Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid strains—where do you start and what does it all mean? If you want to equip yourself with some basic knowledge before stepping into a dispensary, then you’ve come to the right place. While we’d be more than happy to tell you all about Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid strains at our Trinidad, Colorado dispensary or Pueblo dispensary it’s totally understandable that it can be overwhelming.
Whether you’re looking to reduce anxiety and sleep better, enjoy an elevated afternoon hike or concert, or just simply relax and have a good time, there’s a strain for that. Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strains are perceived to be different, but they also can all be used to help ease common ailments such as anxiety, insomnia, pain, emotional blockages, and more.
Before cannabis was commercialized, there were only two known types of available: cannabis Indica and cannabis Sativa. Over generations of crossbreeding to create the best Indica strain or the best Sativa strain, or even the best Hybrid strain, it is now super rare to find a pure Indica or Sativa strain.
Cannabis Indica originated in Europe and Eurasia and was cultivated for its fibrous stock and seeds. Cannabis Sativa was found in India and known for is psychoactive and uplifting effects.
It is now common for most strains of Cannabis to be Indica-dominant, Sativa-dominant or Hybrid. So while you’re wondering what the difference between Hybrid strains and Indica vs Sativa, there’s some cannabis 101 we need to cover first.
Interestingly enough, Indica vs Sativa can’t actually be tested to determine dominance. Because of this, it is important to remember that everyone is different. A strain that is calming for many may exacerbate anxiety in others.
There is, however, of course more to the story. And that brings us to the many compounds found in cannabis.
Since their earliest botanical descriptions, the plants have evolved into what we know them as today. There is a bit of a taxonomy debate happening in the cannabis industry as many argue that all cannabis that we consume today stemmed from cannabis Indica. Regardless, you can buy both strains in any dispensary, so it’s worth drilling down see what makes these Hybrid strains and Indica vs Sativa, different.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes
Given this debate, we are more apt to look at the most popular of the hundreds of compounds found in cannabis: cannabinoids and terpenes.
Popular cannabinoids like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), and CBN (cannabinol—less popular than the former two) are molecular structures with unique properties and physical benefits, and they are the main drivers of the therapeutic effects.
These three are just some of the 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis.
Terpenes are the oils that give cannabis different aromas. Terpenes are found in many plants and fruit including orange, lavender, pepper, hops, lemon, mango, cannabis, and many more. Extracted from plant resin, Terpenes and are responsible for the flavor and aroma of cannabis.
CBD vs THC
Hybrid strains, Indica strains, and Sativa strains all have THC in them. The variant is the percentage of both in the strain. There are many benefits to both CBD and THC—isolated and combined.
So what are the benefits of CBD?
Non-Psychoactive: CBD is non-psychoactive and is becoming very popular and widely used for its medicinal effects. It is also thought to be antipsychotic, aiding in reducing the sometimes psychosis-life effects of THC like paranoia. This also makes CBD a top choice for people to take throughout the day while being able to function normally.
Sedative: Because the body is relaxed and anxiety and stress are lowered, CBD helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. This also aids in reducing stress and anxiety as the body has a chance to rest and repair.
Anti-Anxiety: With a rested and relaxed body, there will be less generalized or chronic anxiety experienced overall. This helps to improve life overall from work to relationships, family to hobbies. There is an improvement of quality of life with less stress and anxiety.
Appetite Increase: Much more than the dreaded munchies, CBD is great to increase the appetite and help establish a regular and healthy relationship with food for someone who struggles with appetite.
What are the benefits of THC?
Depression Relief: When you can’t stop laughing, it’s hard to feel and acknowledge the depths of depression. But even outside the giggles, THC increases dopamine (the “happy hormone”) and enhances the dopamine receptors.
Energy Boost: THC is an energizing compound that helps you be more social, at ease in a crowd, and more open to new experiences that you feel would be good for you. When you’re at ease and happy within, you have more energy to take life on.
Cerebral Clarity: While CBD promotes a body high that allows the mind to wander, THC can actually sharpen the mind with its cerebral high. This can also create a boost of creativity and less mental blocks that the logical mind would put up.
Armed with this knowledge you can learn what your body responds to in relation to Hybrid strains and Indica vs Sativa to find strains that are more in line what that outcome.
Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant
The male plants pollinate the female plants, but what we consume today are generally large seedless female plants which produce potent and cannabinoid-rich buds without seeds. When female plants not pollinated, it does not produce seeds and this is when the cannabinoids are multiplied. Long gone are the days of picking out the seeds and stems to get lifted. Isn’t technology amazing?
The flower creates buds which grow out of nodes, located along the stems at the base of the large iconic fan leaves which grow in pairs. The term “flower” is used to describe the smokable bud you can purchase, but this term was also once used to refer to the flowering part of the plant, which included both male and female plants.
At the very top of the plant is the cola, the terminal bad. This is generally the largest on the plant, while smaller colas form along with the budding sites, at the nodes. The mature bud also produces the sparkly crystals that are called trichomes.
Regardless of the Hybrid Strain and Indica vs Sativa, all cannabis plants have the same anatomy.
The genetics of a cannabis plant has evolved over the years and most strains are now produced in a laboratory by scientists. Producing different strains, breeding out certain effects or physical factors, and getting creative are all the product of advancements in science and technology.
With the commercialization of cannabis, for medical and recreational use, there has been a lot that is happening behind the scenes to create a potent plant that can be used for very specific ailments. The manipulation of the DNA of cannabis has allowed for countless strains to be created and tested.
This has created what is known as “designer strains” that are blurring the lines between Hybrid strains and Indica vs Sativa—and they also have a price tag on them that rivals aged whiskey. Celebrities are even funding the science behind cannabis genetics and creating their own strains and brands that suit their desires from the plant. With the rapid growth and exploration of new frontiers, it’s clear that we are moving in the direction of a higher quality plant with potent medicinal benefits.
There is a lot of research being done on the nearly 25,000 genes in cannabis, helping scientists locate and isolate desirable and less desirable genes.
This advancement is allowing for much more manipulation and creativity in the cannabis industry and is thought by many to be the future of cannabis.
Hybrid Strains & Indica vs Sativa
Now that we know what compounds are in cannabis, the popular ones at least, we can begin to talk about the difference between Hybrid strains and Indica vs Sativa. Regardless of your favorite strain, the bud that you can buy from a dispensary is from a female plant. Cannabis plants can be either male, female, or both, but the large resin secreting flowers that are visibly more desirable are female.
The cannabis Indica plant has short, wide, dense, dark green leaves. An Indica plant looks more like a fat bush because they originated in dry climates and have compensated with wide leaves to absorb more sunlight. The height is usually less than 2 meters, about 6’5”. Indica plants are also more resistant to mold, therefore a popular choice for beginner growers.
Pure Indica landraces can be traced back to the continent of Asia, especially in the Hindu-Kush area (Afghanistan, Pakistan, North India, South China).
Indica plants have a short growth duration, typically eight weeks, with high yields. This has created an opportunity to harvest more frequently with less water, making Indica plants more readily available.
The buds of an Indica plant are very dense and heavy because of this adaptation to a dry climate. As the cannabis Indica plant matures, it becomes more dense, with darker leaves. The plant continues to grow as it begins to flower, stage two of growth, and this is when the dense buds are formed. An Indica bud will generally also be covered in the sparkly, sticky, and highly sought after crystals that are called trichomes.
Indica is easily most loved for its ability to reduce extreme stress and make sleepless nights a thing of the past. And with little to no fogginess of the head that can sometimes happen with sleep aids or sleeping pills, Indica is touted for this. When there is an excess of anxiety in the body, this translates to too much adrenaline in the body which perpetuates the flight or fight mode. This can exhaust the adrenal glands which inhibits sleep and many other vital functions. Indica will relax the entire body, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system some time to repair.
Most Indicas are a rich source of the popular cannabinoids THC, CBD and CBN. The effects of the Indica strain high are:
- Creates a body high
- Mental relaxation
- Eases headaches
- Reduced stress
- Muscle relaxation
- Decreased nausea
- Acute to chronic pain relief
- Increases appetite
- Eases seizures
- Assists in falling asleep and staying asleep
- Increases dopamine
- Nighttime use
Consuming an Indica plant will likely result in wanting to sleep, relax, watch a movie, listen to music, and be away from crowds. This is colloquially referred to as “in da couch” to help consumers remember which strain will induce relaxation. Indica strains are also more commonly used in medical marijuana due to the many positive effects for various ailments and the higher concentration of CBN and CBD.
The best Indica strains are: Afghani, Blueberry Haze, Durango OG, Northern Lights, Pineapple Kush, Purple Kush, and OG Kush.
The cannabis Sativa plant is tall and slender with light green, long leaves. This is a much less densely populated plant than cannabis Indica and also yields less over a longer period of time.
The leaves of the Sativa plant are fewer and further apart on the main stem of the plant. This creates lighter, less dense buds that have long feathery leaves. The spacing of the Sativa plant allows for more airflow to combat fungus as they originated in more humid, tropical environments.
These environments where the Sativa plant originated generally experienced long periods of sunlight, and the plants continue to grow even during the flowering phase. Whereas Indica plants max out on height to direct energy to flowering. Sativa plants can reach 6 meters, almost 20’ and have a longer growth duration than Indica, taking anywhere from twelve to sixteen weeks.
Sativa strains are known to be the life of the party as they promote a more energetic effect. The lightness of the buds correlates to the lightness of the high, although the medicinal properties are not light at all. All cannabis can be used for medical purposes and depending on the ailment, Sativa-dominant strains are going to be more effective than Indica or Hybrid. In addition to the genetics and crossbreeding happening, ailments are being more effectively isolated.
It is said that Sativa strains can assist in creativity due to the cerebral high of the strain. Many people like to microdose (taking the fraction of a typical dose by either smoking or eating edibles) with Sativa to fuel creativity and reduce anxiety. The creative process is largely linked to a calm mind and Sativa is perfect for that. Now, that’s not to say that we are condoning you lighting up before walking into work, but it could help creative projects and even just creative thinking flourish.
Sativa strains have fewer cannabinoids like CBD and CBN, and higher THC. The medical and recreational effects of the Sativa strain are:
- Cerebral high
- Energetic high
- Good for nausea and vomiting
- Increases focus and creativity
- Increases serotonin
- More laughter/giggles
- Eases depression and mood disorders
- Helps ease ADD/ADHD
- Ability to socialize and be creative
- Daytime use
Consuming a Sativa plant will have you wanting to go on an adventure and explore something new. This social, giggly strain is perfect to consumer before concerts, hikes, a walk around the block, or sharing with new friends.
The best Sativa strains are: Cherry Diesel, Durban Poison, Ghost Train Haze, Green Crack, Lucky Charms, Lucinda Williams, and Pineapple Express.
As you guessed it, Hybrid strains are a beautiful crossbreed between Indica and Sativa. With this blend, there can be Indica-dominant, Sativa-dominant, or some that are just in the middle of both strains. The genetics of a Hybrid can vary depending on the dominant strain, just like humans, but that still isn’t the only factor to determine what effects a Hybrid strain will have. And again, everyone is different.
Hybrid strains also look different, with their stems, leaves, and buds a marriage of Indica and Sativa. The leaves are longer than Indica but shorter than Sativa and a true forest green color. The colas produce buds that aren’t super dense like Indica, but also less airy and lighter than Sativa.
With Hybrid strains, it is important to understand THC percentage, CBD percentage, lineage, etc. Just as there are different types of hops, wine varieties, and even dogs, Hybrid strains are of a single origin (cannabis) but have been bred to be very different.
Hybrid strains are a great option for someone who wants a middle of the road effect. This balance can produce both a mind and body effect, blending the most desirable effects of each strain into one that is separate. Because of the crossbreeding, that has been happening for decades now, it is likely that most strains you encounter are truly Hybrid. There are very (very) few pure Indica or pure Sativa strains available now.
The many active cannabinoids create a wide range of effects, making the thousands of available Hybrid strains different from each other based on taste (terpenes) and psychoactive effect (THC). These different rations make Hybrid strains very desirable and distinct.
Hybrid strains vs Indica and Sativa are actually great for beginners. If you don’t consume often, you may have a smoother experience with a balanced strain like a Hybrid. OG Kush, for example, is known as both and Indica strain and an Indica dominant Hybrid strain. While the debate is still out over whether this is truly Hybrid, as opposed to pure Indica, the popularity of this strain is infamous.
The best Hybrid strains are: Blue Dream, Blue Kush, Gorilla Glue, Gilz Nilz, Jilly Bean, Cookies, and more.
Now that you know all there is to know about Hybrid strains and Indica vs Sativa, you can walk into our Trinidad, Colorado dispensary or Pueblo dispensary with the confidence to make the best choice for your needs. There is a strain for everyone and for seemingly every ailment out there. It’s always going to come back to conscious consumption and listening to your body. The best Sativa strains, the best Indica strains, and the best Hybrid strains are going to be different for everyone, but once you discover what works best for you, then you’d cracked the code to consume consciously.