If you’re interested in how cannabis partners with the body, you’re probably familiar with the most important families of cannabis compounds, the cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, and the terpenes such as myrcene and limonene.
But while these two groups are important players in the cannabis ecosystem, today we’re going to zoom out to focus on something a little different: The story of indica, sativa, and hybrid strains.
As we’ll see, the words “indica” and “sativa” have a long history when it comes to cannabis. Hybrid strains? Not so much. But understanding hybrid strains’ effects and characteristics is equally crucial when it comes to classifying cannabis and its effects. In today’s post, we’ll share everything we know about hybrid strains, including:
- Where did the terms “indica” and “sativa” come from, and what do they mean today?
- What are hybrid strains of cannabis?
- What are indica-dominant and sativa-dominant hybrid strains?
- How do you choose the best hybrid strains for you?
- Some favorite hybrid cannabis strains you can try for yourself, including the strongest hybrid strains
That’s a lot of ground to cover! So, without further ado, let’s crack into the topic of hybrid cannabis strains.
Hybrid Strains: Understanding the Indica/Sativa Divide
Even if you’re new to cannabis, you’ve probably encountered the terms “indica” and “sativa” before. As two of the most historically significant classifications in cannabis, they’re important words to know, both for their usefulness in helping us understand cannabis—and in their limitations.
The names “indica” and “sativa” were first used by European botanists in the middle of the 18th century to describe two types of cannabis plants that, at the time, appeared to be completely distinct species. These days, many researchers believe there’s really one species of cannabis, but for the time being, we’ll stay on track and steer clear of that debate.
At that time, when these types of cannabis were first getting their scientific names, the botanists categorizing them were less concerned with their potential psychoactivity than with their objective characteristics. Thus, “sativa” referred to the tall, stalky hemp plants primarily grown in Europe and Eurasia for their fiber, seeds, and oil, while “indica” plants were the squat, bushy ones with psychoactive properties that had originated in the Kush region of Southeast Asia.
These days, the words “sativa” and “indica” are more commonly used to differentiate between the subjective effects of different cannabis strains. Sativa plants are often described as being “energizing” or “cerebrally stimulating.” Indica plants, on the other hand, are often described as imparting a heavily relaxing, body-centered experience.
But here’s the thing: Many—if not most—strains of cannabis available today are hybrids. That’s because, over the centuries, cannabis cultivators have crossed different strains (also called cultivars) for specific outcomes, such as increased cannabinoid production or a unique terpene profile. It’s common to see hybrid cannabis strains labeled as “sativa-dominant,” “indica-dominant,” or “balanced.”
Above and beyond this, some people feel that the labels “sativa” and “indica” are so arbitrary as to be meaningless. That said, here at Green Goods, we continue to use them. Why? As many of our customers tell us, these terms—while they may be technically lacking—help them make better purchasing decisions when it comes to cannabis. And having happy customers who are getting the results they want from cannabis medicine is something we’re deeply committed to here.
Choosing the Best Hybrid Strains: THC, Terpenes, and Other Factors
If you study cannabis labels, you’ll see that hybrid strains are often described as being indica- or sativa-dominant. This provides a good clue as to that strain’s subjective experience and whether it tends more towards energizing or relaxing effects. But is there a more scientific way to look at the question?
We made reference to cannabinoids earlier in this article, and they’re a topic worth returning to. As many cannabis researchers agree, even more than their standing as sativa, indica, or hybrid plants, a given strain’s cannabinoid content is probably the single best way to predict its effects.
As you’re probably aware, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most abundant cannabinoid in most cannabis strains, and the one most directly responsible for the cannabis plant’s distinctive intoxicating “high.” That’s not the only way it’s interacting with our bodies, however. Studies suggest that THC can help relieve pain, may help treat insomnia, and has a marked effect on nausea and appetite.
Then there’s CBD (cannabidiol). It’s not intoxicating in the way THC is (though some people describe a gentle cerebral “lift”). Thus far, studies support its usefulness in treating pain and inflammation, anxiety, and certain types of seizures, among several other intriguing effects.
Does the amount of CBD affect the subjective experience of cannabis? There’s a healthy debate on that question. For instance, some studies have suggested CBD mitigates some side effects of THC, such as degradation of motor control and paranoia, while other studies find no such beneficial effect.
So for the moment, at least, we’ll go on the record stating that the amount of THC you ingest is the single most important factor in a given strain’s effects. And as we’ve explored previously, sometimes less is actually more. The majority of cannabis users actually report deriving greater benefits from smaller amounts of cannabis.
What about terpenes, the aromatic and flavorful oils that largely determine how a given cannabis strain smells and tastes? Many researchers are coming to the conclusion that a strain’s terpene profile plays a large role in the overall consumption experience.
The problem is that because of the sheer number of compounds involved—there are over 150 terpenes found in cannabis—comparing one or more cannabis strains isn’t a straightforward affair. That said, a growing number of studies are starting to crack the code regarding the interactions between cannabinoids, terpenes, and our bodies.
This interaction, by the way, is sometimes called the “ensemble” (or “entourage”) effect, and it’s one we’ll keep reporting on as new information becomes available.
The content and variety of cannabinoids and terpenes are additional details you can start to track when deciding if a particular hybrid is a good fit for you.
The Best Hybrid Strains: The Green Goods Curated List
While the question of “best” strains is by nature a very personal one, here at Green Goods we spend a lot of time listening to what our customers tell us about different strains. So, with that in mind, here’s a list of a few of the most popular hybrid strains of cannabis our customers love.
This uniquely balanced hybrid hits you with a most unusual combination of flavors and aromas: Think sweet ripe grapes mixed with pungent garlic. At 16.6%, the relatively moderate THC amount means GMO Punch can be enjoyed both day and night as a well-rounded way to access a flavorful bit of tranquility.
As one of the most legendary and historically significant hybrid strains, Jack Herer is often described as imparting a “perfect blend” of cerebral and physical effects, inspiring a burst of creative energy and focus that makes it especially popular for daytime use.
With a very potent THC percentage (typically just under 28%), this unusual cultivar is one of the strongest hybrid strains. And with consumers reporting calming, socially engaging, and creatively stimulating effects, Chesapeake Haze is the perfect example of how a well-balanced hybrid strain can deliver the best of both worlds.
An indica-dominant hybrid strain, Granddaddy Purple (aka Granddaddy Purp) tends to impart body-centered, relaxing effects. These effects have elevated Granddaddy Purp to near-legendary status in the medical cannabis arena, where it’s known for its ability to help quell stress, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.
As a cross between two superstar strains—Wedding Cake and Kush Mints—this balanced hybrid strain delivers a sweet, skunky, and slightly indica-leaning experience. This means Wedding Mints may be best enjoyed later in the day when its more relaxing effects can be felt to their full potential.
As one of the most popular hybrid strains ever introduced, Blue Dream is renowned for classic sativa-leaning effects. People love its uplifting yet relaxing psychoactivity; many patients also report that this strain is effective in treating depression, chronic pain, and nausea.
White Grapefruit Cookies
What happens when you mix Lemonberry with Tropicana Cookies? A super flavorful, orange blossom-scented taste sensation! While White Grapefruit Cookies offers a more or less balanced experience, its somewhat energizing effects have earned it a reputation as one of the best sativa hybrid strains available in Maryland.
What Are the Best Hybrid Strains? Find Them with Green Goods!
As we hope we’ve made clear, the world of hybrid strains is a vast one, encompassing many (if not most) of the strains we’ve come to know and love.
Speaking of which, if you’re curious about trying the best hybrid strains available in Maryland or Minnesota, the nearest Green Goods location is just a click away! You can browse our wide selection of hybrids online or shop in-store today. Or, if you have any other questions about how to choose hybrid strains—or any cannabis-related topics—just ask! We’re always here to help.