Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid: What Does It All Mean?
By now, a number of us have come across hemp products that come in a specific variety of strains. Names like “Durban Poison”, “Girl Scout Cookies”, and “Mango Tango” all sound enticing, but without good background knowledge on different strains and what they mean for the effects that we’ll feel, they aren’t going to get us very far on our hemp journey.
To appreciate and understand what different strains can offer us, we need to know what a strain actually is, in the first place. Specifically, we gotta get a better understanding of what Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strains represent. Why? Well, in order to make the best choices for our daily hemp-related needs, of course.
What Defines an Actual Strain?
A strain is another term for the breed, or cultivar, of the hemp plant. Cannabis has grown around the world for thousands of years, and the specific conditions of any given plant grown in the world will largely determine its chemical composition of cannabinoids and terpenes. A plant that grows in a Mediterranean region will be different from a plant that grows in the Middle East, in terms of its chemical compounds, because it’s exposed to a completely unique set of elements.
The chemical composition of a particular cannabis cultivar, therefore, determines its strain. One way in which strains vary from one another is their configuration of cannabinoids. We know, for example, that some strains yield higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD) than others, and that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels can vary greatly as well. But, equally important is the configuration of terpenes.
Terpenes are chemical compounds that exist in all plant life, acting as a plant’s natural defense system while informing the flavor and aroma of the plant. Hemp naturally possesses hundreds of terpenes within its flowers, and these terpenes sit alongside cannabinoids. Each terpene in hemp has a distinctive flavor, aroma and variety of effects that determine how we feel. So, each strain’s terpene profile is going to have a lot to do with the effects of the strain, whether those be more soothing, more uplifting, more suitable for addressing physical discomfort, etc. This is also why each strain has a unique flavor profile and scent.
Back in the day, different strains were the result of mother nature alone, depending on the region in which the plant is cultivated. But, over the last several years, breeders have deliberately crossbred different strains to create new ones, using technology to craft strains that are designed to yield very desirable qualities, not to mention flavor. Today’s breeders can develop strains specifically geared toward those dealing with fatigue, stress, muscle tension, etc., maintaining consistent breeding standards so that each yield behaves identically to the last.
What are the Three Strain Categories?
Presently, there are countless strains on the market, with breeders having more means than ever to consistently introduce new and exciting cultivars to the public. But, all strains exist in one of three categories: Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid. So, what do these terms actually mean? Understanding them will help you make smarter choices when selecting a particular strain based on your goals and needs.
Indica strains are shorter, bushier plants that have higher levels of certain chemical compounds that determine their effects. Mainly, Indica strains are known for having higher levels of myrcene, a terpene that is known for its soothing, mellowing effects. That being said, Indica strains are mostly known for being mellowing, which is why most people prefer to enjoy them during the evening, or at bedtime. They typically have a stronger body high effect than Sativa strains, causing a feeling of heaviness throughout the muscles that can make a person want to just lay down and relax. This same body high can be great for tense muscles.
Sativa strains are basically the opposite of indica strains. These plants have a taller and narrower shape, and usually contain higher amounts of uplifting terpenes like limonene, a terpene also found in citrus fruits. Sativa strains are great for daytime, since their effects are very uplifting, and can even give you a boost of creativity, focus or motivation that can help you during the most productive parts of your day. Sativa strains are associated with euphoria-like effects as well, which can be great for days when your mood isn’t great. With sativa strains, it’s more about the cerebral experience, as the body effects tend to be more subdued. You may notice a warm and tingly sensation in the body, however, that can definitely make you feel more physically at ease.
Super Lemon Haze
A hybrid strain is a result of having both Sativa and Indica in one’s lineage. It can result from crossing a pure Sativa with a pure Indica, or, crossing together two other hybrids.
A hybrid is going to provide something of a balance between the effects associated with Indica and Sativa strains. The ratio of Indica to Sativa will impact what can be expected since you can get anywhere from a 50/50 to a 90/10 balance.
Girl Scout Cookie
Choosing the Right Strain for Your Specific Needs
Most people out there strongly prefer one category of strains over the other two, based on what it is that they’re looking for when consuming/using a hemp product. For instances,
Some people want something that they can enjoy during the afternoon when they want to remain focused and uplifted, which is why they go with Sativas.
Others want something that they can enjoy after a long and stressful day, that will help them unwind, which is where Indicas come in handy.
Then, there are those who want the best of both worlds, hence their love for hybrids.
So, in order to figure out which type of strain is ideal for you, ask yourself what kind of experience you want to achieve. Then, view the individual strains that’re available in that said category, and find which one can supply the effects closest to what you’re seeking out.