Indica / Sativa -
What does it mean?
A common conversation people have about cannabis is whether they prefer Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid strain varieties, and the feelings and flavors traditionally associated with each strain type. The terms Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid are actually indicators of the kind of plant, its growing style, its bud and leaf structure, and the location on earth the plant originated from. Indica and Sativa are actually types of landrace strains, meaning they are varieties of cannabis that have developed over time in their natural environment without being crossed with other varieties. Three types of landrace cannabis strains have been identified; Ruderalis, Indica, and Sativa.
Ruderalis is a landrace variety that is rarely, if ever, seen in dispensaries as it is not rich in highly sought after THC. When it is present in the modern cannabis industry it is for breeding with other strain types. Ruderalis plants are short and small, rich in CBD, very low yielding, and are “autoflowering” with an extremely short flowering cycle. Ruderalis developed in the harsh
and rugged mountainous environment of Central/Eastern Europe, Asia, and Russia.
Indica plant varieties originate from the cool and dry mountainous regions of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Tibet, and Nepal. Indica plants are short and bushy with thick leaves and minimal space on the branches between the buds. The dried buds from Indica plants are tight, round, and dense.
Sativa varieties originated in the sunny and moist equatorial regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America. Sativa plants are tall with skinny leaves and plenty of space between the nodes. The dried buds of Sativa plants are fluffy, loose, and elongated.
When a landrace Sativa variety is bred with a landrace Indica variety the result is what we call a Hybrid strain in the modern cannabis industry. Hybrid varieties can display characteristics of both its Sativa and Indica parents.
Higher Grade Hybrid Varieties - Animal Mints, Cookies & Cream, M.A.C.
Over time, humans bred and manipulated landrace cannabis varieties to produce strains that have a desired bud structure, flavor or aroma, environmental resiliencies, medicinal value, or psychoactive potency. These are known as heirloom strains. The majority of cannabis strains available today are hybridized varieties that come from landrace and heirloom strains being bred together over time to produce flowers with desired characteristics. A true Indica or Sativa strain is extremely rare today, and it is safe to assume that almost every strain is a Hybrid. Often the characteristics of one of the types of landrace strains in its lineage will be more dominant than the other.
If we understand every strain to essentially be a hybrid, then the conversation about the traditionally reported effects of cannabis must expand. For centuries people have associated certain effects with consuming landrace Sativa and Indica strains. Traditionally Indica strains have been associated with the heavy “stoned” feeling that smoking cannabis is widely known for. Indica consumers have reported feeling deep body relaxation and noticed relief from chronic pain, anxiety, muscle spasms, and insomnia. Sativa strains are traditionally associated with a cerebral energetic “high” that encourages creativity and productivity. Sativa consumption has been said to bring relief from ailments like migraines, depression, nausea, pain, and lack of appetite.
Because modern cannabis includes a vast array of hybridized landrace and heirloom varieties, we must look deeper than the type of plant to really examine what’s behind the flavor profiles, feelings, and effects we appreciate and desire. Research is still very limited due to federal prohibition of cannabis; however, we are able to confirm that it is the Phyto-chemically rich nature of cannabis that responsible for the flavor, aroma, feelings, and reported medicinal value.