Sativa vs Indica CBD oil

by Laura Howarth May 16, 2023

Sativa vs Indica CBD oil

Indica and Sativa are the two main types of cannabis plants. The terms originated in the 18th century as a way to distinguish between the different types of hemp crops. Knowledge of the two plant varieties is more prevalent and relevant to cannabis culture, but sometimes you will find CBD retailers offering products produced from both Indica and Sativa plants.

Currently, most CBD oils in the UK are made from Cannabis Sativa. But there are some Indica CBD oils available too.

In the context of cannabis use, Sativa strains are commonly attributed to an uplifting and cerebral “high”, while Indica is thought to have a more calming and relaxing effect. This has been attributed to the different compositions of the plants, including the naturally occurring ratio of CBD to THC. 

However, it’s not as simple as saying that Sativa is uplifting and Indica is calming; there is a lot more going on below the surface. Differences between strains do have an impact on how it interacts with the human body. So, while it might be tempting to generalise that one variety has a particular effect it isn’t actually that simple, as the terpene and flavonoid profile have a far greater influence on how each makes you feel.

Fast facts

  • Sativa and Indica are the two main types of cannabis plants.
  • There are also hybrid versions created by breeding programmes.
  • Cannabis Sativa L. is most commonly used to produce CBD oil.
  • The terpene profile will have the most significant impact on the effects.

Sativa vs Indica – what’s the difference?

While both are cannabis plants, there are big differences in appearance, where they are grown, how they are harvested, and what they are used for.

Physical differences

Sativa vs Indica leaves

It’s easy to tell the difference between Indica and Sativa plants simply by appearance. Indica plants are shorter and bushier, usually growing around 2 to 4 feet tall with densely compacted branches. 

Sativa, on the other hand, can grow from 5 to 18 feet tall and the leaves are much thinner with sparse branches. Hybrid plants combine the characteristics of both plants, making it more difficult to identify them.

The growing conditions are also very different. Indica thrives in cooler climates with a shorter growing season, while Sativa plants are better suited to warmer climates with a long growing season.


The most important components of the cannabis plant are CBD and THC. For CBD manufacturers, they want a plant that is naturally high in CBD and low in THC. This offers a higher yield of extract that can be used to make CBD products and helps them to remain in line with UK regulations.

THC and CBD are present in both Sativa and Indica plants, but Sativa has naturally higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD.

Within the cannabis Sativa family, we can also find Sativa L (also known as industrial hemp), which is naturally high in CBD and low in THC (hemp is classed as a plant that produces less than 0.2% THC in the UK), making it perfect for CBD production.

How they impact the body

Invigorated stretching man - sunrise

The composition of the plants will have a big effect on how they impact you when consumed. Many experts believe that differences in individual strains of Sativa and Indica make it difficult to make generalisations about their effects.

Ultimately, it is the terpene profile and concentration of CBD and THC that will influence how the different strains affect you since these are the active compounds in the plant.

Common generalisations about Sativa and Indica are that Sativa will have an uplifting effect while Indica is more calming. However, it is rarely this simple, as the individual terpene profile can vary wildly, even between different classes of the same plant.

This is one reason that CBD sellers are increasing educational resources around terpenes and their impact on the body. Arguably, the terpene profile will have a bigger impact on the effects on the body than the origins of the CBD compounds. 

What types of CBD are available in the UK?

Cannabis Sativa L is the most commonly used plant to produce CBD oil in the UK. This is because only industrial hemp has the legal classification to be grown in the EU for producing CBD oil. As mentioned, industrial hemp is naturally high in CBD and low in THC.

Purple Edition hybrid CBD oil – CBD Brothers

Hybrid and Indica-based CBD products are rare but not impossible to find. They often contain terpene profiles that are tailored to specific outcomes, such as being more uplifting or calming.

Since Indica-based CBD is quite rare, it will typically carry a higher price tag than some of the more widely available Sativa-based CBD products. If you are willing to pay more, it’s important to check if you are really getting an Indica-based product, and not just paying over the odds for a mislabelled product.

CBD Brothers are one of the few companies in the UK to offer hybrid Sativa/Indica CBD oils. The majority of the products we stock are Indica-dominant hybrids, like the Purple Edition CBD oil which is partly extracted from Indica plants. On the other hand, their Red Edition CBD oil is a 100% Indica extract, the strongest Indica oil in the UK market.

You can also find this CBD/CBG vape liquid from Love CBD, which is available in Sativa or Indica blends. The product is made from CBD isolate, with a terpene blend designed to mimic the differences between the two types of plant.

Which is better, Indica or Sativa?

It’s impossible to say which is better since there are so many variations between plants. For CBD customers, the important thing to understand is that the terpene profile is likely to have a bigger impact on the results than the use of Indica and Sativa.

The ingredients label on your CBD will often tell you the origins of the compounds. It will typically say something like “full-spectrum cannabis Sativa L. extract”. There is no legal requirement to state the type of plant, but most sellers will be aware of the origins of their CBD and will be able to tell you when asked.

If you encounter a seller that cannot tell you the cannabinoid contents of a product, or they do not know the origins of their products, it would be best to avoid purchasing from them as you cannot be sure what you are getting.


Splitting cannabis into two categories and using this to assign them properties, risks simplifying the complexities of the plant. While they might be structurally different and thrive in different environments, it’s difficult to say that all Sativa plants have certain properties that contrast with Indica plants.

From a CBD customer’s perspective, it’s important to know that the majority of CBD sold in the UK is made from Sativa L. When brands make a distinction between Sativa and Indica, they are more likely pointing to the terpene profile, which can have a profound impact on how it interacts with your body.

As product development continues, expect to see more companies harnessing the benefits of hybrid strains of hemp to produce new and exciting products.

CBD Brothers collection

Join us to get updates and special deals monthly:

Laura Howarth
Laura Howarth


Laura Howarth is a specialist CBD author based in Manchester, UK. She is passionate about sharing her love for CBD through educational articles and in-depth guides.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in CBD blog

CBC – What is this cannabinoid?
CBC – What is this cannabinoid?

by Laura Howarth June 10, 2024


by Tom Russell May 14, 2024

CBD strengths explained
CBD strengths explained

by Laura Howarth May 06, 2024