What is Indica and Sativa: Cannabis in Phuket

THC and CBD chemical composition

Description: THC and CBD chemical composition


Walking into a cannabis store, you’re usually asked: “Looking for indica or sativa?” These two categories of cannabis might seem like they imply major differences, but what’s the truth behind these classifications? It’s time to demystify these terms and their actual implications.

Getting Down to Basics

1. Where the Names Came From

Sativa: The name “Sativa” first popped up during the Renaissance, thanks to a German botanist named Leonardt Fuchs. A bit later, the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus used it in his book “Species Plantarum.” In Latin, “sativa” means “cultivated,” which tells us this was the type of hemp they were growing in Europe.

Indica: About 30 years after “sativa,” the name “indica” was introduced by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. The Latin word “indica” means “from India,” and this was the type of cannabis commonly found in India, mostly used for hashish.

2. Learning About How They Grow

Sativa: Sativa plants are usually tall, with thin leaves, and take a long time to flower.
Indica: On the other hand, indica plants are shorter, have wide leaves, and flower quite quickly.
The interesting thing is, the look of the plant (how tall it is or how broad its leaves are) doesn’t really tell you about its chemical makeup or how it will affect users.

How They Affect Users: Getting the Facts Straight

People often say,

  • Indica will make you feel relaxed, might make you sleepy, and gives you a full body high.
  • Sativa can lift your mood, give you a burst of energy, and get your creative juices flowing.

But this is oversimplifying things a bit. How a plant looks doesn’t determine what chemicals it has. The effects a user feels have more to do with the chemicals in the plant than what type of plant it is.

The Chemicals: What Really Matters

  1. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol): THC is the main chemical in cannabis that gets you high. It can make you feel euphoric and can help with things like anxiety and pain. But it can also have some unwanted effects.
  2. CBD (cannabidiol): CBD is another chemical in cannabis, but it doesn’t get you high. It can be useful for reducing anxiety, inflammation, and pain. And despite what people might think, indica strains don’t always have more CBD.
  3. Terpenes: Terpenes give cannabis its smell and taste. They’re also thought to play a big part in the different effects users feel, from feeling relaxed to feeling uplifted.

Understanding Today’s Cannabis

In the modern era, the world of cannabis has undergone considerable changes. Many cannabis plants today are hybrids, meaning they are a combination of Indica and Sativa. This hybridization has been carried out over generations to enhance certain desirable traits from each. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to find a “pure” indica or sativa plant. Notably, due to this extensive cross-breeding and cultivation practices, the phenotype or physical traits of a plant don’t always align with its genotype or genetic makeup. This means that the traditional name or place of origin of a cannabis product isn’t always a reliable way to predict its properties or effects. In this context, understanding cannabis requires a shift from focusing on its type to understanding its chemical composition and how this can influence its potential effects on the user.

Description: Mesmerizing cannabis plant full of THC and CBD

A Better Way to Classify: Chemovar

The emergence of the concept of chemovar offers a more sophisticated and accurate way to categorize cannabis strains. This term refers to the chemical variety of a plant, highlighting the significance of its chemical makeup over its physical characteristics or geographical origin. By focusing on the main cannabinoids and terpenes present in a strain, users can develop a more nuanced understanding of what effects they might expect. However, it’s essential to consider the entourage effect. This phenomenon suggests that these chemicals, which include over 145 cannabinoids and 200 terpenes in each strain, work synergistically rather than independently. They interact to create a unique mix of therapeutic benefits, enhancing the overall effect compared to any single compound on its own. This is why it is crucial to look beyond the indica-sativa dichotomy when choosing a cannabis product.

Don’t Forget the Third Type: Cannabis Ruderalis

While Indica and Sativa are the most well-known types of cannabis, there exists a third type called Cannabis Ruderalis that often gets overlooked. Native to areas such as Siberia and the northern Himalayas, Ruderalis is a hardy, auto-flowering type of cannabis. It is known for its ability to flower based on age rather than light conditions, which is not the case with Indica and Sativa plants. While Ruderalis doesn’t usually contain high amounts of THC, it has become popular in breeding programs because of its auto-flowering trait. By crossbreeding Ruderalis with other types, breeders can develop strains that automatically flower after a certain period of time, making the growing process more manageable.


The debate about indica vs. sativa keeps going, but what’s really important for users to know is the chemical makeup of cannabis. Especially in places like Phuket, where lots of tourists visit, it’s better to make choices based on the chemical makeup of a strain, rather than just its name. So next time you’re in a cannabis store, remember to look past the indica-sativa divide and explore the richness of cannabis based on what it’s really made of.

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