Why Most Strains are Actually Hybrids

If you have enjoyed the benefits of cannabis for some time, you’ve probably been asked: “do you prefer indicas or sativas?” quite a few times. 

You may have even noticed some people get annoyed by this simple question. So, what is it about this simple question that might make someone so frustrated? There are two possible reasons why this question might bother someone with a basic understanding of cannabis.

Indica vs. Sativa Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

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The first is that using strain type to determine the potential effects of cannabis is somewhat outdated. Although identifying a strain of cannabis as indica or sativa can give you a general idea of its potential effects, it certainly does not tell you the whole story.  

What Indica and Sativa Originally Meant 

The terms indica and sativa are scientific terms originally used to describe two different strains of cannabis.

Although there’s some debate about the true number of species within the plant genus known as Cannabis, there are three species that are generally recognized. They are Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

Most strains of cannabis available today will either be cannabis sativa, indica, or a hybrid of both.

  • Cannabis indica plants are short in stature and feature broad leaves. Indica plants are known to thrive in cooler climates.
  • Cannabis sativa plants are tall with thinner leaves. Sativas thrive in warmer climates.

Over the years, however,  instead of being used to describe the physical characteristics, the terms indica and sativa have become terms used to describe the effects most people tend to experience. For example, some of the effects that are commonly attributed to each include:

  • Sativas – thought to provide a stimulating and energizing effect that can help reduce anxiety, boost creativity, and increase mental focus
  • Indicas – described as having sedative, full-body effects that can help alleviate pain and insomnia, while promoting relaxation

In Reality, The Effects Will Be Different for All

It is important to note that the effects commonly attributed to certain strains will not be the same for everyone. Since everyone has their own unique endocannabinoid system (ECS), each person’s experience with cannabis will be different.

Click here to learn about how your Endocannabinoid System Could Be The Key to Unlocking Your Body’s Natural Healing Power.

It’s Really about Terpenes and Your Endocannabinoid System

Although strain type can give you a general idea of what most people experience, today we know a lot more goes into determining each person’s experience from a particular strain of cannabis. We know that the terpene profile and the way those terpenes interact with your ECS can be just as important. 

So, that’s the first reason someone who is knowledgeable about cannabis might get annoyed when asked if they prefer indicas or sativas, when it comes to determining potential effects.. 

The second reason is that very few of today’s popular strains are actually pure indica or sativa strains. 

Pure Indica or Sativa Strains Are Rare

A pure indica or sativa strain that has not been mixed with another type of strain is rare. These types of pure indica or sativas are known as landrace strains. 

What Is a Landrace Strain?

Landrace strains of cannabis are strains that have thrived in a certain region for centuries. These strains have adapted to the climate and growing conditions to the part of the word they’re indigenous to. As a result, they’ve developed unique genetics, flavors, aromas, appearances, and effects.

A few examples of these old-school cannabis strains include Acapulco Gold, Maui Wowie, Afghani, and Durban Poison. Click here to learn more about Landrace Strains of Cannabis.

The truth of the matter is that besides these landrace strains that are few and far between, most of today’s popular strains are hybrids. 

What are Hybrids? 

Hybrids are strains of cannabis that have both indica and sativa genetics. Although hybrids can take after either parent, the goal is usually to create a strain that includes the desirable characteristics from each parent – and eliminates any undesirable effects.

Hybrid strains of cannabis are very common. Even many today’s popular indica and sativa strains have hybridization somewhere in their ancestry.

In some cases, a hybrid strain may feature the characteristics of one species (indica or sativa). These types of hybrid strains are referred to as indica-dominant or sativa-dominant. For example, Northern Lights is a 90% indica-dominant strain.

Other examples of popular hybrids include:

  • OG Kush – a hybrid that’s the result of crossing Chemdawg, Lemon Thai, and Hindu Kush
  • Blue Dream – a sativa dominant hybrid that’s the result of crossing Blueberry and Haze strains

Click here to learn more about Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid Strains of Cannabis.

We mentioned earlier that using the indica vs. sativa classification as a guide to determine the potential effects of your cannabis does not tell you the whole story. Today informed consumers are looking deeper and also considering the terpene profile. 

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds naturally produced in plants and herbs like jasmine, rosemary, lavender, and of course – cannabis. In nature, terpenes help to protect plants from animal grazing and infectious germs. They also help to attract pollinators.

Terpenes are bioactive and depending on their concentration and how a person uses them, can offer potential health benefits.

What Kind of Health Benefits Can Terpenes Offer?

Known for its minty, menthol-like smell, the terpene isopulegol is an example of a terpenes that can offer potential health benefits. Isopulegol can be found in the essential oils of lemongrass, lemon balm, geranium, and eucalyptus. Strains of cannabis rich in isopulegol have shown potential health benefits that include being:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Gastroprotective
  • Anticonvulsive
  • Antiviral

Cannabis Strains Containing Isopulegol include:

  • Kosher Tangie
  • Headband
  • OG Kush 

Terpenes and the Entourage Effect?

In addition to their potential health benefits, terpenes are believed to be responsible for helping to create a synergetic effect known as The Entourage Effect–which can provide each person with a unique and more complete cannabis experience. 

It’s believed that the terpenes in cannabis work together with cannabinoids – like THC and CBD – to provide enhanced effects that can be different for all. This can help to explain why cannabis strains with similar THC percentages, but different terpene profiles can affect each person differently.

Tips to Help You Maximize the Benefits of Terpenes

If you’re interested in making the most of the terpenes in your cannabis, here are a few tips:

  • Check the label – Some brands provide terpene profile info on the label
  • Shop for flower with a recent package date and avoid older flower
  • Smell your flower – it should have a nice fragrant scent and not smell stale 
  • Avoid high heat – high temperatures can degrade terpenes so use lower temperatures when vaping
  • Take notes to document the effects of different flower, so you can hone in on the terpene profile that works best for you

Although many cannabis companies are now testing their products for terpenes and listing that information on their product labels, some are not. So, how can you identify terpenes if that information is not provided on the product labels?

How to Identify Terpenes

When it comes to cannabis flower, you can get a general idea about the terpenes in your cannabis by using your sense of smell. Every strain of cannabis has a unique scent that is created by that strain’s unique combination of terpenes.

Some dispensaries will let you look at and smell cannabis flower before you purchase it. By doing so, the scent can help you determine the terpenes that might be in that strain, as well as the effects you can expect. Generally, if cannabis has:

  • A fresh, minty, or citrus-like scent, it will likely have a more uplifting effect
  • An earthy or musky scent, it can tend to have more of a calming or sedative effect

Besides that, the scent of cannabis can also be helpful in determining if its effects will agree with you. For example, if the scent of a strain doesn’t smell appealing to you, that could be a sign that it may not work well with your endocannabinoid system. But, if a strain smells good to you, that could be a sign that it may work well for you. 

Click here to learn more about How to Identify Terpenes in Products When No Lab Report Is Provided.

Ready to Fine Tune Your Approach to Cannabis?

When you determine the mix of cannabinoids and terpenes that are right for you – it can unlock a more complete cannabis experience. Bloom Medicinals understands this and it’s the foundation of what sets us apart from most medical cannabis companies.

Through our one-on-one patient consultations, we’ll take the time to get to know you, your qualifying conditions, any medications you might be taking, your activity level, and any specific effects you are looking to experience or avoid.

Once we know that, we can help you dial in the blend of cannabinoids and terpenes that are best for you.

Click here to find a Bloom Medicinals dispensary near you and give us a call to set up your free consultation today.