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Best Sativa Strains vs Best Indica Strains

CCELL Marketing 2023-08-14

There are thousands of recognized strains on popular strain database sites like Leafly, making it a challenge to choose your favorite from them all. These different strains represent the genetically individual manifestations of all your favorite buds, and they vary in things like cannabinoids, terpenes, and even how they grow. 

They come with an incredible variety of names: White Widow, Maui Wowie, Durban Poison, Sherbert, Chemdawg, XJ-13… and the list goes on! The names are as unique as the strains themselves and often carry with them hints of a strain’s origin. 

When shopping at a dispensary, you’ll find products categorized by the “type” of strain it is – sativa, indica, or hybrid. Sativas are typically very uplifting and energizing, with effects ranging from feelings of creativity to improved mood. Indicas are usually seen as more relaxing and sedating, making them a great choice for relieving stress or to help sleep. Sativas and indicas can be understood as two ends of the spectrum. Hybrids cover the space in between sativas and indicas. 

These categories were established decades ago as a way to understand a specific strain’s genetic leaning, and thus its scents, flavors, and effects. Though, many argue that these strain classifications should be reconsidered because it's an imperfect system that misses much of the nuance that exists between strains. Not all sativas or indicas fall neatly into their section, and as hybrids continue to muddle the genetic pool, the line between indicas and sativas becomes less and less clear. 

Instead of relying on terms like indica and sativa, some experts think we should focus on things like a strain’s unique blend of cannabinoids and terpenes, which ultimately determine a strain’s characteristics, as well as its genetic lineage. You can learn more about terpenes here

All of this said, as the common nomenclature for the effects a strain will give you remain in effect throughout popular culture and most dispensaries, the labels of “sativa, indica, or hybrid” are still important to pay attention to to make the right choices.

Let’s take a closer look at sativas, indicas, and hybrids, and how to pick the strain that’s best for you. 

Best Sativa Strains

As we suggested above, sativa strains are usually considered more euphoric, uplifting, and “heady”. This makes sativas a great choice as a daytime strain, and many people turn to popular sativas to tap into their creativity, focus on their projects, or get the most out of a sensory event. With lemon, pine, and tropical flavors, sativas often have terpenes profiles that rely heavily on terpenes like limonene, pinene, and geraniol. Here are a few choices from the community when it comes to the best sativa strains. 

Sour Diesel

Also known as Sour D, Sour Diesel is a cross between Chemdawg and Super Skunk. As the name would suggest, it has a pungent fuel-like smell that has been its trademark for decades. Like most sativas, the effects of Sour D are often cerebral, making it a potential choice for mood elevation.

Jack Herer

Named after a titan of the legalization movement, Jack Herer combines a Haze hybrid strain with the iconic Northern Lights and Shiva Skunk to create a balanced sativa hybrid that has been described as blissful and creative without being too stoney. That means Jack Herer could be your go-to when you need to be clear-headed and productive.


This strain boasts a terrific citrus profile that makes it a delight to vape. Many users liken Tangie to another classic strain: Tangerine Dream. Like its predecessor, Tangie can offer mild physical relaxation and a euphoric state-of-mind.

Super Lemon Haze

A combination of Super Silver Haze and Lemon Skunk, Super Lemon Haze or SLH is known for its sticky buds and strong lemon scent. When vaped, users note a sweet lemon flavor that opens up the airways. Many fans of SLH enjoy its high energy effects, which can help fuel your weekend adventures.

Green Crack

The genetic lineage of Green Crack isn’t 100 percent confirmed, but it is largely accepted to include the classic Skunk #1. Green Crack is a lively strain that reviewers say increases energy and invigorates the mind. Because of the negative connotation linked to the word crack, you might see this strain listed as Green Dragon or its original name, Green Crush. 

Other popular sativa strains include Panama Red, Durban Poison, Strawberry Cough, Maui Wowie, and more.

Best Indica Strains

While sativa strains tend to be more cerebral, indica strains are usually more stoney and physically sedating. These effects make indicas a smart choice if you are looking for relaxation, stress relief, or help sleeping. In fact, for most people, indicas are the best strains for sleep. Indica strains often have high levels of the terpenes linalool and myrcene, both of which have been used to help improve sleep and reduce soreness in other traditional forms of medicine. Look for scents and flavors that are earthy, with spicy, floral, or dark berry tones. Below are a few of the best indica strains available (popularity-wise).

Northern Lights

With genetics that reach back to Afghani and Thai landraces, Northern Lights is a classic strain with global name recognition among aficionados. With potential effects including stress-relief and physical relaxation, Northern Lights is popular for those looking to unwind and de-stress. 

Purple Kush

Another throwback strain, Purple Kush traces its lineage back to original Hindu and Afghani strains for a pure indica experience. Purple Kush often pairs the sedating body effects of indicas with a blissful euphoria that attracts consumers hoping to drift off to sleep. 

Granddaddy Purple

This beloved strain goes by a number of nicknames, like GDP and Grand Daddy Purp. This heavy indica features a grape and dark berry flavor profile that makes it stand out compared to many other indicas. Like Purple Kush and similar indicas, Granddaddy Purple could be ideal for anyone dealing with stress, soreness, or trouble sleeping. 


Mixing strains with Thai origins, this award-winning indica was popularized by American breeder DJ Short. The strain has a strong sweet blueberry flavor that gives it its name. The Blueberry strain’s strong genetics have been used as a base to create some of the most beloved strains on the market, helping to give rise to icons like Blue Cheese, Berry White, and Blue Dream. 

9 lb Hammer

Brought to market during the beginning of the designer strain craze, 9 lb Hammer was bred specifically to take advantage of its high cannabinoid content and heady effects that many people report using for a reduced stress response. 

Other popular indica strains include Purple Punch, Forbidden Fruit, Afghani #1, Platinum OG, Hindu Kush, Zkittlez, Hash Plant, and more.

Best Hybrid Strains

When strains are bred with each other, the offspring take on characteristics of the parent strains. Technically, almost all strains sold in dispensaries are hybrids formed from generations of offspring created by breeding that started with the original landrace strains. 

However, when you see a product or strain in a dispensary listed as “hybrid”, it means it has a mix of both indica and sativas characteristics (in terms of effects). Some hybrids are a 50/50 mix of indica and sativa. Other hybrids lean heavily toward being either indica or sativa. These strains might be listed as indica-dominant hybrids or sativa-dominant hybrids.

Blue Dream

This balanced blend of Blueberry and Haze is favored by people who want both a physical and cerebral response to life’s everyday stressors. Blue Dream has a tasty berry flavor that really comes through when vaped. 

Girl Scout Cookies

Now commonly known as GSC, Girl Scout Cookies likely traces its lineage to OG Kush and Durban Poison. Most users report feeling happy and care-free with this indica-dominant strain. The flavor profile of GSC includes hints of cherry, mint, and citrus. 


Sometimes listed as Runtz OG, this strain combines Zkittlez and Gelato for a sweet fruit flavored strain. Another award-winning strain, Runtz is known to have uplifting effects that are best matched with daytime adventures. 

Wedding Cake

A potent indica-dominant strain, many people consider Wedding Cake to be for experienced users only. For those that give Wedding Cake a try, they are usually rewarded with deep relaxation that can help calm the mind and body. 

OG Kush

With origins reaching back to the 1990’s, OG Kush has a storied history in breeder culture and has lent its genetics to a number of popular strains currently available, including a wide range of OG strains like Tahoe OG, SFV OG, and Ghost OG. Most OG Kush strains feature its trademark lemon, gas, and pine terpene profile. 

Other popular hybrid strains include Gelato, Chemdawg, Gorilla Glue (GG#4), Headband, and Apple Fritter. 

Many of these strains are available in vape carts from different brands in your local dispensary. Grab yourself a CCELL battery to start enjoying them right!

Shopping for the Right Strain

As we discussed above, there are thousands of recognized strains representing generations of crossbreeding by cultivators. So how do you find the right strains for you among so many choices? Let’s start with the basics. 

When shopping at your local dispensary, remember that sativas are usually focused on the mind and are best for daytime use. On the other hand, indicas are typically focused on the body and are great for nighttime use. Hybrids blend these effects. This, of course, is just a rough set of guidelines. 

Instead, experienced connoisseurs use their eyes and their nose to assist them in picking the right strains. Visually, strains with similar genetics will appear alike when inspected: this may include the bud’s density, color, frostiness, etc. 

When searching for the perfect strain, you’ll have even better luck if you trust your nose. That’s because the specific terpenes in a strain provide more than just its scent and flavor. Terpenes also likely play an important role in the effects you feel. 

You can do a deep dive into terpenes here

For example, the terpene limonene, which is also found in citrus fruits, is considered a mood enhancer. Myrcene is found in high levels in many Kush strains and might help you address pain and insomnia. Relaxing linalool is the main terpene in lavender and is also found in many purple strains. With a little experimentation, you should be able to connect certain scents to the effects you prefer most, making it easy to find new strains to love in any dispensary you visit.  

For example, the terpene limonene, which is also found in citrus fruits, is considered a mood enhancer. Myrcene is found in high levels in many Kush strains and might help you address pain and insomnia. Relaxing linalool is the main terpene in lavender and is also found in many purple strains. With a little experimentation, you should be able to connect certain scents to the effects you prefer most, making it easy to find new strains to love in any dispensary you visit.  

Remember, different strains affect people in different ways, and some light experimentation is always necessary! Whether you are looking for the best strains for sleep, the best strains for anxiety, or just something to help you unwind and have fun, your results might vary depending on your body chemistry, lifestyle, experience, and personal preferences.

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