17th Oct 2022

What Exactly is a Hybrid Strain?

In this day and age, the lines between the classic indica, sativa, and hybrid strain are often blurred. If you have a conversation with just about anyone with extensive experience in cannabis, hemp, or horticulture in general, you’ve likely heard something along the lines of: ‘every single strain is basically a hybrid.’ And they’re probably right. Just think about it.

On both sides of the spectrum, cultivators are constantly crossbreeding strains. Whether they’re trying to isolate and maximize a particular terpene profile or to highlight certain cannabinoids over others; with enough crossbreeding, is there really even pure strains anymore?

So let’s discuss this. What exactly is a hybrid strain? Upon consuming said hybrid strain, how does the experience stack up against the more-purebred strains commonly known as indica or sativa strains?

What Are the Three Main Strain Categories?

Most scientists agree that there are two main strain types of cannabis and hemp: Indica and Sativa. Both of which are used for various recreational and medicinal purposes ranging from cerebral energy to relief against a myriad of discomforts from outside and within. To summarize:

  • Indica strains are known for their physically relaxing effects. They are known to induce a full-body high and have found great success in delivering feelings of calm, relief, and to a lesser degree, focus.
  • Sativa strains are known for their energizing and invigorating effects. They’re known to produce more of a cerebral head high that may help in motivation, social settings, and overall energy.

These two main strain types laid out, what is a hybrid strain? A hybrid strain is a combination of both indica and sativa-variety strains. It’s often looked at as the best of both worlds as a hybrid can lean to be dominant in either category or stay balanced right down the middle. And depending on which two strains are crossed together often yields very different effects and experiences.

Deep-Diving into Sativa Strains

Now let’s get into a more in-depth explanation of each strain – SATIVAS!

Cannabis sativa is a variety of cannabis plants that typically grow in dry, hot climates. These plants have tall and thin leaves. They typically have a higher concentration of both THC and CBD. This higher THC content causes more of a “head high” with more energizing and anxiety-reducing effects. You’re likely to feel more productive and creative when you use sativa strains. You may also have better focus and an improved mood.

Deep-Seeded Relaxation with Indica Strains

Cannabis indica is a variety of the cannabis plant that are often short and stocky, with thicker leaves that grow out widely. Indica plants usually grow faster and produce more of the buds than sativa strains would. They usually have a higher concentration of CBD which produces more of the deep and relaxing effects. It’s known to induce more of a full-body high, and may help you achieve a longer and more-restful sleep thanks to its calming properties.

Best of Both Worlds with a Hybrid

A hybrid strain is typically grown from a combination of both the indica and sativa strains. Cultivators experiment with different combinations of the parent plants to grow a hybrid with specific effects in mind. And depending on the plant genetics and the overall balance between them, hybrids break down further into sub-categories: Indica-dominant, Sativa-dominant, and balanced.

The appearance of the leaves varies depending on the parent strains. As expected, so do the CBD and THC concentrations.

What Does the Science Say About the Different Strains?

Recently, Dr. Ethan Russo, MD, a board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher was interviewed about cannabis strains for this article. In the interview, when asked about the psychoactive effects of both Cannabis Indica and Sativa being distinctly different he said the following:

“There are biochemically distinct strains of cannabis, but the Sativa/Indica distinction as commonly applied in the lay literature is total nonsense and an exercise in futility. One cannot in any way currently guess the biochemical content of a given Cannabis plant based on its height, branching, or leaf morphology. The degree of interbreeding/hybridization is such that only a biochemical assay tells a potential consumer or scientist what is really in the plant. It is essential that future commerce allows complete and accurate cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles to be available.”

To put that into simpler terms, he’s stating that although we try putting cannabis into neat little boxes like “indica” or “sativa” it’s much more complicated. Many different components of a strain influence the effects it has on your body and the high it products. The two most dominant cannabinoids THC and CBD certainly play a part, but other things like terpenoid content also plays a huge part.

Essentially, you cannot ONLY look at the cannabinoid profile to determine whether a strain leans one way or another. There is a lot going on inside the plant that influences the final experience you feel. It’s far more accurate to look at a breakdown of both the cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles in the plant to discover what effects the strain holds.

Wait…So Are Strains Still a Thing?

You’re probably a bit confused at the moment. We just went into detail about the different strains of cannabis, then completely destroyed the argument with Dr. Russo. We’re sorry about that, but let us explain.

Currently, many in the cannabis industry are moving away from simply classifying their harvests as a hybrid, indica, or sativa.

That’s not to say that the strain classifications are going away. You’ll likely still hear these terms, but remember that there’s a lot more that goes into classifying a strain and how it’ll ultimately make you feel upon consuming it!

How Do I Know What a Hybrid High Feels Like?

With all Eighty Six, we list the terpene profiles for each strain, so you know what to expect.

For example, our Jen & Berry’s (Gelato) Delta-8 THC Pre-Roll details that upon smoking it, the terpenes present in the blend will encourage a heightened sense of productivity, creativity, and euphoria.

Although it’s nice to know that the underlying strain of both the flower and the Delta-8 distillate infused into are both indica strains, that doesn’t tell you much in the long run.

Since not all Indica-derived products are the same, it’s more helpful to know what you may experience with that specific product. You can learn more about what exactly is in our products by viewing our third-party lab reports attached to each product.

Are the Names Changing?

Since there’s a lot more to consider when it comes to strain classification, the industry is starting to re-define that process. The word “strain” is most often used to refer to viruses and bacteria, so the cannabis industry is moving away from it. Instead, many are using the word “chemovar.” You’ll likely see both terms depending on whether you’re in the cannabis or hemp industries. So for the sake of you continuing to educate yourself on which Eighty Six strain is perfect for you, chances are, you’ll be sticking the classic Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid varieties.

What Products Should I Try for Energizing or Relaxing Effects?

The hybrid strain high varies depending on the factors we mentioned above. Most people want to learn more about the strain to know what to expect after getting high. For example, you likely want a product with energetic effects while hanging out with friends or a more relaxing product before bed.

Although each person can have widely different experience off the same grouping of products, we went ahead and grouped together a few of our Eighty Six goodies into three main categories: energizing, relaxing, and both. Check them out below:

White Fluff THC-O Disposable
[SATIVA]
Rainbow Delta-8 THC Rice Krispie Treat
[HYBRID]
Nilla Mint HHC Disposable
[INDICA]

Energizing Recommendations:

Relaxing Recommendations:

Combination of the Two Recommendations:

Final Thoughts

As we mentioned before, the effects you experience will vary depending on each product’s specific cannabinoid and terpene profile. Knowing if a product is an Indica or Sativa only gives you a small piece to the puzzle. It’s best to look at the product description and its attached certificate of analysis to understand what to expect. Happy blazing!

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