If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of marijuana strains, the terms can come across like little more than confusing jargon. But once you get to grips with the basics, the world of cannabis can begin to open up.
If you’re considering smoking for medical or recreational reasons, it’s important to educate yourself before partaking in cannabis use. That way, you can choose a strain to suit your needs and ensure an optimal experience.
We’ve compiled a complete guide to indica strains, including an explanation of the difference between indica and sativa, some pros and cons, and a list of the best indica strains out there.
If you don’t know the difference between Northern Lights and Hindu Kush, you’re not alone! By the end of this article, though, we promise you’ll be an expert in all things indica. Read on for everything you need to know about indica weed strains, followed by some handy FAQs and tips.
Sativa vs Indica
Before we go too far into our list of the best indica plants you can find, it’s important to ask: What’s the difference between sativa and indica? If you’re here you’ve likely heard of both of these types of cannabis before, but may not know exactly what makes them unique.
Fundamentally, each are different strain forms of the cannabis plant. When smoked or ingested, they can have different effects on different individuals due to their unique chemical compositions.
For this reason, it’s important to know the strain of your weed before you smoke it – That way, you can try to prepare yourself for any potential effects, and hopefully avoid surprises. Let’s talk about and go over some of the defining features of indica, sativa, and hybrid strains.
Compared to sativa and hybrid plants, indica cannabis plants are short and bushy with wider shaped leaves. They are known for growing fast, and in general yield a higher crop than sativa plants do.
Because they are shorter than sativa plants, they are often chosen to be grown indoors. They generally grow no taller than 6 feet, taking around 9 weeks to produce flowers.
Many users note that pure indica strain marijuana can have a sedative effect. This is why indica strains are typically known as ‘nighttime strains’, best suited to winding down at the end of the day. Here are some other effects commonly reported by users of indica weed strains:
- Sleepiness and alleviation of insomnia
- Heaviness of limbs
- Full body tingling
- Increasing appetite and reduction of nausea
Found in nature in Brazil, Thailand, Cambodia, and Mexico, the sativa variety of cannabis plant grows far taller than the indica strain, commonly reaching heights of over 12 feet!
It has thin leaves and takes longer to flower than indica does. Its leaves are slightly paler in color and need more light than indica’s leaves do.
Common myth states that sativa strains are generally higher in THC and lower in CBD than indica strains are, leading many to believe that sativa strains have more energizing effects. In truth, this has not been proven to be the case, and a glance at any strain directory worth it’s salt will show that variance in THC and CBD levels between the two strains is functionally negligible.
Still, most people seek out sativa strains for the more “uplifting” and energetic high they are commonly believed to provide (whether or not this is actually always the case is a question for another article, however).
Other potential effects of sativa strains can include:
- Pain relief
- Mood regulation
- A dry mouth
- Sensory effects
A hybrid strain is bred from a mixture of indica and sativa plants. As you’d expect, its plant borrows qualities from both of its parent plants. Each hybrid’s genetics are therefore a mixture of indica and sativa.
A hybrid strain’s effects depend on the plants used to cross-breed it. If a strain is indica-dominant, most users will expect to feel more sedative effects. If a potent sativa strain has been used to breed a hybrid, then an elevated, more energetic high is typically expected.
Pros and Cons of Indica Strains
Like with everything cannabis-related, your level of enjoyment depends on your personal preferences, and what you’re looking to get out of the experience.
Here are some pros and cons of indica strains, though it’s important to remember that weed use is subjective. An advantage for one person may be a drawback for someone else- it all depends on your taste.
- Pain relief. Studies have shown that indica strains can be effective in relieving non-migraine headaches, neuropathy, spasticity, and chronic pain like joint pain.
- Alleviation of disordered sleep. Medicinal indica strains have been found to improve sleep disorders for some users.
- Treatment of anxiety. The low THC and high CBD content of most indica strain variants make them well suited to treating anxiety. Studies – such as those found here and here – have noted that CBD ingestion can reduce the effects of anxiety and depression in users over time.
- Relaxed body high. Indica users commonly report full body deep relaxation, which can be accompanied by a floating feeling or tingly sensation.
- Lower THC content. Though the commonly lower THC content present in indica genetics makes for a somewhat gentler high, recreational users may consider this a downside. If you’d prefer a more intense, active, psychedelic high, sativa may be a better choice.
- Drowsy effects. Similarly, while many enjoy the sedative effect of indica strains, others may want to be energized when they smoke. If this is the case, an indica-dominant strain probably isn’t the best pick.
Why Smoke Indica Strains?
People smoke indica strains for different reasons, whether it’s serving a particular purpose (e.g. pain relief) or is purely recreational. Here are just some of the reasons that so many people choose to use indica strain cannabis:
Relief from chronic pain. As studies show, some cannabis indica strains can provide effective pain relief. For people suffering from arthritis, cancer, headaches, nerve damage, and inflammation, indica strain marijuana may provide some much-needed relief.
To treat stress disorders. Similarly, research has suggested that indica marijuana strains may relieve some symptoms of stress and mental health disorders like PTSD and OCD.
To unwind at the end of the night. Indica’s calming effects make it perfect for helping people to unwind after a stressful or busy day. Many recreational users seek out deep relaxation with indica strains after a day at work or even after a night out.
For a gentle high. People searching for a gentler, slow-burning high often find themselves satisfied after smoking (small amounts of) an indica strain weed. Indica is commonly enjoyed for its euphoric effects.
Best Indica Strains
Whether you’re thinking of trying indica for the first time or want to improve your smoking experience, it’s important to understand the different strains.
Though these are all indica strains, the plants have been bred with different characteristics. This is reflected in their effects- while some strains have higher CBD, others are more potent as they’ve been bred to contain more THC.
From California Dream to O.G. Kush, we’ve compiled a list of the 9 best indica strains out there! Read on for all the must-know info about indica marijuana strains.
Northern Lights is a pure indica cannabis strain created by crossing Thai with Afghani weed. This plant, recognizable by its purple and crystal-colored buds, is said to have originated in Seattle, Washington. It grows in a dense bush shape and can be grown indoors or outdoors provided it has lots of sunlight.
This highly popular indica strain has a high THC content and contains lots of resin. This makes it a good choice for recreational users looking for an intense high. It’s also said to taste subtly like pine and includes herbal flavors such as mint!
Hindu Kush is one of the most popular indica strains available. Its plant, which flowers in just 6 weeks, has been selectively bred for over 20 years, though it originated as a pure landrace strain from the Hindu Kush mountains in Central Asia.
Over decades, it has been bred into one of the best pure indica strains. It has dense and sticky buds which provide a calm high, reportedly more gentle than heavier indica strains.
Strawberry Bubblegum and Banana Kush have been crossed to create this strain, famous as one of the strongest indica dominant strains available, with a mammoth 26% THC level.
Users have reported a euphoric and uplifting head high after smoking Strawberry Banana. Despite (or perhaps because of) the typical sedative effects expected by an indica varietal, this particular indica strain is commonly recommended to combat chronic pain, depression, stress, and appetite issues.
As reflected in its name, this strain’s leaves are a deep purple in color. The first Granddaddy Purple hybrid marijuana plants were created in San Francisco in 2003, by crossing the strains Purple Urkle and Big Bud (two plants known for their excellent genetics).
One of the best-selling indica strains available, Grandaddy Purple typically carries a high THC content (between 17-23%), and features fruity flavors inherited from Purple Urkle to tickle the taste buds. Users report a euphoric and dreamy high with an enjoyable cerebral rush.
Known for its distinctive flavor and its potency, O.G. Kush is a strain that we couldn’t possibly leave off this list (it is O.G., after all). This hybrid strain contains 25% sativa and 75% indica, with a high level of THC (around 19%). Its plants are some of the easiest to grow inside, with a short flowering time.
After smoking this cannabis strain, OG Kush users report a relaxing full body high and a mood elevation. Some medical users argue it can be used to effectively treat headaches, ADHD, and stress.
Originating from Oakland, California, Purple Kush is one of the strongest (and most recognizable by-name) indica strains out there, often boasting a THC level of 27%. The leaves of this potent strain are distinctively dark in color. Able to thrive both outdoors and indoors, its hardy plants generally provide a high yield.
This pure indica strain is reported to cause an energetic high and a full-body buzz. If cured slowly, buds can taste sweet and peppery.
California Dream is a potent strain known for its high THC and high CBD content. It is bred as both a pure indica variation and an indica-dominant hybrid. The fast-growing plants produce large buds with lots of resin, and flower after 9 weeks.
Due to its relaxing effects, California Dream is recommended by experts for medicinal use, though it’s also used recreationally. It is reported to provide a euphoric high with full-body relaxation due to the high CBD content.
This pure indica strain was created in New Orleans by crossing two other plants on this list- Northern Lights and O.G. Kush. Its plants are dense, with compact buds that are light in color and resinous. When grown correctly, its leaves and flowers are coated with white trichomes, which have calming effects when smoked.
Bubba Kush is an incredibly dank-smelling indica strain, reported to produce a calming high, muscle relaxation, tiredness, and appetite stimulation.
Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scout Cookies – another of the most popular indica strains available – is a hybrid strain and a cross of Durban Poison and OG Kush. With a short flowering time of 9-10 weeks, Girl Scout Cookies plants have green and purple buds with small orange hairs.
This strain’s high THC level makes it a popular choice among medical marijuana patients, though it’s also enjoyed recreationally. Reaching legendary status in the community, it has even won awards, including multiple Cannabis Cups.
What are the strongest strains of indica?
One of the strongest indica strains is Purple Kush, which has a THC level of 27%. After smoking this peppery-tasting strain, users report an energetic head buzz and full-body effects.
Other potent indica variants include California Dream and Granddaddy Purple, which have THC levels of around 23% and 21% respectively, as well as Strawberry Banana, topping out at 26%. Both of these plants produce resin-coated buds which take your high to the next level. If you’re looking for an intense indica high, look no further than these popular strain options!
Which indica is the best?
Though your level of enjoyment depends on your personal preference, not all weed variations are created equal. There are a few heavy indica strains that we think stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, depending on your use case:
For a Relaxed High
If you’re using cannabis to chill out at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with Bubba Kush. Its white trichomes are known to have relaxing effects, so you’ll be sinking into the couch in no time.
For an Energetic Buzz
If you’re looking for the opposite effect- an energizing high to act as a pick-me-up- you’ll want to opt for a high THC strain. We recommend the strongest indica strains available, which are Strawberry Banana and Purple Kush.
Though indica variants are generally thought of as being sleepier than sativa ones, these potent strains are known for their euphoric, uplifting effects.
For Medical Use
There’s no one strain that’s best for medical use, because medical marijuana can be used to treat many very different health problems, from anxiety to chronic pain.
One of the most common indica strains for medicinal use is Girl Scout Cookies. It is often suggested that its high level of THC can provide relief from nausea and appetite loss, along with a euphoric head buzz and full-body relaxation. Its sweet flavor also makes for an enjoyable smoking experience.
Our Top Choices
Of course, all of the above said, here’s High There’s official picks for best in show:
- Grandaddy Purple. This strain has great genetics, deriving from Purple Urkle and Big Bud. It’s known to produce a dreamy and euphoric high, and cerebral effects.
- Bubba Kush. This plant’s white trichomes can provide unparalleled relaxation, perfect for a chilled session at the end of a busy day.
- Girl Scout Cookies. This award-winning indica strain is famous in the cannabis community. With a high level of THC, it’s ideal for both medicinal and recreational use.
Do All Indica Strains Make You Sleepy?
Just because a strain is an indica variant, doesn’t mean it’ll send you to sleep.
While some indica strains, like Bubba Kush, have a stronger sedative effect, this isn’t true of all indicas. Some indica dominant strains, like Mango Kush, have been reported to boost energy and provide a more uplifting high.
As we alluded to above, the common thoughts that “all indicas will put you to sleep” and “all sativas will keep you active” are largely myth, and even two people sharing the exact same bud may not experience the same effects. When it comes to discovering which weed is best for you? Sometimes there’s no replacing good old-fashioned first-party testing.
After reading this guide, you should have a clearer idea about the different indica variations available.
Though we’ve outlined our 9 top picks, there are so many strain variations out there. If you’re planning on trying indica strain cannabis, your pick will depend entirely on your personal preferences and your reason for smoking.
If you’re looking for body relaxation with a minimal head high, opt for a low-THC, high-CBD strain. If you’re more interested in an intense or energetic head buzz, opt for a high THC strain, though we’d urge a cautious approach, to begin with.
We hope our article has given you a bit of insight into what indica strains may be best for you. Also, keep an eye out for our companion article on the best sativa strains, coming to our site soon. Happy smoking!