica is often used by medical marijuana patients whose pain and discomfort prevents them from eating, keeping food down, and sleeping through the night. If you are looking for a slightly sedative, calming effect, you might want to give cannabis indica a try.

Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis sativa differs from cannabis indica in a number of ways. Physically, the cannabis sativa plant is tall and has narrower leaves, which are typically lighter in color than those of the cannabis indica plant. These particular plants grow at a slower rate and need more natural light in order to mature and produce a significant amount of flower. They also have less CBD and a higher concentration of THC, making sativa strains more energizing.

Sativa strains increase serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating mood, stress/anxiety, appetite, sleep, and cognition. It has less of a sedative effect than cannabis indica, making it great for daytime use. The main benefits of cannabis sativa include chronic pain relief, mood elevation, increased attention, and greater creativity. If you are suffering from PTSD or any other serious mental illness, cannabis sativa might be a better choice for you.

Hybrid Cannabis Strains

As with any other crop, new subspecies of cannabis have been created by breeding strains of cannabis indica with strains of cannabis sativa. You’ll find that most indica-heavy strains have a 80-20 or 70-30 ratio of indica to sativa, while sativa-heavy strains are the opposite. 50-50 hybrid strains are also available, with equal amounts of sativa and indica. If you’ve tried pure indica and pure sativa strains and you’re looking for a more customized treatment option, choose the one you like the most and experiment with hybrid strains that have more of that subspecies. And, if you aren’t a fan of the psychoactive effects of medical marijuana, you might want to try pure CBD products instead.

Learn About Medical Marijuana Strains At Medical Cannabis Outreach

Interested in learning more about the difference between indica and sativa? Visit Medical Cannabis Outreach today to speak with one of our clinicians about the different strains of medicinal marijuana. We have medical cannabis clinics in Savoy, Pekin, Chicago, Harrisburg, Shelbyville, and Wood River, IL, as well as Chesterfield, MO and Loveland, CO.