Indica or Sativa for Energy: What are the Differences?

Nov 27, 2023

Assorted indica and sativa products from Mellow Fellow

In the world of cannabis discourse, the debate between indica and sativa is age-old. Is there actually a difference between the two? Can one energize you while the other relaxes you?

This question has interested cannabis enthusiasts, cultivators, and patients alike. Let’s not forget hybrids: most strains are a blend of indica and sativa, opening the subject up to hundreds of effect possibilities. 

In this article, we’re exploring beyond the terms. We want to discover the differences in effects, aromas, tastes, potential benefits, and even growth patterns. Cannabis can be a customized experience if you wish, with different strains and terpene profiles offering varying experiences. 

Let’s get into it and discover why those differences exist.

Key Takeaways

  • Indica strains are recognized for inducing relaxation, while sativa strains are associated with boosting energy levels and promoting a sense of vitality and focus. These distinctions form the fundamental basis for categorizing cannabis strains.
  • Indica has its roots in the Hindu Kush region, thriving in cooler climates with shorter growing seasons. In contrast, sativa's origin is believed to be around the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, and it flourishes in warmer, tropical environments. The differences in their characteristics may be attributed to their historical origins and growth patterns.
  • Hybrid strains, born from crossbreeding indica and sativa, offer a diverse genetic lineage that combines the relaxing properties of indica with the energizing effects of sativa. These hybrids provide a balancing act, with some strains leaning towards sativa effects, others indica-dominant, and some achieving a perfect blend of both, catering to varied preferences and experiences.

The Fundamentals of Cannabis Strains

Indica and sativa are practically the heart of the cannabis lexicon, under which most strain categorization is made. First, let’s define these two terms: 


Indica is a subspecies of cannabis that’s best known for its calming, relaxing, and sedating effects. Most indica plants are characterized by broad, chunky leaves on a compact and stocky stem.


Sativa is a subspecies of cannabis that’s known for its uplifting, energizing, and cerebral effects. Most sativa plants are characterized by thin, pointy leaves on a slender, lanky structure. 

Origins and Growth Patterns

The differences between indica and sativa may be due to their different history. Indica has deep roots in the Hindu Kush region that encompasses regions like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tibet.

With a thick and stocky plant structure and broad leaves to match, indica’s distinct visual identity makes it easy to identify. Indica seems to thrive in cooler climates with shorter growing seasons. 

Sativa’s origin is a little hazier, but its center of origin is believed to be around the northeastern Tibetan Plateau in Central Asia, although its widespread use has experts wondering where it was all used.

Unlike indica, sativa’s tall and slender appearance and pointy leaves stand out from its more relaxing buddy. More equatorial, sativa thrives in warmer and tropical environments. 

Sativa: The Daytime Dynamo

Characteristics of Sativa Strains

Sativa strains are typically less relaxing than Indica strains and are celebrated for their uplifting, cerebral, and energetic effects. Sativa strains like Mellow Fellow’s Candyland carts may be a great option if you’re looking for a cerebral buzz but an energized body. sativa is also a great option for daydreamers, creatives, and those seeking mental clarity. 

With over 700 cannabis strains identified to date, it’s hard to boil down the best. However, some of the most iconic sativa-forward strains that are sure to get you up and at ‘em are Pineapple Express, Green Crack, and Blue Dream. If a classical sativa is what you’re after, consider taking a look at Mellow Fellow’s Pineapple Express pre-rolls and vape duos

Mellow Fellow Wharhol Pineapple Express Pre Rolls

Benefits of Choosing Sativa for Energy

If you’re looking for a cannabis experience that doesn’t prioritize rest, sativa strains might be your perfect match. Rather than a jolty anxiety like you might get from a cup of coffee, sativa users on Reddit celebrate sativa strains’ ability to infuse a sense of well-being, motivation, and heightened focus. 

Different terpene profiles account for varying effects in cannabis, which is why finding a terpene profile you like can be essential. Looking for strains high in terpenes like pinene, limonene, and terpinolene may signify sativa properties, making them ideal for mood-boosting and energizing.

Indica: Not Just for Nighttime

Characteristics of Indica Strains

Indica is the complete opposite of sativa. The serene effects of indica are often described as a profound sense of relaxation in both body and mind and a body-heavy sensation that may have you couch-locked.

Celebrated as more of a nighttime strain, indica is a great choice if you’re looking to ease tension and promote a sense of tranquility (or even a long nap). 

However, don’t believe the common misconception: not all indica are sedative. Many indica users prefer the more relaxing strains because it’s less prone to anxiety side effects and offers mild relaxation. 

Can Indica Strains be Energetic?

Surprising as it may seem, some indica strains defy stereotypes and may have surprising effects that gift you with a boost of energy.

Because many strains are hybrids, meaning they have both sativa and indica characteristics, there are quite a few indica strains that are packed with terpenes that do more than just relax. 

Hybrids like Mellow Fellow’s Jilly Bean or Wedding Crasher carts can provide a boost of energy along with cerebral calm. 

Strains may also not provide the same experience for everyone. Differing tolerance levels, personal preferences, and even biochemistry play a role in how a certain strain ultimately affects a person.

While one person might feel relaxed on an indica strain, someone else might feel uplifted. 

Hybrid Strains: Best of Both Worlds?

Hybrid strains are the alchemists of cannabis, perfectly blending the effects of indica and sativa and hundreds of ways. Born from crossbreeding different subspecies, these strains inherit a diverse genetic lineage that lets them embody the energizing properties of sativa and the relaxing ones from CBD. 

Hybrids offer a balancing act of effects, with some dominating in sativa effects, some indica-dominant, and others a perfect blend. Some of the most celebrated hybrid strains include Blue Dream, Gelato, and Zkittles.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Strains

Woman working out with a weighted ball.

Choosing the right cannabis strain, whether indica, sativa, or hybrid, is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. While it might be a journey that takes you a while to master, understanding how different strains affect your personal biochemistry can lead you to find a perfectly customized cannabis experience. 

Each person’s reaction to strains is unique and influenced by genetic factors, metabolism, and overall health. When selecting strains, exploring and trying out new things are your best bet. 

Choose strains that speak to you. If you’re looking for an energizing experience that’ll have you ready to run out the door at a moment’s notice, a sativa strain may be the best choice. 

If you want to spend your evenings winding down with a toque, indica is your best friend. If you’re not sure but know you want the best of both worlds, exploring hybrid strains might tickle your bean. 

Timing also plays an important world in cannabis. Harvesting at different points and getting strains during certain cultivation periods may affect the outcome of the overall effect. 

An early harvest might intensify the cerebral effect, while a later harvest could have higher amounts of CBD, making it more relaxing. Proper curing, drying, and aging also play a role, which is why it’s important to support cultivators that offer high-quality and premium flower and cannabis products.

Final Thoughts

We come near to drawing the curtain on this exploration, but it’s essential to revisit the important facts that’ll make you sound like a cannabis expert at the next party: each subspecies contributes uniquely to the cannabis world. 

Indica might be known as the nightcap strain beloved for inducing relaxation, while sativa is often connected to feelings of vitality and energy. Hybrids, in their own right, can hold effects that encompass both strains. 

If you’re looking for an energizing cannabis experience, sativa strains may be your best choice. If you’re not sure where to get them, we suggest checking out Mellow Fellow’s line of sativa strains, including Strawberry Cough, Tokyo Diesel, and Ghost Train

Mellow Fellow Strawberry Cough Live Resin Disposable

However, keep in mind that while sativa is more associated with boosting energy, different factors contribute to diverse reactions and experiences due to individual responses. 

The key to finding your perfect strain lies in exploration. Don’t be afraid to try new strains and explore diverse terpene profiles, even keeping a diary so you can keep up with the effects and choose the ultimate winner. 

Remember that the boundaries between indica and sativa are flexible, especially with hybrids blurring the line. Knowing the basics can help you tailor the experience to your unique needs, whether you’re seeking relaxation, a boost of energy, or a delicate balance of both. 

Sativa or Indica for Energy: Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Indica and Sativa Strains Differ in Their Effects?

Indica strains typically induce relaxation, while sativa strains are known for boosting energy levels. 

Are There Specific Terpenes that Influence a Strain’s Energy Level?

Strains high in terpenes like pinene, limonene, and terpinolene may have energizing and mood-enhancing effects.

How Can I Find the Most Energizing Strain Tailored to My Needs?

Experimenting with strains is the best way to find one that best suits your energizing needs. Sativa strains tend to have more mood-enhancing and energizing effects. 

What are Hybrid Strains, and How Do They Fit Into the Energy Debate?

Hybrid effects are made by crossbreeding indica and sativa strains, resulting in subspecies that have balanced effects.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Share on Social

Social Media Sharing