Eli5 What makes indica and sativa strains different?

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Is there a medical reason or what makes them different?

In: Biology

I had this question a while back so I did some googling, so I’m not an expert, but simply put Marijuana is part of the hemp family, and different strains are different genetic variants. The changes in the genetics cause slightly different kinds and amounts of THC and CBD in the plant, leading to different effects. I’d imagine that since the birth of marijuana cultivation, humans have also artificially selected and bred the strains that offer to the polar opposite feelings (calming vs stimulating/inspiring) out of interest in maximizing the specific effect they wanted the plant to have.

Sativa is more of a head high and can make you more outgoing , indica is more relaxing body high and makes you slumped . That’s my experience/opinion

They are two separate but really really similar species of cannabis. If they even count as a separate is up for debate since they can cross breed and create viable offspring. But in any case, combining various strains results in different levels of THC and CBD. These are the main psychoactive compounds, and have different effects. Sativas tend to be higher in THC, indicas tend to have more CBD.

There’s a good episode of Explained on Netflix on this subject.

Basically, indica comes from India and grows short and fat and hardy, sativa comes from Europe (iirc) and grows tall and skinny and only in good temperatures. Indica tends to make you feel sleepy while sativa gives you energy, but almost all strains are mixed at this point. Sativa wouldn’t survive well if it wasn’t mixed.

From what I understand it is not so much indica vs. sativa as it is the terpenes in the weed. I am not an expert on the subject but I know someone who is a weed scientist that runs sort of a weed school and she tried explaining it to me at one point. The gist that I got from it is that it is the terpenes that give different highs.