Associated with feelings of comfort and relaxation, indica strains can be a powerful wellness aid for nighttime relaxation and deep sleep. But when you first start exploring your options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices! You may want the most potent strains available, or perhaps start with something more mellow to find your sweet spot.
Either way—knowing about THC levels and other characteristics will help you make the right pick every time. Learning about strain strength and potency is a great place to start.
Potency varies greatly among the hundreds of indica and indica-dominant strains currently cultivated. In this article, we will take a deep look at some of the most potent cannabis indica strains.
What is Cannabis indica?
Classified by the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785, Cannabis indica is the botanical name for the indica variety of the cannabis plant. Indica is indigenous to the Kush Mountains bordering India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where it has historically been used to produce hashish.
The typical indica plant is dense and bush-like, growing to about two to four feet. Its squatter structure and proximity to the ground improve water retention in dry mountain conditions, producing unique properties and certain benefits over sativa strains.
Indica leaves are broad with rounded tips tending to be dark green in color. Much like the plant’s structure, the buds of indica plants are dense, dark green with occasional purple and blue hues.
Indica plants are most often sought out to support sleep quality and reduce feelings of discomfort—a result of its signature “body high.”
How are indica and sativa different?
Until recently, Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa were considered two different species of the cannabis plant due to the differences in their appearance. But molecular testing has helped us understand they are actually the same plant, visually distinguished by the unique climate and environmental conditions of their place of origin.
Native to Central Asia, the sativa plant grows tall and slender, capable of reaching heights easily six feet or more, with an open structure reminiscent of a Christmas tree. Its elongated leaves have pointed tips that tend to be lighter shades of green.
The highly prized flowers, or buds, of sativa are long and cylindrical with a looser structure than indica, and users report uplifting, energizing, and euphoric feelings when consuming sativa. In terms of color, they typically range from pale green to yellow, with pink hues.
Compare a few indica and sativa plants, and you’ll quickly learn to tell the difference on sight!
Do indica and sativa produce different effects?
The psychoactive high and benefits that come along with it is one of the prized attributes of any strain. Sativa is associated with what is known as the “head high.” This elevated mental state can accompany feelings of euphoria, stimulation, and uplift. This makes it a popular choice for engaging in creative pursuits like music and visual arts.*
Indica strains often have this head high, along with a noted “body high,” which can have a sedating, relaxing effect. Stereotypically, indica strains are most often the go-to when it's time to settle down for bed or do other quiet activities that might benefit from a serene state of being.*
There are many hybrid strains that crossbreed Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa plants highlighting specific terpenes and cannabinoids to make strains that offer a best-of-both-worlds experience.
What are the strongest indica strains?
Indica strains typically run the gamut in terms of THC content and potency. Let’s take a look at some of the strongest indica strains and their unique properties.
The kush strain is among the most well-known of all cannabis strains. It is considered one of the earliest cannabis strains in the world and has given birth to many variations, including Hindu Kush, OG Kush, and Bubba Kush.
This indica-dominant family of strains is native to the Kush Mountains bordering on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. The Afghan Kush strain is considered to be the prototype for indica genetics.
Kush strains produce dense buds of a deep green color with a slight purple hue on their dark green leaves. The buds themselves have orange pistils, or hair-like filaments. Its aroma tends to be earthy and floral.
Proponents of this popular strain report effects of relaxation and sedation, offering indica-associated benefits, including support for sleep quality, a sense of well-being, and drowsiness. Depending on the strain, some kush subtypes lend feelings of euphoria and focus.
Since the kush family has a wide range of strains, THC content can vary from 20% to 26%, firmly placing it in the highly potent category.
Developed in the Netherlands in the early 90s and found in Dutch coffee shops ever since, the legendary White Widow strain takes its name from its resinous buds. They are covered in sticky, shiny trichomes which appear like white crystals across its surface.
This hybrid strain is considered to be balanced, a 50/50 cross between South Indian indica plants and South American sativa plants. Its genetics have made it popular amongst growers as it is more climate resistant than other strains.
White Widow is most easily identified by the proliferation of white trichomes on its dense pale green buds and leaves. Its flavor is piney and earthy, with a pungent and savory aroma.
White Widow has around 20-22% THC content and offers a balanced high, with users reporting an uplifting, energized feeling that eventually settles into feelings of heavy relaxation. It has birthed the popular White Russian and Blue Widow strains.
Northern Lights is one of the most sought-after indica strains, but its origins are somewhat of a mystery. It is believed to have been cultivated in Seattle in the 70s before making its way to coffee shops in the Netherlands.
This pure indica strain has dense buds that are thick and resinous, with earthy and piney aromas of the forest. Its high levels of the terpene myrcene contribute to its pungent, sweet, and refreshing taste.
With a THC content of around 18%, the Northern Lights strain offers all the desirable relaxing and sedative effects of an indica, making it an ideal counterpart to meditation, reading, and other mindful activities.
Named after CIA experiments on mind control in the 1950s, the award-winning MK Ultra strain is known for inducing drowsiness and “couch lock,” a hallmark of indica strains.
This highly productive plant produces high yields of resinous buds, making it a favored strain amongst growers. Rich in myrcene and limonene, the aroma is reminiscent of citrus and, when smoked, has a lingering piney and earthy taste. Featuring THC levels of around 18%, it has earned its place in the cannabis hall of fame with considerable potency.
Super Lemon Haze
Super Lemon Haze gets its name from its limonene-rich terpene profile that lends it a bold citrus flavor and aroma. This crossbreed of Lemon Haze and Super Silver Haze is sativa-dominant, providing pronounced feelings of energy and focus combined with a relaxing body high.
This high-yielding variety grows to heights of six feet or taller and produces speckled green and brown buds with a THC content ranging between 19-25%.
One of the most well-known strains developed in the 90s, Sour Diesel is a sativa-dominant hybrid of the Super Skunk and Chemdawg strains. Its name comes from the lingering sour taste that is described as skunky and diesel-like, a result of its myrcene, limonene, and caryophyllene heavy terpene profile.
With THC content around 19% or higher, sour diesel gives a cerebral and energizing high, ideal for daytime use, but others may find it useful in reducing low mood and feelings of tension.
What should you consider when choosing a strain?
Considering what strain to use is a highly personal choice. Depending on the ratio of compounds, a given strain can affect each of us differently.*
Here are some top considerations to take into account when choosing a strain.
Flavor and aroma preferences
Flavor and aroma can heighten the enjoyment of indica strains and, as users' palates become more sophisticated with experience, an important deciding factor.
Two naturally occurring sets of compounds, terpenes, and flavonoids, form the backbone of a plant's flavor and aroma profile. Myrcene and limonene are just two of the compounds responsible for the range of desirable earthy, pungent, citrusy, and piney flavors we find in cannabis.
Consult any of the many online resources for the terpene profile of different strains, or discuss with your budtender at your local dispensary to find the flavor and aroma experience you seek.
Indica strains are generally the right choice for nighttime use because of their relaxing benefits, including easing discomfort and supporting sleep quality. But the whole picture can be more complicated.*
If settling down into a comfortable “body high” is your goal, consider whether the strain you’ve chosen is indica or sativa-dominant, as an energizing sativa-dominant strain may be counterproductive to your goals.
The method of delivery also determines how you absorb cannabis compounds and process the high THC levels of certain plants. Smoking cannabis tends to produce a more rapid and intense psychoactive high, while edibles such as live resin gummies with CBD offer prolonged experiences with a wider range of effects.*
THC content is always an important factor to consider, especially for those dipping their toes into the world of indicas for the first time. Choosing an overly potent strain can be the difference between a cozy, relaxed experience and an unpleasant one.
All of the strains we’ve discussed are moderately high to potent, so when trying them for the first time, start low and go slow, observing the effects on your unique body. Remember that a little goes a long way with high-THC strains—no matter the delivery method.
The bottom line
Cannabis indica can be a powerful tool in supporting wellness in your life, especially for those looking for a calm mind, reduced feelings of tension, and better sleep quality.
Our 1:1:1 Beyond Indica Live Resin Gummies are extracted from the highest quality plants and with their even ratio of THC, CBD, and CBN, they offer a balanced addition to your nighttime routine.*
Explore cannabis indica and beyond by checking out our full collection of wellness products here.