The popularity of indica strains continues to soar as cannabis users find favor with the hard-hitting, relaxing qualities indica provides. Unlike the stimulating, motivational high that defines the sativa experience, indica use is calming and provides a great way to wind down after a busy day. Those who prefer it know exactly what to expect from a good indica, and many of them avoid sativa altogether because of its racy effects and the anxiety it sometimes creates—which is unpleasant and anything but relaxing. For these cannabis users, sativa just won’t do. They’re looking for something quite different.
When you consider the origins of indica strains, it’s easier to understand their differences from sativa. Indica originally came from entirely different areas of the world than sativa. The plants differ in appearance as well, with sativa having thin leaves and reaching lofty heights compared to indica, which has wide leaves and a stocky plant structure. Sativa also tends to be a brighter, lighter green color, while indica often is a deeper, darker green.
Like sativa strains, indica strains are a species within the genus Cannabis. The two species names are now in such widespread use today that they’ve also become the common names for these two major varieties of marijuana. The species name indica literally translates as “from India,” since India is the area where the first plants were collected and described in scientific literature by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785. Since then, the species was also found in Afghanistan, where it has been used extensively for the production of hashish.
The Indica Effect
Both recreational and medical cannabis users enjoy indica for many of the same reasons. The relaxed, euphoric, and sedative effects can be quite pleasant. For many users, smoking or vaping a fine indica is similar to relaxing with a glass of wine, brandy, or scotch. It’s a rewarding practice to consume indica after putting in a long day at work.
While some cannabis enthusiasts always prefer indica over sativa and frequently enjoy it as a “wake and bake” activity, indica will not promote the desire to get out and engage in physical activities like swimming or hiking—or merely shopping or running errands—like sativa will. Indica consumption will usually result in a “couch lock” effect, leaving the user perfectly satisfied to stay indoors and do nothing more adventurous than watch a movie. For this reason, smoking indica is a fantastic day-ending treat—much like enjoying a snifter of fine brandy.
Medical patients rely on indica for relief from a wide range of conditions. Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy reach for indica when they need pain relief or an appetite stimulant. Those with insomnia find that indica provides all they need for a good night’s sleep and eliminates the need for sleeping pills. Those who battle glaucoma find that it decreases eye pressure and the blinding effects of this debilitating ocular disease.
Women find regular use for it to minimize menstrual pains. Epileptic users have dramatically decreased or eliminated the seizures they once had while relying on opioid drugs—and anyone who pus attention to national news knows that our country is going through an opioid epidemic, with the incidents of fatal overdoses rising at an alarming rate. And there is increasing evidence that indica benefits a wide range of physical conditions and diseases, ranging from diabetes to migraine headaches. Cannabis-infused masks with indica have been shown to help with acne and oily skin.
If you ask someone who loves cannabis if they prefer indica or sativa, most of the time you’ll hear a simple, straightforward answer declaring one or the other as the person’s favorite. Experienced cannabis users who are thoroughly familiar with the effects of both species may answer the question quite differently, with a comment like, “There’s a time and a place for each one.”
Since it’s difficult to speak in absolutes with cannabis, this response makes a lot of sense. The same person who wakes up on a weekend and smokes some sativa right before breakfast will find the motivation to go hiking or head out to go shopping at a farmer’s market. After dinner that night, this same person might find intense enjoyment and relaxation from an indica while they watch the latest popular movie. The timing of when they decided to partake in sativa and indica that day can make all the difference for a rewarding cannabis experience.
Popular Indica Strains
Fortunately, indica strains cover a broad range of flavors, with some subtle and not so subtle differences to their effects. In today’s modern cannabis age, saying that indicas will relax and sativas will motivate is a bit overly simplistic, although somewhat true. The best way to accurately determine the effect a specific indica will have on you is to have it tested and analyze its unique cannabinoid and terpene profile.
Cannabinoids and terpenes interact in specific ways, maximizing or minimizing the effects of each depending on the specific compounds and ratios that exist. This “entourage effect” is becoming a widely studied science in itself, with a wide range of effects and applications for huge and growing portfolio of popular strains. The interaction of various cannabis compounds has impacted the legal marijuana industry to the point that some indicas act like sativas and vice versa.
These days, nearly all commercial cannabis strains are hybrids that are either indica-dominant or sativa-dominant. There are comparatively few strains that are pure indicas or sativas, and even these pure landrace examples, like Afghani or Durban Poison, may have been tinkered with slightly to alter them based on the desires of the cultivator.
Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, and high amounts are found in certain indicas. Also known as the “couch lock terpene,” myrcene is found in high concentrations in popular indicas like Bubba Kush, Master Kush, and Northern Lights, which, although quite differing in aroma and flavor, also contain rich levels of the terpene pinene. These strains will ensure a restful, relaxing experience. Other indica strains guaranteed to send you into relaxing, restful bliss include Girl Scout Cookies, Tahoe OG, and Granddaddy Purple. While most indica strains will help with sleep in varying degrees, these are guaranteed to give you a knockout effect soon after your head hits the pillow.
The wide range of indica strains and their seemingly endless enticing flavors ensures that there’s a selection of them that will entice your palate and mood. Some of the more popular indicas that are worthy of your attention include God Bud, Hash Plant, Hindu Kush, Blueberry, Big Bud, Hindu Kush, Maple Leaf Indica, Sensi Star, Purple Urkle, Afgooey, Grape Ape, Critical Mass, G13, Rockstar, Chocolate Chunk, LA Confidential, Super Skunk, Romulan, White Rhino, Deathstar OG, and Mango. With a little looking at your local dispensaries, you should be able to find at least a few of these tried-and-true strains.
A high-quality indica strain is a powerful thing. Relaxing and powerful, indica has a wide range of recreational and medical uses. Sample a few, and most likely you will want to try more to decide your short list of favorites. Like potato chips, it’s hard to settle for just one!