By now you’re probably aware of marijuana’s therapeutic effects.
The end of prohibition is near, and if you don’t know where to start or just want some quality Indica suggestions, you’ve landed on the right page. I’ve outlined the most popular and effective strains to treat everyday roadblocks like sleep, anxiety and pain management. I’ll also get into some good seeds to grow at home and new technology that makes it easier than ever to get incredible results. So if you make it to the end of this Indica buyers guide, you’ll be able to recognize some names of strains in the market and select the ideal ones for natural relief – or to just get high. And depending on where you are in the world, a few, or all of these will be available to you.
Cannabis Indica Classification & history
The history of cannabis, particularly its usage by humans, goes back centuries. It is only in recent years that the plant’s true potential as a medicinal herb and supplement has publicly taken shape. In order to find the right strain, you should understand the difference between the two main varieties of the plant as each offers a different set of benefits. These strains are known as Sativa and Indica (another popular variety is a hybrid of the two—for the sake of this article, we will only focus on Indica and Indica-hybrids). As a general rule of thumb, one of the easiest ways to determine which strain is right for you: Sativa is typically your ideal daytime cannabis strain; Indica often works wonders (though not exclusively) in the evening—when there is no heavy lifting or socializing to be had. Sativa strains tend to offer a more energizing sensation, while Indica strains typically provide a sense of deep relaxation. At the end of the day, both raise dopamine levels in the brain, increases appetite, and decreases nausea and acute pain.
While these two classifications serve a useful marketing purpose and are generally correct in terms of how people feel, they don’t make much sense scientifically. Jean Baptiste Lamarck (a French biologist) came up with them in the 1700s, calling them two distinct species. But this was over 200 years ago. Scientists are finding that it’s actually the chemical compounds aka cannabinoids that make you feel a-way. The point is 5 years from now we’ll probably be using an entirely different classification system. How we identify the physical differences won’t change – Indica plants are easily recognizable due to its short, bushy plants and broad leaves – but the microbiology of cannabis is in its infancy.
Best Indica Strains for Sleeping
Before identifying the best Indica strain to help with your insomnia, it is important to understand the root cause of your sleeping issue. I’m not going to try and diagnose your problems, but there are many different mental and physical reasons as to you may be experiencing insomnia: poor sleep habits, diet, stress, trauma, and other biological factors. Light-emitting devices within your line of sight in a darkened bedroom will fuck you up too. Read a book, burn a candle, smoke some weed.
Aside from the obvious discomfort and fatigue that comes from insufficient sleep, insomnia can lead to other issues, including loss of reflexes (leading to accidents), weight gain, a generally decreased quality of life and numerous adverse social afflictions (alienating friends, family, employers, etc.) Most people who suffer from insomnia use medication to assist them with falling asleep. This practice can prove detrimental to your overall health, leading to prescription pill addiction and dependency. Fuck that. If you do not wish to rely upon prescription medication, cannabis Indica is certainly a useful alternative.
It is important to note that certain strains of cannabis are better at easing insomnia caused by chronic pain, while others offer greater results when targeting anxiety-induced insomnia. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known for its psychotropic and sedating effects, particularly with the Indica cannabis strains. For those experiencing difficulty sleeping due to high anxiety, you may consider combining level amounts of THC & Cannabidiol (CBD) because it can balance out the psychotropic effects of THC. The lesser-known Cannabinol (CBN) is five times more sedating than THC, so you might want to consider this option if you find that you are not experiencing the full effect of your chosen Indica strains, or if you just smoke a lot and need heavier weed.
Heaviest Indica Strains
As with many types of supplements, using Indica cannabis to combat your individual needs can yield results that are not typical to all. How cannabis interacts with your body is entirely subjective and differs from person to person. So, what works perfectly for your homie may not necessarily be the best for you. This can be explained for a number of reasons, such as biochemistry, product quality, allergies, and so on.
If you’re just starting to smoke weed, experiment gently. Try smoking a low THC Indica strain, try pills, and try tinctures. For example, a 1:1 (THC: CBD) oil or edible will affect you differently from inhalants. The results of edibles are felt much slower as they must be digested and absorbed in the liver. Smoking allows the cannabinoids to enter your bloodstream directly. Faster effects mean falling asleep faster. If you know that you aren’t ready for bed right away, edible might be a better, slower play. With that, here are some of the best Indica (and hybrid) strains that’ll knock you out:
Blue God: A highly potent and pure Indica strain known for putting people to sleep—and quickly. With a 20% THC content, this powerful variety will leave you feeling physically relaxed and euphoric from the buzzy high. In addition to its helpful sleep-treating properties, it can also be used to effectively treat stress and chronic pain.
Girl Scout Cookies: Girl Scout Cookies is an Indica strain with 20% THC and 2% CBD. Though primarily known for its use to help treat depression, it is also known for its sedating, full-body relaxation effects, making it a good choice for those suffering from insomnia. Girl Scout Cookies is a very potent strain, so users are often advised to go slowly because it can produce strong psychoactive effects.
Cookie Jar: Speaking of cookies, Cookie Jar is another Indica-hybrid (derived from Platinum Girl Scout Cookies and White Fire Alien OG). This strain offers relief from those with anxiety but is perhaps best known for its sedative and full-body relaxation effects—a great option for those suffering from insomnia.
Harlequin: Though primarily an Indica-hybrid strain, Harlequin has a high amount of CBD—roughly 5:2 to THC. Despite the Sativa content, it is known as a relaxing strain that helps people fall and stay asleep. As a result of its low THC count, it is great for those with high anxiety-related insomnia while leaving minimal intoxication. It is typically available in flavours ranging from earthy musk to flowery notes of citrus.
White Widow: Afghanistan’s famous White Widow is a balanced Indica-hybrid strain that offers a property profile which leans more towards calming and relaxing while simultaneously providing a varied hallucinogenic effect. Comprised of 20% THC and 2% CBD, the White Widow is especially helpful for treating insomnia as a result of pain, anxiety, and depression.
Grape Ape: This Indica cannabis strain comes with a heavy reputation—one that is famous for producing a masterfully powerful high. While certainly not for the faint of heart, the effects of Grape Ape occur slowly, almost like a time-released effervescent. As such, it is great for helping people fall asleep and maintaining deep REM cycles. Sedative and relaxing, Grape Ape is also a key strain for the treatment of those suffering from anxiety.
Afghani CBD: As the name suggests, Afghani CBD is a very high content CBD strain. As such, it is helpful at reducing anxiety while also producing a lasting and calming effect that works wonders as a sleep aid. Additionally, Afghani CBD has been shown to reduce muscles spasms as a result of chronic pain, making it a top choice for patients suffering from conditions like MS and Parkinson’s Disease.
Comatose OG: Yep, this one may sound like a bit of a no-brainer. Comatose OG is the ideal hybrid strain for a full-body tranquilization. With THC levels pushing 30%, users can expect a deep body high that can leave you (figuratively) immobile for quite a while. Comatose OG offers a ratio of about 80:20 Indica to Sativa, so it is great for a multitude of complaints, including pain, stress, and insomnia.
Dutch Treat: The always favourable Dutch Treat Indica strain features a highly potent THC component that makes it ideal for relaxing and quiet introspection, leaving little room for productivity—so best to keep it available as a nighttime option.
Gorilla Glue #4: Original Glue, or Gorilla Glue #4, is one of the most renowned Indica strains in the world, famous for its sleep-boosting qualities. Packed with heavy potency, Gorilla Glue offers a strong, euphoric body high—great for unwinding and relaxing, as well as a deep sleep thanks to its high THC levels. Gorilla Glue is also famous for providing users with a sense of intense hunger (the munchies), so keep this in mind.
Kryptonite: Kryptonite is an intense, Indica-dominant hybrid strain offering high levels of THC, with heavy sedating effects. Kryptonite can help reduce pain and anxiety while providing relaxation to help people fall, and stay, asleep. It is important to note that the effects of Kryptonite have often been shown to be varied from person to person. Some have found it to be creatively stimulating, while others consider it the ideal strain for right before bedtime.
Weed and Sleep Science
Indica strains—particularly those offering high levels of CBD—continue to show promise during independent sleep studies. For example, over the years, CBD has demonstrated great success in its ability to reduce anxiety, which can be helpful in reducing sleep difficulties and improving sleep quality. CBD may also increase overall sleep periods and improve insomnia—it has even been shown to reduce insomnia in people suffering from chronic pain. In smaller doses, CBD promotes alertness, restricts daytime sluggishness, and bolsters general performance during the wake cycle.
In addition to those who are sleep deprived, there have even been studies conducted on CBD’s effect on bodies during sleep. CBD may help to improve REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep abnormalities in people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), as well as those suffering from REM behaviour disorder—a serious medical condition where people act out physically during dreaming, leading to disruptive sleep and potential injury.
Scientists have made a lot of progress in understanding how high-CBD Indica strains produce their calming, pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory effects in the body—and there is still much more to learn. What has been established is CBD’s interaction with many different receptors, proteins, and other chemicals in the human brain. Such interactions create changes in the activity of hormones and neurotransmitters throughout the brain and body. It is through these interactions that CBD seems to be able to affect many of the body’s functions, from inflammation, pain reception, and seizures, to sleep-wake cycles.
Best indica strains for anxiety
As with any therapeutic marijuana treatment to control your anxiety, it is important that you do some research—and, if possible, experimenting—to find out which strain works for you. But you’ve come to the right place to start. A rule of thumb: when treating anxiety at a therapeutic level, strains with higher levels of CBD are generally preferred to ones with greater levels of the hallucinogenic THC (a well-balanced strain is also great)—those living with anxiety are not likely to respond well to finding themselves in a further altered state. Here are some of the best high-CBD Indica or Indica-hybrid strains that you can experiment for anxiety:
CBD Shark: This well-balanced, Indica-dominant hybrid strain is known for its equal ratio of CBD to THC, meaning it is effective at reducing anxiety without producing any heavy, intoxicating after-effects. CBD Shark produces clear-mindedness—an excellent variety for those suffering from sleeping issues as a result of chronic pain.
Canna-Tsu: Canna-Tsu is a hybrid strain that combines the genetics from two CBD-heavy parents, Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami. Resultantly, Canna-Tsu is known for its high levels of CBD—roughly 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC, which may result in some psychoactive side effects (preferable for use on a night in). In addition to its calming effect, Canna-Tsu also produces mental clarity and anti-inflammatory properties, great for those who may be dealing with seizures and/or chronic pain.
Harle-Tsu: Known far and wide for its commanding and effective anxiety-relieving properties, Harle-Tsu (another member of the Sour Tsunami family) claims very high levels of CBD—often 20 times the amount of its THC equivalent. Harle-Tsu produces feelings of intense relaxation while simultaneously decreasing stress levels, leaving users feeling blissful and euphoric.
Haoma: Haoma is a high-potency, 70% Indica strain with many calming and stress-relieving effects. It is typically found to be about a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC—meaning some may experience a psychoactive effect. As a result of the higher levels of CBD, Haoma is great for helping to reduce with crippling feelings of anxiety. As there are a few different varieties of Haoma, CBD levels vary across each type.
Cannatonic: Cannatonic is known for its low THC and high CBD content. It produces a relatively short-lived and mellowing high that many have also found to be uplifting and relaxing (owing, in part, to the high CBD content). As one of the premier medical strains available, Cannatonic is often used to treat pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, migraines, and a variety of other physiological and psychological issues.
A-10: A-10 is an Indica strain with a high yield of THC and CBD properties. Though perhaps best known for its supplementary use by those experiencing chronic pain, it also helps to reduce anxiety and alleviate headaches—particularly chronic migraines. High levels of THC (and long-lasting potency) make it a perfect remedy for sleep trouble, too; as a counter, A-10’s equally high CBD content keeps you asleep, meaning you won’t be awake to experience the psychotropic THC sensations.
Trident: Trident is a high-CBD Indica strain that helps people stay mentally focused and alert. It typically features CBD levels that range between 10% and 12%, while its THC levels typically fall below 5%. Famous for its relaxing and euphoric effects, Trident is very effective at helping people control issues of anxiety and stress. Note: there is the potential of experiencing some mild form of psychoactivity when using Trident, so exercise caution.
Strawberry Banana: Strawberry Banana is a 70/30 Indica-dominant cannabis strain that has shown great potential as a supplementary treatment for anxiety and depression. A genetic cross between Banana Kush and Bubble Gum, Strawberry Banana has a sweet and fruity flavor which gives the hybrid its name. The heavy resin yield and the high volume of THC in Strawberry Banana result in a euphoric, blissful effect that also heightens alertness and creativity—an ideal option for high-strung or clinically anxious users.
Valentine X: A variation on ACDC, Valentine X is a potent Indica hybrid strain that promises feelings of deep relaxation for those suffering from anxiety. It offers users a 25:1 ratio of CBD to THC, making it a great option for therapeutic relief from seizures, swelling, and fatigue.
The Science Behind Indica Strains for Anxiety
In independent studies, medical marijuana—particularly CBD—has been shown to help lower levels of anxiety in those who suffer from both generalize anxiety disorders as well as daily stress. Using mice as an example, Vanderbilt University determined that cannabinoid receptors were present in the part of the brain associated with emotion—particularly the fight or flight response (which many anxiety sufferers experience when faced with challenging physical, emotional and or social scenarios). It was determined that these receptors, present in mice, are similar to the ones present in the amygdala of humans, which could very well explain why it is that medical marijuana has often been found to be effective as a therapeutic treatment for people who experience intense levels of anxiety during moments of periodic or persistent stress. While the study yielded limited tangible results, it is a promising sign of things to come.
Best Indica Strains For Pain
Over the centuries, there have been significant developments in the treatment of analgesics for chronic or periodic pain. Opiates seem to be the go-to nowadays, and this invites its own issues, especially considering the epidemic of abuse and addiction associated with painkillers. Though prescription pills are highly effective for treating long-term pain, even when taken properly, they can lead to internal damage, thus compounding an already stressful situation – not to mention addiction.
While each cannabis variety affects users differently, many have found relief from pain symptoms in strains that are high in levels of THC—while CBD, though calmer, is equally helpful for nerve pain, swelling and inflammation. Remember: highly potent THC strains provide greater psychoactive effects, so exercise caution when using during the day. Or, consider a high CBD strain during working hours, and a stronger THC-heavy option when you know you will be in a more laid back environment—find a cannabis strain, method, and dosage that works best for you. Here are some Indica or Indica-hybrid strains that have been shown to be helpful in relieving chronic pain.
Candyland: Candyland is a hybrid of Granddaddy Purple and Bay Platinum Cookies. It is highly effective at alleviating muscle pain and joint tension, while simultaneously relieving stress and fatigue. Candyland is also a potent strain, as its THC levels can reach up to 25%; low CBD and cannabinol (CBN) points are each around 1%.
OG Kush: OG Kush is an Indica-dominant strain known worldwide for its soaring THC levels, often reaching as high as 26% (with a low counter CBD content). Though helpful at relieving chronic pain and muscle spasms, OG Kush is recognized as one of the more psychoactive strains of cannabis on the market.
Romulan: This pure Indica strain is known for its stimulating medical and therapeutic properties. Romulan is an ideal strain for eliminating the symptoms of chronic pain while also providing restfulness and calmness—great for beating insomnia, too. However, exercise caution with this potent strain as the effects will hit fast and hard—preferable for nighttime use only.
Bubba Kush: Bubba Kush is a potent Indica strain, offering as much as 25% THC and impossibly low levels of CBD. Considered to be a hybrid of Northern Lights and OG Kush (above) which came about accidentally during pollination, Bubba Kush is incredibly helpful in alleviating muscle tension and lowering stress.
Skywalker OG: Affectionately billed as the lovechild of OG Kush and Skywalker, this Indica-dominant and highly potent strain might not be best for beginners. Known for its pungent taste and smell, Skywalker OG is, however, ideal for those looking to properly chill out. A super-heavy high, instantly. Also great for those with chronic pain or injury.
Headband: Headband is a hybrid of the Indica-dominant OG Kush and Sour Diesel. It contains 20-27% THC and less than 1% CBD, meaning it can help greatly to relax muscle strains and relieve general pain. It is also known for its long-lasting, psychoactive effects, so if you prefer to avoid hallucinations, take only before bed.
Hawaiian Purple Kush: The aptly named Hawaiian Purple Kush is an effective, 80% Indica-dominant hybrid of parent strains Hawaiian and Purple Kush. It is comprised of roughly 15% THC and milder levels of CBD—perfect for nerve and muscle relaxation. In addition to its pain-relieving qualities, Hawaiian Purple Kush also yields a general blissful sensation, making a great choice for those struggling with sleep trouble and insomnia.
ACDC: One of the highest CBD strains available, ACDC is a powerful hybrid that offers a maximum yield—roughly a 20:1 ratio of CBD:THC. This unique variety is particularly helpful at reducing chronic pain as well as severe anxiety and depression, with little to no psychoactive effects.
Hindu Kush: Hindu Kush is another powerful Indica strain with a roughly 14% THC content. Known for its ability to alleviate severe pain and headaches, Hindu Kush is also ideal if you are suffering from sleepless nights caused by pain. The cannabis strain is also helpful at relieving stress-related disorders and nausea. Hindu Kush is known to induce a deeply calming effect that can help people relax and fall asleep.
The Science Behind Indica Strains for Chronic Pain
As much as 20% of the population lives with chronic pain, which is not to be confused with acute pain (that normal sensory feeling that alerts you when you are experiencing illness or injury). Chronic pain is a nagging and persistent issue that can rarely be attributed to any one type of sickness. In chronic sufferers, pain is sudden and lasting, repetitive and constant; it can last for years, and typically comes in the form of back pain, migraines or headaches, facial ache, and neck pain. It is a devastating affliction to live with. Victims will often resort to anything in order to obtain some semblance of quality of life. For many, finding an effective method of combating chronic pain can be a total game-changer.
In 2011, a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology analyzed 22 controlled trials focusing on the use of cannabinoids to treat subjects experiencing chronic, non-cancer related pain. With 766 participants, reviewers were able to identify, in 18 out of the 22 trials, that THC cannabis strains offered an analgesic effect for pain suffers. There was also no report of serious side effects throughout the course of these trials, although some participants expressed feelings of fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and dry mouth. Such side effects are exceptionally tame when compared to those of pharmaceutical treatments and prescription opiates.
Best Indica Strains to grow at home
So, let’s say you find something that works for you, and you want to incorporate the plant into your everyday life. But it’s expensive and depending on where you live, the legalities of obtaining marijuana—even for medicinal/supplement purposes—varies massively. If you happen to live in Canada, where recreational marijuana use is legal, or certain areas of the US, obtaining some of the above-mentioned Indica strains should be relatively simple. It is all a question of doing some adequate research. However, if you are interested in cultivating your own crop (again, with the understanding that it is legal in your region), you may want to consider some of the bushy, fast-flowering options below. Quality seeds are easy to order online.
Dark Star: Dark Star is a powerful Indica hybrid strain (derived from Purple Kush; about 20% THC content) that grows stout and flowers purple coloured buds in little time. While Dark Star works best as an indoor plant, it can be cultivated outside in dry to moderate climates, yielding flowers within about 10 weeks.
Purple Kush: Like it’s hybrid offshoot Dark Star, Purple Kush is a perfect plant for beginners—easy to grow and high yielding. Purple Kush is one of the strongest Indica strains available, with a whopping average 27% THC. It is a relatively mould-resistant plant, making it perfect for growing outdoors in damp, humid climates.
Lithium OG: Lithium OG is a great Indica-dominant hybrid that not only offers a long-lasting high but a calming and euphoric one at that. With proper pruning, this dense-budded Indica strain grows into a perfect bushy structure indoors. Outside, a very dry climate is required in order to promote flower growth (usually three months).
Northern Lights x Big Bud: Simply put: this unusual strain is one of the best, simplest Indicas to grow indoors. However, for the experienced grower, the potential for yield is great if you know how to cultivate properly. Northern Lights x Big Bud is an ideal indoor plant but can be nurtured outside in dry to fair climate, provided the leaves are kept clean and significant airflow is allowed.
Automated Grow Boxes
It’s 2019 and people are coming up with some pretty ingenious ways to simplify, automate and correct monotonous tasks – including growing weed!
Grobo One Capacity: Grow 3 ounces every 3-4 months.
Seedo Capacity: Grow 90 grams in 90 days.
In summary: the top three standout indica strains
The Kush family: Whether it’s the powerful momma plant Purple Kush, or the mellow offshoot strain Hawaiian Purple Kush, this variety of Indica is a great beginner plant for many reasons: it’s easy to grow indoors, has mild levels of CBD for relaxation and pain relief, and calms the body into a blissful slumber. Definitely a top choice!
Cannatonic: Cannatonic and its various offshoots appear frequently on best-of lists, due primarily to its prestige and reputation in the medical community. Again, this premier Indica strain is used to treat muscle aches, strains, and spasms, anxiety disorders, a variety of chronic pain symptoms, all the while promoting restfulness and relaxation.
Romulan: Another premium Indica-heavy strain with powerful therapeutic effects, Romulan is a go-to for medical marijuana patients seeking relief from various kinds of pain—both physical and mental. While the intense body high makes it one of the best marijuana strains for chronic pain (specifically back pain and muscle spasms), its relaxing and sleep-inducing qualities make it an all-around winner.
There you have it! The best Indica strains of all time to use as an alternative medical therapy, the most user-friendly options for at-home cultivation, and, of course, the best of the best. Whether treating aggressive forms of insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain—or a combination of all—the right variety of Indica cannabis can be a useful substitute as well as an effective, natural treatment to help you live a better, healthier life. And get really, really, really stoned.