Cannabis Strains and Effect Profiles: Indica, Sativa and Hybrid
Choosing a cannabis strain can feel intimidating, especially with so many options available on shelves today. However, knowing what effect you’re looking for can help.
Most people are aware of the two classic categories of cannabis flower: indica and sativa. But actually, most cannabis available on the market today is a hybrid of the two types. Modern strains are carefully bred to achieve a delicate balance of effect, flavor and aroma. Some flower elicits the relaxing, sedative body-high generally associated with an indica, while other varieties offer the cerebral, uplifting effects of a classic sativa—but generally, the genealogy of the strain technically makes it a hybrid in both cases. These days, you can even find CBD flower, designed to offer the relaxing effects of CBD in a smokeable package with little to no psychoactivity. In today’s world, high-quality cannabis is painstakingly bred to offer a curated selection of effects, giving cannabis users more control over their experience than ever before.
What Are Cannabis Strains?
The cannabis plant is part of the Cannabaceae genus. Cannabis farmers have refined their crop over generations, weeding out unfavorable variations and encouraging favorable ones. Breeds or cultivars of cannabis are known as strains. A given strain has an associated assortment of cannabinoids, terpenes and other phytochemicals which make up its overall effects, though these things can vary depending on the growing environment and how the flower is processed. Based on that chemical profile, the strain will have a typical effect: some are more uplifting, some more relaxing, etc.
To help you understand what type of strain is best for you, we’re breaking down the differences between and potential benefits of indica, sativa, hybrid and CBD strains.
Beyond Indica & Sativa
Indica varieties are known to offer a relaxing mental effect along with a “body high,” meaning they can produce a strong physical sensation that you feel throughout the whole body. Sativa strains typically give you a “head high,” the effects of which are primarily cerebral and impact your mood and emotions. After smoking sativa, you may feel more energized, focused and even euphoric.
Traditionally, indica plants have been associated with hot and dry climates, and it’s said that sativas tend to grow in warm, humid areas. However, modern ethnobotanists have introduced more nuance into that narrative and disputed the oversimplified indica/sativa distinction. These days, when we refer to “indicas” and “sativas,” we’re talking about the effect the plant has on you. The vast majority of cannabis on the market today, going by genealogy, is a hybrid, with both sativa and indica in its family tree. So what do we mean when we talk about indica and sativa? The terms are useful for understanding the different effects that cannabis plants can be bred to induce.
How to Pick Your Perfect Strain
Indica strains are those that offer a deep sense of relaxation. They may also make you feel drowsy and withdrawn, so this may not be your best bet for a night out. With indica strains, you can sometimes experience “couch lock,” a feeling of physical sedation where your body can feel too heavy to move.
These strains are great for evening and nighttime use as they can help with sleep and many physical ailments. Indica strains can potentially help reduce nausea, increase your appetite, and relieve pain and muscle tension. They can be great for unwinding and relaxing after a long day.
Indica strains generally have high levels of THC and little to no CBD. Some well-known indica strains include:
- OG Kush
- Granddaddy Purple
- Wedding Cake
- Purple Punch
Because sativa strains can give you quite a buzz, they’re best for daytime use or social occasions. Thanks to their energizing and uplifting effects, many people find sativa strains helpful when working on creative projects as well. However, sativas may also make some people feel anxious and paranoid if used in excess.
Sativa plants are relatively high in THC and low in CBD levels. Some well-known sativa strains include:
- Jack Herer
- Super Silver Haze
- Sour Diesel
- Blue Dream
Most Cannabis Strains Today Are Hybrids
Hybrids are grown by interbreeding indica and sativa plants. The vast majority of cannabis available today comes from a hybrid strain. These days, when we use “indica” or “sativa” to describe a cannabis plant, we are talking more about its effect than its genealogy. The effects of a hybrid strain depend on its parent strains since many properties carry over. Hybrids are often bred for specific, balanced combinations of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes, which produce unique flavors and effects.
Hybrid cannabis strains can offer effects that are more indica-like (relaxation, drowsiness, body high) or sativa-like (euphoria, energy). Some of the most well-known cannabis strains are hybrids bred from fan favorites. Here are some well-known hybrid strains:
- Sundae Driver
Not all cannabis strains will get you high. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the main nonintoxicating cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. While it has no mind-altering effects, it still has many benefits, such as relieving pain and inflammation and easing stress and anxiety. Its effects are primarily physical but not sedative. This makes CBD strains a great option for those looking to benefit from cannabis without getting high. You can smoke or vaporize cannabis grown from a CBD strain and go about your day as normal.
CBD strains are bred for high CBD. Their THC levels—and, therefore, their psychoactive effects—can vary from relatively high to almost zero. Different ratios of THC:CBD can have distinct mental and physical effects, and CBD can even counteract some of the intoxicating effects of THC because of how it interacts with our endocannabinoid system. Generally speaking, the higher CBD percentage a strain has, the less psychoactive it is. Some popular CBD strains include:
- Penny Wise
- Ringo’s Gift
How Do They Compare?
Indica vs. sativa vs. hybrid and CBD strains—how do they compare with each other?
Indica strains are relaxing, sedative and have strong physical effects. They’re great for relieving pain, promoting sleep and helping you relax. Sativa strains, on the other hand, have mostly mind-altering effects. You’ll feel energized, euphoric and uplifted. Many people prefer using sativas during the day and indicas at night to help wind down.
Since people have been cross-breeding cannabis strains for decades, it’s quite rare to come across a true indica or sativa, and most strains out there are hybrids. These days, farmers are so effective at breeding and pheno-hunting, or isolating specific characteristics of the cannabis flower to reproduce, they can offer highly specialized strains tailored to the specific needs of various consumers. You can look at it as a spectrum, with most strains falling somewhere between an indica or sativa. If you’re unsure about the effects of a hybrid strain, you can read about the parent strains or look to the cannabinoid and terpene profiles to get a better overview of its potential properties.
CBD strains are specifically bred to be high in CBD, offering therapeutic and mental benefits with or without the psychoactive effects of THC.
Cannabis at Solful
At Solful, what we offer is a little different. We don’t just pick our cannabis based on THC percentages and splashy strain names. Instead, we work closely with local farmers to curate a balanced lineup of exceptional flower, from dialed-in versions of classic strains to innovative, exceptional examples of lesser-known genetics. To learn more about how we choose the cannabis we offer, check out the Solful Sourcing Difference.
Find the Strain for You
A lot of other factors play a role in the effects of a strain, such as your own body chemistry, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes. If you need help finding the right type of strain, feel free to give us a call or see us in person for a consultation.
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