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What is Indica?

What is Indica?

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In the cannabis universe, it would seem that you only have two choices: indica or sativa. These subspecies are like two sides of the same coin; the first is relaxing and calming, while the second is more energizing.

You may already be familiar with the terminology, but have you ever really dug deep into the question, "What's an Indica?"

There is no time like the present! Below, we explore Indica's origins and effects and even highlight a few of our favorite Indica strains.

What Does Indica Mean?

CBD in hemp, vegetation marijuana plants, cannabis cultivation, marijuana leaves green background, Growing indica cannabis,

Let's start with the basics: Cannabis Sativa L. is a plant species with diverse subspecies, including both hemp and marijuana types. 

Although technically the same species, U.S. law defines plants with more than a 0.3 percent concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC) as marijuana, while everything with under 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC is hemp. Hemp-type plants were legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Despite the legal classification of Cannabis Sativa L., strains have long been placed into three distinct categories: indica, sativa, or hybrid. While there is some argument about whether pure indicas and sativas exist anymore due to extensive cross-breeding, these categories remain culturally important for classifying cannabis based on a strain’s genetic heritage, effects, and physical traits.

When it comes to Indica, the term comes from the Latin word for "India," where these varieties were first identified. Its use dates as far back as 1785, when botanist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck categorized cannabis indica and sativa as distinct species from Cannabis Sativa L.

Today, our understanding has evolved somewhat, and scientists now consider indica and sativa simply as subspecies.

What's the Difference Between Indica and Sativa?

scientist checking on organic cannabis hemp plants in a weed greenhouse.

The difference between indica and sativa boils down to their effects, lineage, physical traits, and terpene profiles. Despite the ongoing scientific debate about the validity of these labels, you'll find that most people still prefer to talk about cannabis strains as either indica or sativa.

Indica vs. Sativa: Effects

Indica strains are believed to produce sleepier and calmer effects compared to sativa strains. Sativas tend to have more uplifting, energetic, and social effects. 

Just keep in mind that their effects aren't set in stone when it comes to sativa vs. indica. Everyone's response to cannabis is different, and effects can vary between people. Plus, most options today are technically hybrid strains, which means there is no guarantee that the Indica-dominant strain you've picked up will produce the effects you're expecting.

Indica vs. Sativa: Terpenes

Indicas tend to smell grassy, earthy, and gassy, while sativas lean into sweeter, fruity aromas. Recent research has discovered that indica strains often contain higher levels of the terpene called myrcene, while sativas contain more interesting herbal terpenes like farnesene and bergamotene.

Indica vs. Sativa: Physical Features

Indica plants grow shorter and bushier than sativas. They also typically have a shorter flowering cycle, which may be a lingering adaptation from their homeland's cooler, harsher climates high up in the Hindu Kush mountains.

What Are the Effects of Indica?

young asian man sleeping peacefully on his couch

As mentioned above, indicas are known to offer a sleepy and relaxing mind-and-body experience. But what you experience from an indica could be quite different from someone else. Always start low and go slow as you familiarize yourself with new products.

What Does Indica Do to You?

Indicas are thought to help relax and unwind, so many people turn to indicas to help them slow down, turn off, and get to sleep. Known for causing stronger bodily effects and encouraging introspection, you'll probably want to save indica strains for quiet evenings at home rather than when socializing with friends.

Does Indica Make You Sleepy?

Many people find that indicas encourage sleepiness, which is why most save these strains for nighttime use. But this effect isn't just because of the indica label. Instead, it's likely because of the unique mix of cannabinoids and terpenes

Traditionally, indica flower has a higher level of CBD than sativa flower, with a close to 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD. But is the higher level of CBD the cause of indica's relaxing effect? 

Renowned cannabis researcher and neurologist, Ethan Russo M.D., doesn't seem to think so. In a 2016 interview published in the journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid research, Dr. Russo shared that "the sedation of the so-called indica strains is falsely attributed to CBD content when, in fact, CBD is stimulating in low and moderate doses! Rather, sedation in most common Cannabis strains is attributable to their myrcene content... In contrast, a high limonene content (common to citrus peels) will be uplifting on mood..." 

Does Indica Make You Hungry?

It's not just indicas that make you hungry– you may experience the munchies from any strains containing any level of THC. The reason is that THC binds to and activates CB1 cannabinoid receptors in areas of your brain that regulate hunger hormones, like ghrelin and leptin. 

Is Indica an Upper or a Downer?

Because indicas tend to be more relaxing than sativas, you'll often hear them referred to as downers. But this isn't to say indicas are depressing. It's just a descriptor for the sleepier nature of these strains, especially when compared to their more energetic sativa counterparts.

Which is Stronger: Indica or Sativa?

When it comes to cannabis, strength has nothing to do with whether it's an indica or a sativa strain. Instead, it's about the CBD to THC ratio. The more THC and the lower the CBD, the stronger the psychoactive effects. But, again, not everyone has the same tolerance for THC. You may only need a few milligrams to feel the euphoric effects, while your best friend could need 25 mg or more.

What Are the Best Times to Enjoy Indica Strains?

young african american man getting ready for bed

With indicas leaning into soothing, relaxing vibes, the best time to enjoy these effects is in the evenings. Nothing beats an indica for helping release tension and daily stress, whether it's in the form of a gummy after dinner or an after-work vape session.

But if your favorite indica calls your name throughout the day, don't let this schedule hold you back. Part of the joy of cannabis is finding products that work for you.

The Best Indica Strains 

With such a big world of indica options, you’re spoiled for choice. If you aren't sure where to start, here are a few of our favorites to kick off your indica era.

Thanks to their mellow, chilled-out effects and flavorful terpene profile, these three have made it to the top of our list.

White Rhino Strain

White Rhino is an Indica-dominant hybrid strain bred from a cross between White Widow and a long-unknown indica genetic. It is believed to have Afghan, Brazilian, and Indian landrace cultivars in its lineage.

Thanks to the terpenes myrcene, caryophyllene, and terpinolene,  White Rhino has an earthy, woody, and herbal aroma, often with a hint of mint and vanilla at the finish.

Northern Lights Strain

Northern Lights is one of the most iconic and beloved indica strains. This award-winning indica-dominant variety is a cross between an Afghani indica and a Thai sativa landrace strain, which has led to around 95 percent indica and 5 percent sativa characteristics. The top terpenes in the Northern Lights strain are terpinolene, myrcene, and caryophyllene, delivering a deeply earthy and piney aroma with hints of spice.

Northern Lights is available in our Canna-Classic THC + CBD Gummies and our Canna-Classic Delta-9 Gummies.

Granddaddy Purple Strain

Granddaddy Purple, aka GDP or Grand Daddy Purps, is a legendary indica-dominant strain from Purple Urkle and Big Bud genetics. Some sources suggest it may also have Mendo Purps, Skunk, and Afghan landrace cultivars in its lineage.

Its terpene profile contains myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, pinene, and linalool, which means you'll get a distinctly sweet grape and berry aroma with earthy, skunky undertones.

The combination of our award-winning blueberry flavor and Granddaddy Purple strain is available in our Delta-9 Live Rosin Gummies and Delta-9 Live Rosin Gummies with CBD. You can also enjoy the unique terps of GDP in our 2-gram THCA Liquid Diamond and Live Resin Disposable.

What's Your Favorite Type of Cannabis? Finding Your Chill with Indica

live rosin canna classics gdp package with gummy on night stand

Out of all the strains of cannabis that exist today, indicas are the right choice for total relaxation. Their powerfully soothing nature makes them the perfect partner for calming your mind and easing daily tension. Indicas are the totally chilled-out option for those moments when you only need to sink blissfully into a state of serenity.

Here’s to finding your chill, and until next time, mind your mind.

FDA Disclaimer: The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.

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