If you’re familiar with the world of cannabis products, you probably already know that many products and strains are classified as being a certain “type” of cannabis: indica, sativa, or hybrid. Following that, you may be confused or frustrated that hemp CBD products don’t seem to abide by the same rules. In this article we will discuss the practical differences between indica and sativa, and how they apply to the hemp CBD world.
Note: This article does not discuss the physical growth/appearance differences between indica and sativas as subspecies.
Indica, Sativa, and Hybrids
Indica products are commonly known for their ability to make you relaxed, sedated, or even sleepy. Most often remembered by the phrase, “In-da-couch”, meaning that indicas leave you “in the couch” and stationary. They’re usually associated with a “body high” when consumed as products containing appreciable psychoactive amounts of THC.
Sativas are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Sativas are commonly known for their uplifting, invigorating feelings promoting a creative outlook. Often chosen for their ability to give you a “head high”, they are a common choice for those wishing to remain active with no sedating side-effects.
Hybrids, on the other hand, are general mix between the two. They can lean towards one way, such as being a “sativa dominant hybrid” and typically take on the effects of the dominant strain.
What does this mean?
When learning about cannabis, it’s important to note that it is all Cannabis Sativa. The indica and sativa names have to do with the subspecies of Cannabis Sativa. This is understandably confusing when trying to have discussions about strains or cannabis products.
The vast majority of hemp technically leans towards being Sativa, but there’s more to it than that. When we talk about the legal classification of what makes cannabis hemp, it has to do with the THC content being under 0.3% THC. When hemp is harvested, it’s often harvested early to keep the THC content down, which in turn can stunt the production of terpenes and other minor cannabinoids. The terpenes in particular are important.
Terpenes are largely responsible for whether or not a strain provides the sought after “sativa” or “indica” feelings. In all honesty, the vast majority of strains are actually sativa or indica dominant hybrids, even if they arent labeled as such. Indica or Sativa labeling needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Very few are “pure” due to years of breeding and crossbreeding. Furthermore, the strain one person may have access to can very well be different than what another has access to, even if they’re called by the same strain name. It’s largely accepted that the terpene Myrcene is most responsible for causing a strain to be “indica.” If you take a look at many hemp products, you will notice that the vast majority are quite low in myrcene content, and thus do not really fit into the sterotypical indica label. Instead, many hemp products are more commonly found with terpenes such as limonene or caryophyllene.
Does this mean all CBD hemp oil products will be uplifting?
No. Despite being called a sativa, it’s still most often a hybrid and thus may not always fit into the “uplifting and energizing” category. We all react differently to strains, despite the labels. This is one of the reasons we advocate for terpene lab tests that show the levels of terpenes in products. These lab tests enable consumers to make educated decisions without having to rely on labels in an unregulated industry. A common way to get an “indica” hemp product is the addition of terpenes back into products, effectively boosting the effects one way or another, depending on the chosen terpenes. These added terpenes are often food-grade, rather than cannabis derived.
In conclusion, you will rarely come across a CBD hemp oil product explicitly labeled as “indica” or “sativa” and even if you do, we highly recommend always checking the 3rd party lab tests to see the terpene content for yourself.
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