Between smoking, vaporizing, dabbing, and edibles, recreational and medical marijuana have boomed across states that allow the consumption of weed. With more than 88% of US adults in favor of open access to cannabis products, according to Pew Research, as well as the taxable benefits for county and state governments, more regions and flower fans are starting their journey into the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of weed.

With more people taking their first toke, many users are looking to achieve a certain experience or benefit, such as alleviating anxiety, managing pain, or using marijuana as a sleep aid, among others. But you simply can’t use any weed product as different strains offer their own individual benefits. This is why users need to weigh up the differences between cannabis sativa vs. indica vs. ruderalis to ensure their marijuana product delivers the benefits and experience they want.

Between various cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds, finding a strain that’s right for you can seem a little overwhelming. To make things a lot easier, our guide will shine a light on the differences of sativa vs. indica vs. ruderalis cannabis so you can find a strain that best caters to your needs.

What is cannabis sativa?

Sativa is a THC-dominant strain that is responsible for giving a psychoactive high and euphoric feeling that is most associated with consuming cannabis and other substances. It primarily produces tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) that is converted into THC once the cannabis has been dried, burned, or processed, with some varieties containing up to 20% THC.

Sativa’s THC is known for stimulating the creative right hemisphere of the brain, which is why it has a recreational appeal associated with giving users artistic inspiration, an energizing high, an altered sense of time, and altered senses where colors appear brighter.

Cannabis sativa takes longer than other types of marijuana and is traditionally harvested in hot, dry climates in regions such as Africa, Central America, and West and Southeast Asia. They often grow to six feet tall and feature long, thin branches and finger-like leaves.

While Sativa contains low levels of CBD, THC offers a range of therapeutic effects, including:

  • Anxiety relief — When you’re comparing cannabis sativa vs indica vs ruderalis, one of the major impacts is Sativa’s impact on your anxiety and stress levels. Studies show they bind to your brain’s mood center and help manage serotonin levels, similar to the SSRI class of antidepressants like Sertraline and Fluoxetine, to promote a general feeling of wellness.
  • Alleviate chronic pain — Other research studies show Sativa remains present in your body well past its first metabolization and binds to the receptors of your endocannabinoid system to help mitigate the feeling of discomfort in neuropathic pain.
  • Manage migraines — Cannabis strains like Sativa have been used since Ancient Greece to help address the debilitating effects of migraines. While more research is needed, current studies show encouraging results, showing it shortens the duration and reduces the intensity of migraines and chronic headaches.

What is cannabis indica?

With marginally more CBD (Cannabidiol) than THC, cannabis indica is best known and used for its therapeutic benefits and buzzing body high. While most indica plants tend to contain 7.5% CBD, some varieties can contain up to 20%, which can help you manage anxiety, sleep disorders, and daytime fatigue. 

And because of its relaxing, analgesic effects, indica makes a fantastic option to consume at night. However, for people using CBD oils, there are various styles you can consider, including:

  • Full spectrum oil — Contains a suite of terpenes, CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. In states that heavily regulate THC, these products may limit its concentration to 0.3%. 
  • Broad spectrum oil — Offers a range of CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. This type doesn’t contain THC.
  • Isolate — A pure CBD concentration that ensures users can target its unique therapeutic properties.

The indica plant regenerates faster than sativa, produces more buds, and grows into a bushy plant that has uniquely adapted to the harsh terrain of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Turkey.

When comparing the factors of cannabis sativa vs. indica vs. ruderalis, some people focus on cannabis indica for its following inherent properties:

  • Modulating your mood — After being absorbed by your endocannabinoid system, research suggests that Indica can help manage the balance of GABA, a neurochemical in your brain, to regulate your mood and stimulate the release of dopamine. This offers dual benefits, as increased dopamine can increase concentration.
  • Relieve musculoskeletal pain — Whether you’re experiencing temporary or chronic muscular pain, Indica has been shown in studies to soothe inflammation, which can cause pain as a result of tight and tense muscles. Despite a small sample size signaling the need for more research, it suggested that medical marijuana helped to reduce spasticity — intense pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms by people experiencing MS (multiple sclerosis) and other spinal injuries.
  • Stimulates your appetite — For people experiencing a serious ailment where nausea can reduce hunger pangs for extended periods, Indica has been shown to trigger a hunger response — or the munchies, to encourage people to eat where they have previously abstained from eating. This gives them the opportunity to maintain a healthier lifestyle and introduce nutrients back into their diets.

What is cannabis ruderalis?

Most marijuana users are very adept at differentiating indica and sativa, but there is a lesser-known third strain of cannabis called ruderalis. While its commercial cultivation is slowly increasing, it’s traditionally found in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and India, where its genealogy has adapted to the harsh climate by growing into low-lying bushes that reach no taller than 12 inches.

Cannabis ruderalis is largely unknown for a reason — it contains very low concentrations of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, a far cry from today’s cannabis plants that have been specially cultivated to yield a higher cannabinoid content. Because of this, ruderalis isn’t used for any recreational or medical purposes.

As the fastest-growing cannabis plant, ruderalis is ready for harvesting after six to seven weeks, which makes it a fantastic option for many marijuana growers to create a hybrid strain to help optimize their crop’s yield. Especially as cannabis ruderalis matures as a result of time and doesn’t depend on its exposure to the sun to flower. 

Why some growers are using chemovars to describe strains

With more hybrid strains increasingly being used and available, like indica that can naturally contain high amounts of CBD and THC, many people in the industry are trying to reclassify their varieties by the compound makeup. These include:

  • Type I — High THC and low CBD
  • Type II — Equal balance of THC to CBD
  • Type III — Low THC and high CBD

Discover satisfying and flavor cannabis strains at Shango today

Between loose flower, shards, oil, concentrates, edibles, and pre-rolled joints, there are endless ways to enjoy your favorite strain. No matter if you prefer to consume cannabis sativa vs indica vs ruderalis, Shango has you covered. We carry an expansive and growing range of products from our own exclusive branded collection to other top-tier brands to ensure you can smoke, vaporize, and consume your cannabis your way. 

Shop online or in person at any of our locations in Nevada, Oregon, Michigan, and California to experience the industry’s best single-strain and blended products you can rely on to relax.