What's the difference between indica and sativa? Comparing with data. | Lioness
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What's the difference between indica and sativa?

Cannabis flower

Observing the difference through data (and orgasms)

Since our first article on cannabis and orgasms, we’ve gotten a lot more questions about how cannabis affects sex and pleasure. Something that surprised me was that even some regular cannabis users did not pay much attention to the differences between indica, sativa, and hybrids. There are thousands of varieties of cannabis plants out there that can produce different effects for different people. We wanted to take a peek at the potential of some of the differences.

The differences in a nutshell

Three common types of plants you’ll hear about are Indicas, Sativas, and Hybrids. Indica is usually characterized by a “body high” while Sativa is more frequently characterized by a “cerebral head high”. Hybrid is a cross between the two.

Indica

Sedative/relaxant that can be effective for anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, muscle spasms, and tremors. They tend to have a higher level of cannabinoids than sativas (which tend to have a higher level of THC). They also tend to make people sleepy or “couchlocked” (so sleepy/relaxed that you don’t want to get off the couch) and are recommended at the end of the day.

Example Strains: White Berry, Blueberry, Northern Lights, Sensi Star and Gold Star

Sativa

Cerebral head high which can help with mitigating depression, migraines, chronic pain, and nausea. Tends to have a higher level of THC than Indicas. Can make you feel perky and alert, so it’s recommended to take during the day.

Example Strains: Haze, Trainwreck, K2, Kali Mist White Russian and Kiwi Green.

Hybrid

Perhaps you want to mitigate anxiety but not have the same effects of a sleeping pill. That’s where Hybrids come in. People have cross-bred different plants to achieve different types of effects and it’s a large part why there are all these different varieties of cannabis plants out there. So for the aforementioned example, you may be looking for an indica dominant or sativa dominant product.

Example Strains: OG Kush, Chem Dawg, Grand Daddy Purple, and Cookies.

Because a picture is a thousand words

I’ve included a basic infographic below summarizing some of the key differences between Indica and Sativa in terms of plant appearance, growth, and effects.

Indiva vs. Sativa

Photo Credit: azmarijuana.com

But wait! It’s not that simple…

  1. Are all of these strains hybrids? Because there are so many different plants, some have argued that technically, most all of these cannabis plants are hybrids of some sort.
  2. What’s the basis of historical categorization for Indica/Sativa: Furthermore, looking into the history of how these terms came to be, Indica and Sativa were primarily determined by the plant’s appearance rather than their chemical structure or side effects on people.
  3. Are plant strains consistent? Since cannabis became decriminalized/legal in many parts of the world recently after decades of bans, a lot of the growing and business was underground. As a result plant growth and categorization has had little oversight, and it can be difficult for growers to reproduce the same chemical properties from crop to crop. It’s been getting better recently with more rigorous testing, splicing, manufactured products, and regulation/oversight, but it’s still very early on in the process.

So although certain plants are categorized on the Sativa-Indica spectrum, their appearances and this categorization may not sufficiently describe the experience. Add to it that everyone is different and will respond differently to different types of cannabis, and things get murkier. I’d recommend using the three categories as a general guide, but if you’re looking for a specific effect, take into consideration how you’ve responded in the past, how much you take, and try to dig more into the details of the chemical compounds of the strains you’re interested in.

There are also other cannabinoids

Although when we talk about cannabis we mainly talk about THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), there are literally hundreds of cannabinoids out there. Here are just a few of them to give you a sense of it:

  • CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid)
  • THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
  • CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
  • CBCA (Cannabichromenenic acid)
  • CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic acid)
  • THCVA (Tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid)
  • CBDVA (Cannabidivarinic acid)
  • CBCVA (Cannabichromevarinic acid)

And then there are terpenes

Heylo Cannabis does a good summarization of terpenes:

“Terpenes are aromatic organic compounds found in many plants and even some insects. Plants developed terpenes to ward off herbivores that might eat them and to attract helpful predators and pollinators. Cannabis (marijuana) has naturally high levels of terpenes. ‘Dank’ flower gets its dank stank from being rich in terpenes.”

So terpenes are not specific to cannabis — you can find terpenes all over the place (e.g. essential oils also have a huge variety of terpenes). Different strains of cannabis also have a variety of different terpenes, all with their different scents and effects.

I’ve included a table below describing some common terpenes and their properties. Keep in mind that a lot of the research for terpenes (and cannabis) are still very early at this point, so there is still a lot that is not well-known and still a lot to learn.

Terpenes

How do different strains affect sex, pleasure, and orgasms?

I like to characterize the experience like this: Imagine you’re playing Mario (pick whichever platform version of the video game you’re familiar with). You can find all sorts of power-ups that have different effects on Mario and can be useful at different times. You have things that can make Mario fly, throw fireballs, or become giant. Likewise, with cannabis, different strains, doses, and types of products have different effects that can be helpful/pleasurable for different people in different instances.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that different strains can have different effects on you and your pleasure. In fact, a variety of things affect sex and pleasure, not just marijuana. There’s the obvious of physiological response, preferences, mental stimulation (i.e. some form of fantasizing), and partner and foreplay (if your activity is with a partner). Since cannabis can affect your mind and body, it can also change your experience with pleasure.

We’ve taken a brief look before at how cannabis affects pleasure for different people and even looked at the effects of different cannabis products like weed lube, but how can different strains of cannabis affect things?

Below, I’ve tried two different indica and sativa strains and tested my own sexual response with the Lioness Vibrator.

(If you’re seeing this, I’m sorry mom and dad. You can stop reading now!)

Sativa = Quickie

PAX Orange Dank Sativa Vape

I’m bringing up this one first because, well, it helped me finish the fastest. Usually, I like to take my time with things techniques like edging (deliberately prolonging climax), which can help heighten the experience, with or without cannabis, but apparently not so with this sativa vape. I finished in half the time I expected, pretty consistently each time I’ve tried it.

When to use this: If I’m looking for a quickie, or if I want to qualify for an orgasm race for sprinting.

Sativa Orgasm Chart

Indica = Ride the High Tide

PAX Vanilla Kush Indica Vape

After trying the sativa, I had to try an indica. Unlike sativa, indica tends to chill people out (myself included), so I was curious what an indica strain would do to my orgasms. This time, I took my time with things, and had a nice, pleasurable orgasm. It kind of reminded me of an experience I had way back in college when I was in Amsterdam and ate a mysterious edible (I think it was a space cake or moon cake?), had sex with my partner, had a great orgasm, and promptly fell asleep.

When to use this: When I want to have an orgasm before falling into a deep slumber. When I want to feel like I’m in the middle of a peaceful part of the ocean—but without the fear of sharks—with the waves rocking me back and forth…

Indica Orgasm Chart

Which one was better?

Hard to say, to be honest. Both experiences were different and interesting in their own way, and I can see one being more interesting/helpful than another in certain instances. I personally prefer indicas/relaxing effects over the cerebral effects, so that’d what I’d probably stick with, but it’s great to know that there are a variety of things I can do (with cannabis and with other things) to explore my pleasure.

Furthermore, upon doing research for this article, I came across Ashley Manta’s experience testing an Indica and Sativa, and for her, the indica was much, much quicker for her than the sativa, which is the exact opposite of what I found in my experience. Granted, they were two different strains of indica and sativa, they were flowers versus pods, we probably tried different things at different dosages, I don’t have other data besides what was written, and we’re different people with different preferences/bodies/lives… but I think that underscores just how much individual preferences and reactions matter, too.

At the end of the day, I recommend what we always recommend at Lioness for trying anything: Self-experiment and see what works for you. Get to know your own body because that’s what matters most. After all, it’s a huge reason why we created the Lioness Vibrator so it can be easier to try new things, observe, and reflect on your own pleasure (for better sex and orgasms, with the vibrator and without).

Go forth and explore

Whether you are a seasoned cannabis user or have never tried it before, I recommend trying new things and seeing how they affect you. It can be anything from cannabis products, different techniques, a bit of alcohol, new toys… pretty much anything that intrigues you. You don’t have to try everything under the sun, but adding something new to your life now and then can add a zest to your life than routine can never produce.

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Intrigued or want your own data? Take a look at The Lioness


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