Sativa vs. Indica - what's the difference?

Sativa vs. Indica - what's the difference?

In our efforts to make the distinction between the hemp based CBD that is legal for use, and CBD derived from marijuana, the sativa vs. indica question has become a common one for us to answer.

Did you know that there are two main cannabis subspecies that are used medically?

Both derive from Cannabis Sativa L but they don’t look alike and they have widely different chemical profiles. They also differ fundamentally in their therapeutic application.

It’s important to understand the key differences between the two strains in order to make an informed choice about which CBD products are legal for you to purchase.


Cannabis Sativa

The first subspecies is called Sativa. All industrial hemp is classified as sativa and, since all lawful CBD is extracted from EU certified hemp strains, it is the only strain you can legally buy in the UK.

Aesthetically, varieties of Cannabis Sativa plants grow tall and thin and have narrow leaves. They are a light shade of green and require lots of light to grow.

They originate from countries that are close to the equator within Central/South America and Southeast Asia. However, the hemp variety of the cannabis sativa plant species have been cultivated to grow taller, in more dense crops, and in more adverse climate conditions than the rest of the cannabis family.

Their flavour/terpene profile ranges from earthy to sweet and fruity. The major therapeutic qualities of the Sativa strain include:

As the Sativa strain is more of a stimulant, it is normally recommended for daytime use. Furthermore, as the certified hemp varieties of cannabis sativa contain <0.2% THC, it is safe for use at anytime of the day as it won’t get you ‘high’.

Cannabis Indica

The other subspecies is called Indica. The hemp that is used in legal CBD products cannot be indica as all hemp is sativa based. However, the terpene profiles of famous indica strains are replicated within many legally available hemp CBD oil products.

Aesthetically, the Indica plants are short, sturdy and bushy with wide leaves. They are a far darker shade of forest green and grow far more quickly than Sativa.

They originate from the Hindu Kush mountains in the Middle East and are commonly grown in countries such as Afghanistan, Morocco and the Indian subcontinent. Their flavour/terpene profile ranges from pungent to sweet and fruity.

The major therapeutic qualities of the Indica strain include:

  • Treating insomnia
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Mental relaxation
  • Chronic pain
  • Increases dopamine
  • Stimulates appetite
  • Reduces nausea

As the indica strain is more of a sedative, it is recommended for nighttime use.

Many of the flavours within our popular Harmony CBD Terpenes range and Vape UK Terpenes range are designed to replicate common indica strains, such as OG Kush. These terpene profiles are then added to winterised CBD isolate oil that has been mixed with VG and PG. You can find out more about the terpene profile on each product page. You can also learn all about the wonder of terpenes and the 'entourage effect' in our guides - read them here and here.

Indica vs. Sativa takeaways

As responsible CBD advocates, we are duty bound to inform you of the legal risks associated with CBD products. As we’ve outlined in this article (as well as throughout our site) all of our CBD products are derived from legally certified hemp strains that feature on the EU’s list.

If you come across any CBD products elsewhere that are marketed in the UK as derived from indica cannabis strains, please be cautious and check before you buy. It may be a genuine mistake (they may mean ‘based upon’ an indica strain) but, if in doubt, don’t risk it!

The name of the product, and its flavour profile might suggest it’s from an indica strain. However, in order to be legal, it has to be sativa.

The research into CBD continues

As more studies are undertaken, more research published, and more legal precedents are introduced, we will continue to update you with all the latest findings regarding CBD.

If you still have more questions, we are always happy to help. Just get in touch with any queries you have about CBD or vaping in general.

The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a particular medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

  • Nicola Webster

About the author - Nicola Webster

Nicola Webster works as a researcher, consultant, and content creator for Vape UK and Vape UK CBD. She holds a CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing and has developed her skills and knowledge of analytics and research over a 12 year career in product marketing. Her research led approach to campaigns and content writing ensures the articles she writes for Vape UK CBD always have a basis in fact and cut through the noise. A strong advocate for CBD, Nicola has first hand experience of how CBD has benefited her and her friends and family. She is keen for others to understand how CBD could make a difference to their lives. Outside of content creation and CBD advocacy, Nicola enjoys watching live music, travelling in Southeast Asia, and exploring the beautiful countryside of the South Downs.