Marijuana Guide: Understanding Indica Strains

image of cannabis indica stains

Marijuana Guide: Understanding Indica Strains

The cannabis world is yet to reach a consensus on what it is that scientifically separates cannabis sativa, indica, ruderalis and hybrid strains, with some suggesting that the current means of identification is too primitive for such a complex plant. As more world governments relax their controls on cannabis, more research is being funded to discover what we can about its benefits and effects on the human body and psyche. Recent studies suggest that the 100+ cannabinoids other than THC and CBD, terpenes, flavonoids and even our own endocannabinoid system play far more important roles in dictating the effects of different strains. This guide will present what we know about indica strains of weed so far, but be aware that in the coming years we may see a complete shift in the way that we describe the plant and its different characteristics.

How to Spot an Indica Strain by Eye

Indica strains originate from Turkey, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, and they’re hardy plants that have acclimatized to harsh mountain conditions. Whilst this makes them strong in some respects, it does mean that they are less defended against heat than sativa strains. Indica plants are shorter and squatter than sativa plants, offering much bushier growth. The leaves are chunky, wider and broader than sativa leaves, and the plants tend to produce more buds than sativas. Indicas grow faster than sativas, but not as fast as ruderalis (which grows so fast that the plant’s potency is affected). Their leaves are of a deeper green than sativas, which combined with their stockier physique leads some to say the plants are altogether more attractive to look at than sativa strains.

What Are the Effects of Indica Strains?

In general, indica plants are much higher in CBD than sativas, and much lower in THC. This leads to less of a cerebral high and much more of a relaxing one, with users often feeling somewhat opposite effects to sativa strains. In combination with their relaxing qualities, indica strains are reportedly much better for pain relief – perhaps due to their higher concentrations of CBD. Indicas tend to be good at resolving stomach issues and nausea, and can also improve appetite. The calming and sedative effects of cannabis indica consumption can lead to a decrease in physical motivation, or ‘couch lock’ as it is more widely known. Unlike cannabis sativa, indica strains are not recommended for daytime use (unless you have nothing to do!), with most users preferring their indicas at night time, to assist with winding down from the day, and getting to sleep. Muscle spasms are reduced through indica consumption, which relaxes the muscles and also reduces inflammation. CBD is being investigated across the globe for its benefits in managing pain, and many are being introduced to cannabis’ therapeutic benefits through CBD extracts and infused edibles. However, recent research suggests that the ‘entourage effect’ renders CBD significantly more effective when consumed alongside a small amount of THC. It is for this reason that most cannabis experts will only recommend full spectrum cannabis product or natural flower, with regards to the plant’s medicinal uses and benefits. The naturally lower levels of THC in indica strains act as buffers for the higher CBD content, and scientists believe that this entourage effect carries over into the relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant, with specific terps amplifying or negating the effects of different cannabinoids.

What Indica Strains Are Available?

Northern Lights, Forbidden Fruit and Bubba Kush are three of the more easily recognizable indica strains, but there are many more. Indicas tend to be the more popular strains due to their medicinal value as well as their ‘high’, and you can identify them by name in a lot of cases. This subspecies of cannabis originates, some say, in the Hindu Kush mountains, and as such there are many strains which have taken on the ‘Kush’ name. As with all other subspecies of cannabis, indicas can be consumed in all of the ways with which you are familiar, and can be treated (in consumption) exactly as you would treat any other cured cannabis bud.

Things to Note When Growing Indica Strains

Indica strains are far more manageable for first time growers than sativas, and they offer a better yield for a shorter overall life cycle. Indicas rarely grow over six feet tall, making them easier to hide, and easier to monitor the quality of throughout the growth and flowering periods. Growth periods can be as low as 8 weeks, and the plants are quick to flower. Watch out for funghi growing on buds that are exposed to early autumn rain – there are ways to prevent funghi developing, both natural and chemical. Their diminutive size in comparison to the sativa plants that tower over them makes indicas a good choice for growing indoors, although their adaptation to harsher climates may result in them being more vulnerable to the high temperatures caused by grow lights.

Using Indica Strains in Everyday Life

Indicas are popular amongst medical patients for their higher CBD content, and amongst recreational users for their body-hitting high that can sometimes quite literally knock someone out. For these reasons, they tend to be used in the evening and night time, when people have less to do and more time to relax.

As more research is conducted and released regarding the differences between cannabis subspecies, more information is becoming available about the relationship cannabinoids share with the rest of the plant. Some experiments have suggested that when blinded, participants are unable to tell the difference between indica and sativa judging only on their effects. This suggests that there is some other way to measure and predict the effects of cannabis than these rudimentary categories, which some believe have become outdated. However, until modern scientists are able to pin down what it actually is that defines cannabis highs from each other, our current modes of organisation will have to suffice! Cannabis indica, sativa, ruderalis and hybrid strains will continue to be advertised as such until new terminology emerges to describe the plant more accurately.

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