Northern Lights Strain Profile & Effects

Is this strain as illuminating as it sounds? Find out in this article.

We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.

There are now more cannabis strains on the market than you can imagine, with new ones popping up every other day. Due to advancements in cannabis cultivation and breeding, these new strains are often hybridised, meaning they are cross-bred with other strains until a plant with the breeder's ideal features is created. 

Through this process of optimisation, we often lose some of the features that separate these strains from their original, naturally-occurring counterparts. But this is not always the case, as this next strain demonstrates. Much like the aurora borealis, this strain is just another one of nature's wonders. Our guide to 2020's most popular strains continues with the Northern Lights Strain.

Northern Lights is a legendary indica strain that descends from indigenous Afghani and Thai landrace strains. While the exact origins of this strain remain a mystery, it is believed that it first propagated in Seattle, Washington before being cultivated and sold from the Netherlands in 1985 at what is now known as Sensi Seeds. Due to its history, Northern Lights has numerous phenotypes that can be found on the market. 

The strong indica effects that this strain is cherished for typically remain the same across all variations. The mind- and body-numbing high produces heavy-handed euphoria and relaxation, making this strain a favourite amongst recreational and medical cannabis consumers alike. In fact, this award-winning strain has quite the legacy, making it one of the most famous and coveted indica strains in the world.


Northern Lights has a THC content that can range anywhere between 14-19% THC. Its average content of 16.5% THC puts it on par with the average indica strain (17.6% THC). While the average strain is mild, the ones on the higher end can still be potent for novice consumers, so caution is advised. No relevant amounts of CBD are found within this strain.

Northern Lights is as close to a pure indica (90-95%) as you can get on the market, so you can expect it to induce high levels of relaxation and sedation. This strain is well-renowned for relaxing both the mind and the body, leaving the consumer in a blissful and lazy state.

Initially, the high sets in as heavy yet pleasant physical relaxation. It doesn't take long before consumers will start to feel and sleepy and sedated, eventually resulting in couchlock. Although some consumers report an increase in motivation or focus, this strain is less cerebral than others. It is able to slow down any racing thoughts, helping the consumer to mellow out.

This strain induces a dreamy and euphoric headspace, with a tendency to increase happiness. The light psychoactive effects may provoke introspection and make your surroundings more vibrant, however these will soon fade as the sedation slowly starts to set in. Given these effects, this strain is mostly recommended for nighttime use, particularly right before bed.

One of the many reasons Northern Lights is such a popular strain is its numerous medical benefits. This strain has analgesic properties and is often utilised to manage all sorts of aches and pains throughout the body. This includes chronic pain, joint pain, cancer-related pain, muscle tension, headaches, migraines and even inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It can also quell nausea and is a potent appetite stimulator, which is helpful in managing the side-effects of conditions such as cancer and anorexia.

When combined with the mind-numbing high, this strain's mood-lifting effects are helpful in combatting symptoms related to depression, anxiety and PTSD. Many consumers turn to this strain as a way to de-stress after a long day. The condition that Northern Lights is the most effecting in managing though is insomnia. Sedation, pain relief and anxiolytic effects are the perfect recipe for putting your mind and body at ease to enjoy a good night's sleep.

Appearance, Smell & Taste

As expected, Northern Lights has an appearance typical of most indica plants, with the main feature being the dense and tightly-packed bud clusters. These buds are quite colourful and, if you use your imagination, bear some resemblance to the aurora borealis after which they're named. They are a deep olive green colour, with streaks of purple and blue running throughout and are adorned by fiery orange stigmas. The buds are covered by trichomes resulting in a sticky resinous coating.

This strain is incredibly pungent, with a scent that hits your nostrils hard and can occupy any room if cured properly. It has a distinct kush smell, with sweet and spicy notes radiating from the buds. A subtle hint of citrus t breaks up this dank smell and giving it an invigorating scent. The main blend of terpenes that contribute to this overall aroma are myrcene (herbal), caryophyllene (peppery) and limonene (citrus).

Northern Lights has a flavour profile that is both complex and robust. Upon inhalation, you will taste an earthy and pine flavour that blends into something sweeter. This sweet and candy-like flavour becomes more apparent throughout the smoke and helps to balance out the initial skunkiness. The smoke is generally smooth and sometimes leaves a citrus aftertaste in the mouth. 


While Northern Lights may have originated in Washington, it is said that breeder Neville Schoenmaker cultivated several early phenotypes of this strain in the '80s. He developed these strains for Sensi Seeds, formerly known as the Seed Bank. The strain was first sold commercially in the Netherlands in 1985 and it has been a landmark indica strain since.

Sensi Seeds currently has feminised, non-feminised and auto-flowering Northern Lights seeds available. This strain is all readily available in most dispensaries throughout the legal states of the US, Canada and the Netherlands for both medical cardholders and recreational consumers alike. Because this strain is widely available and easy to grow, it is also affordable. You can expect to pay $12-15 AUD for a gram in most dispensaries.

Northern Lights has five popular phenotypes denoted by the strain's name and their individual number (e.g Northern Lights #1, etc.). The most popular phenotypes are Northern Lights #1 and #5, which won the Cannabis Cup in 1989 and 1990, respectively. Other variations and hybrids of this strain include Atomic Northern Lights, Northern Lights x Skunk and Northern Lights x Haze. If you're wanting to try some similar indica-leaning strains, then check out Blueberry, Purple Punch and Grape Ape.

This all-time strain is beloved by consumers and growers alike, thanks to its calming effects and fast flowering times. Its reputation as a fast-acting relaxant with numerous therapeutic benefits has seen many consumers utilise this strain medicinally. All these features help to explain why this strain has stood the test of time and is widely available today. With an already impressive legacy that is steadily being built upon, it is easy to see why Northern Lights is regarded as one of the best strains of all time.


Northern Lights Reviews

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Josh Griffin
Josh Griffin

Josh is a Perth-based writer with a background in psychology and pharmacology. Through his studies he has gained an interest in abnormal psychology, mental health and psychopharmacology and has reported on these topics. Currently, his main focus is on cannabinoids and their medical potential.

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