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What Is Hybrid Cannabis?

  • There are hundreds of strains of the cannabis plant, but each one falls into one of three categories: indica, sativa, and hybrid strains.
  • While indica strains generally promote relaxation and sativa strains are typically more stimulating, hybrids offer a combination of both. They provide a highly customizable experience and a wide variety of use cases.
  • If you’re looking for a useful strain to treat chronic pain, alleviate social anxiety, or provide general daytime support, hybrid cannabis strains could be a good match for you.

Whether you’re considering trying cannabis for anxiety or another chronic condition, you have hundreds of product options to consider.

While patients often hear about the merits of indica and sativa strains, hybrids are sometimes overlooked. This guide is here to change that.

Below, we’re taking a deep dive into hybrid cannabis strains. We’ll compare them to indica and sativa varieties, explore considerations for strain selection, and break down a few common use cases for hybrids.

Strains 101

First, let’s compare the three major categories of cannabis strains: indica, sativa, and hybrid.

Indica

While everyone responds to cannabis strains in their own way, there are certainly trends among users. Typically, patients report that indica strains produce:

  • An overall sense of calm and peace
  • Drowsiness
  • Cerebral, introspective highs (for products with a non-negligible THC concentration)

This might be why indica strains are a go-to for patients looking to treat (or recover from):

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Chronic pain or inflammation

Many indica strains induce the munchies, too—but appetite stimulation isn’t a feature of every indica strain. You can read our guide to maximizing the munchies to learn more.

Although this isn’t true for every patient, the vast majority of people turn to indica strains when they’re looking to relax, reflect, or catch some Zs.

Sativa

While indica strains generally promote a sense of relaxation, sativas often do the opposite for patients—many people leverage sativas for their ability to:

  • Stimulate, boost energy, or promote wakefulness
  • Spark extroversion and conversation
  • Stoke the flames of creativity and complex thought

Because many patients find them to be more stimulating than indica strains, sativa strains aren’t always a good match for people who are prone to overstimulation or anxiety. Just like drinking too much caffeine can make you shaky and uncomfortable, overconsuming a sativa product might make you feel like you’re vibrating.

However, sativas are an excellent match for a variety of conditions like:

  • Depression or executive dysfunction
  • Social anxiety
  • Attention deficit disorders (ADD and ADHD)
  • Chronic pain and inflammation

Since they’re stimulating, many sativa strains also stimulate the appetite. Like indica strains, this isn’t true in every case.

For patients looking to stay alert, create, or focus, sativa strains can be an exceptional match.

Hybrid

With a clear picture of what indica and sativa strains generally do for patients, let’s touch on what happens when cultivators combine their best qualities.

Hybrid strains feature some combination of genetic material from one indica plant and one sativa plant—hence their name. However, these combinations don’t have to be equal. Hybrids can be:

  • Indica-dominant
  • Sativa-dominant
  • Mostly equal in sativa and indica genetics

The effects of a hybrid strain significantly depend on its parent plants. If a grower creates a hybrid from an appetite-stimulating sativa and a pain-relieving indica, for instance, the hybrid strain might offer some semblance of both of these effects.

This means that hybrids offer highly specific effects that can be useful for a wide variety of conditions—everything from chronic pain to disordered eating.

Choosing a Hybrid Strain

If you’re interested in trying a hybrid, what kinds of characteristics should you consider before choosing a product? Let’s cover two key elements of hybrid strain selection.

Active Compounds

While—generally speaking—indica strains tend to have higher CBD content than sativa strains, any strain can feature any cannabinoid profile. So, even high-CBD, low-THC hemp strains can be indicas, sativas, or hybrids.

The active compounds in a cannabis formula should inform your selection much more strongly than its strain category. What compounds should you pay attention to at the dispensary?

  • Cannabinoids – The concentrations of THC and CBD in a product will significantly impact your experience. For instance, a product with a negligible amount of THC (less than 10%) likely won’t get you high. As cultivators and patients learn more about minor cannabinoids (like CBG and CBC), more and more manufacturers are detailing minor cannabinoid content on package labels, too.
  • TerpenesTerpenes are naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant that impact both sensory factors (like smell and taste) and cannabinoid action. Emerging research about the “entourage effect” has shown that terpenes have the power to change how major cannabinoids interact with our bodies. Many product labels will list the most prevalent terpenes in a specific cannabis formula, but your budtender can shed light on products that don’t have terpene labels.
  • Flavonoids – Like terpenes, flavonoids can impact the smell, taste, and color of a cannabis product. Also like terpenes, they potentially play a role in the entourage effect.

Learning which cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids you prefer can help you narrow down your product selection—whether you’re looking for an indica, sativa, or hybrid product.

Genetic Dominance

Of course, if you find that you strongly prefer either indica or sativa strains but want to experiment with a hybrid, consider choosing one that’s predominantly composed of your ideal genetic material.

In other words, if you’re an indica devotee, a hybrid that features 70% indica content and 30% sativa content could offer you a new experience without shattering your comfort zone.

That said, don’t be afraid to experiment. Since each strain offers a unique experience, you might find your perfect match in an unexpected formula.

Common Applications for Hybrid Cannabis Strains

While hybrids can be a good match for patients with a wide variety of conditions, there are a few prevailing hybrid applications to consider.

Daytime Support

Hybrids with 50/50 indica/sativa content or with sativa dominance often promote wakefulness and energy with a reduced risk of:

  • Indica-type drowsiness, or
  • The overstimulation that accompanies some sativas

In other words, hybrids can round out the sharper edges of both indica and sativa strains to offer a more balanced experience.

If you work a creative job, need an energy boost before a workout, or want to increase your social fuel before an event, choosing a hybrid could provide the daytime support you’re looking for.

Social Anxiety Treatment

Speaking of social fuel, hybrids are often an excellent match for people struggling with social anxiety. If you’re tired of being a wallflower at parties or just can’t find the nerve to strike up conversations in the breakroom, a hybrid could help you come out of your shell.

Since social anxiety is a form of anxiety, even-split or indica-dominant hybrids can offer the social stimulation patients need without provoking a sense of overstimulation. Plus, since indica strains promote a sense of peace, indica-leaning hybrids are a great fit for more subdued social engagements like:

  • Movie nights with friends
  • Professional networking events
  • First dates

Chronic Pain

If you’re considering trying cannabis for chronic pain, hybrids may offer the perfect starting point for your treatment journey. Why?

  • Many hybrids target inflammation – While this isn’t true of all hybrid strains, many combat the root cause of chronic pain: inflammation.
  • Hybrids offer pain relief with fewer other effects – If you’re looking for a strain for all-day pain relief that doesn’t induce drowsiness, doesn’t cause the munchies, and doesn’t turn you into a Chatty Kathy, you might just find a match in a hybrid strain.
  • They’re great for newcomers – If you’re a cannabis newbie, hybrids offer an excellent way to get your feet wet. Instead of risking a too-cerebral high with an indica strain or potential overstimulation from a sativa strain, you can experience a taste of both.

TeleLeaf: Expanding Access to Cannabis Care and Knowledge

If you’re a medical marijuana initiate and you’re intimidated by all this talk of strains and active compounds, don’t worry: every patient has been in your shoes before. All you need is a trusted guide on your cannabis journey—and that’s exactly what we do at TeleLeaf.

The TeleLeaf team connects prospective medical cannabis patients with licensed, cannabis-informed clinicians with their fingers on the pulse of all things medical marijuana. While our providers primarily offer recommendations for medical cannabis and help patients get their medical cards, they’re also trusted guides throughout your entire treatment journey. We’re here to demystify every myth and answer every question.

Ready to partner with a cannabis pro that gets you? Start the medical card process with TeleLeaf now.


Sources:

Healthline. Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Strains.
https://www.healthline.com/health/beginners-guide-to-marijuana-strains

Healthline. Cannabis 101: What’s the Deal with Terpenes?.
https://www.healthline.com/health/cannabis-terpenes

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