Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid: What’s the Difference?
Back in the days, choosing a strain of marijuana was as easy as going to your local pot dealer and picking either an indica or a sativa. The general believe then was that if you needed some energy to turn up and be on the high, you would choose sativa. And if what you wanted is not a burst of energy but just to unwind and relax at the end of the day, indica would be your best option. And the hybrid strains; a mix of the two.
This basic facts we had about the indica vs sativa vs hybrid strains of marijuana makes it real simple for us to make a choice. And that’s why it stayed with us for so long.
However, according to the data gathered by cannabis researchers, these categories are not as prescriptive as we have always believed them to be. Which means the type or category of cannabis you choose may not be the greatest indicator of the effects you will likely experience.
It appears these plants have more in common than we believe. But before discussing what differentiates these three strains of cannabis, here are some important things to look for in order to better understand strain effects and differences.
Important Things to Look Out for to Understand Strain Effects
The general belief is that while indica is more calming and relaxing, sativa is more energizing. But is that completely what it is? Individual plants produce different effects, even within the same cannabis type or category. So everything depends on the plant’s composition and the technique employed in growing it.
That is the reason plant types are most times simplified into specific strains or breeds. These strains are distinguished by their individual terpene and cannabinoid content. These are the compounds that determine the overall effects of any strain.
These are naturally occurring compounds in cannabis plant. When marijuana is consumed, the cannabinoids present in them will react with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which hence alters the release of neurotransmitters in the brain and control things like memory, thought, perception, and pleasure.
Presently, there are about 113 cannabinoids isolated from cannabis but some of them are better understood than others. The two most understood cannabinoids are the cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
The compound is the major psychoactive component in the plant. This is basically what gives you the ‘high’ sensation when you ingest or smoke marijuana. THC stimulates brain cells to release dopamine, which creates the feelings of euphoria people experience when they consume cannabis.
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
Even though CBD may be similar to THC in many ways, it reacts differently with brain receptors and does not create the ‘high’ effect. Because of the effects CBD and THC have on the brain, they have gained a lot of popularity around the world for their therapeutic uses. They are being used for pain relief and also to treat many medical conditions, including anxiety disorders.
Even though not as well understood as the cannabinoids, terpenes are also very important. Basically, they are responsible for the unique taste and flavor of every plant. In cannabis strains, there are over 100 different types of terpenes. They work together with the cannabinoids present in each strain to determine how intensely you will be affected by the strain. If you want to know which cannabis is right for you based on the terpene content, all you need to do is to smell the different strains.
The Sativa Strains
The sativa strains are primarily found in dry, hot climates like Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, and western portions of Asia. They are usually tall and thin plants with finger-like leaves. Compared to other types of cannabis, the sativas tend to spend more time before maturity and can grow taller than 12 feet when mature.
They have lower doses of CBD but pretty high doses of THC, which makes it the go-to strain when looking for a ‘high mind’ or an energizing, anxiety-reducing effect. When you consume sativa-dominant strains, don’t expect to feel relaxed and lethargic, it is the strain that can make you feel creative and productive.
Because of the stimulating effect of the sativa strain, it is not recommended to be consumed at night but during the daytime. The popular sativa strains are Panama Red, Acapulco Gold, and Durban Poison.
The Indica Strains
The indica strain is native to countries like India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. The plants are well adapted to the dry, harsh, and turbulent climate of the Hindu Kush mountains. These strains are typically short and stocky and have chunky and bushy leaves, which are often broad and wide. These plants grow faster than the sativas, and also produce more buds.
Unlike the sativa strains, indicas usually have a higher percentage of CBD and less THC. For this reason, it is popular for its intensely relaxing effects. It can also help relieve pain and nausea while also increasing appetite.
Because of the intense relaxing effects it has on consumers, it is better consumed at night. Popular strains include Hindu Kush, Granddaddy Purple, and Afghan Kush.
The Hybrid Strains
As expected, the hybrid strains are produced from a combination of the sativa and indica strain parent plants. These hybrid strains are usually grown to target specific effects.
They are typically grown on greenhouses or farms from a combination of both the indica and sativa strains. The way the hybrid plant appears is often determined by the parent plants combines to make the hybrid. They also do have unique percentages of TCH and CBD depending on farmer’s purpose for growing it.
The effect or experience gotten from the consumption of a specific hybrid strain is determined by the specific impacts farmers want people to get from it. And so, this will determine the time of the day to consume it. Popular hybrid strains include Trainwreck, Pineapple Express, and Blue Dream.
What Are the Potential Side Effects to Expect?
Just as cannabis is great for their amazing benefits, it also comes with some unwanted side effects. Some of such side effects include:
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
Most of the side effects experienced with the consumption of cannabis is usually caused by THC and not CBD. Also, the method of consumption can also increase your chances for side effects.
How to Choose the Right Product for You
Are you looking for the right cannabis product for you? There are a few things you need to consider do you can get the best fit. They are:
- Consider your medical history: this is very important as cannabis can cause some drug interactions and could cause effects that worsen some medical conditions. So make sure you speak with your doctor or a healthcare provider before choosing any cannabis strain.
- Know your reason for taking it: are you trying to treat a condition or you have specific things you want to achieve? Let the dispensary employee know about your goal for choosing cannabis so he can guide you with choosing the right strain.
- Choose the right consumption method: each method of consumption comes with unique benefits and drawbacks. Smoking or vaping cannabis may make the effect come faster, but it could irritate your lungs and airways. Chewables and gummies are often easier to tolerate, but they are usually not as potent.
- Your tolerance is also important: while some strains like Pineapple Express are considered as gentle and suitable for beginners, their effects are typically mild and tolerable. If you are a first-time user, strains with higher levels of cannabinoids may not be best for you.