For anyone with even a passing interest in marijuana, be it medical or recreational, the two most common strains of are common knowledge: indica and sativa. What may be more difficult to discern, however, is which one is more beneficial for medicinal uses. Almost all current information is strictly anecdotal, but each strain does possess certain qualities that may steer consumers to their desired effect. Sativa is the larger of the two, possessing tall and leggy leaves that are usually rather sparse. While a sativa can be tall and round, it is typically long and lanky with thin leaves, while indica will grow in short bushy plants, almost having the appearance of a small shrub.
Of course, most people don’t consume cannabis for the looks, but for the effects. For those in search of large-scale pain relief or a sleep aid, indica strains will be the most common and beneficial choice. The high from indica has been noted as a comforting buzz that fills the entire body, offering calm relaxation and relief from stress. There do exist varieties of indica high in THC, which can push the effects from pleasant daze to an almost trance-like “couchlock” experience. Whereas indicas induce calming and peaceful effects, sativas sit at the other end of the spectrum, offering a high of optimistic thinking and neurological wellbeing. Sativa’s ability to make one more energetic or uplifted allows it to provide targeted pain relief rather than an all-encompassing effect. Much like indica’s more pure forms, a pure strain of sativa will possess a high THC content, which can trigger hallucinogenic effects. In terms of effectiveness, indicas are generally recommended for nocturnal use while sativas are considered to be at their best during the day, allowing one to function normally but still get relief from their pain.
Due to intense crossbreeding (both manmade and natural), the cannabis one receives from a dispensary is not either pure sativa or indica, but a hybrid of the two which can range widely in terms of how much of each strain is present within the plant. This allows treatment of a wider range of patients and conditions, because there is no one perfect strain of cannabis that can suit every patient’s needs.