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SATIVA, INDICA, OR HYBRID? HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT CANNABIS STRAIN FOR EVERY OCCASION.
Time to read 9 min
Time to read 9 min
Cannabis comes in many, many different flavours. So many that it can be pretty challenging to decide which strain is best for you. The fact that many strains have -shall we say, very creative- names doesn’t help either. Still, in order to choose the best cannabis strain for you to consume, it is essential to understand the differences between the different strains. Choosing the wrong strain can lead to unintended effects and a less-than-pleasant experience.
In this blog post, we will discuss the three main Cannabis subspecies and strains used for consumption: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid, and their respective properties. We will also give you a whole bunch of examples of popular strains and their effects. And lastly, we will discuss how to best go about selecting the right strain for you.
The Cannabis species (part of the cannabaceae family) includes three subspecies: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. These Cannabis subspecies are differentiated by their growth patterns, appearance, and the effects they produce when consumed.
Sativa: Cannabis Sativa plants are tall and thin with narrow leaves and long flowering cycles. Sativa strains are known for their uplifting and energetic effects that are commonly associated with creativity, focus, and increased productivity. Sativa strains are often used during the day and are popular among people who want to stay active and alert.
Indica: Cannabis Indica plants are short and stocky, with broad leaves and short flowering cycles. Indica strains are known for their relaxing and sedative effects that are commonly associated with stress relief, pain management, and relaxation. Indica strains are often used at night and are popular among people who want to unwind and de-stress.
Ruderalis: Cannabis Ruderalis is a subspecies native to Central and Eastern Europe and Asia. Ruderalis plants are small and low in THC (the primary psychoactive component in cannabis). They are known for their fast flowering cycles and the ability to auto-flower (meaning they flower based on their age rather than the light cycle). Ruderalis strains are often used as a genetic building block to create new hybrid strains that combine fast flowering times with high THC levels.
Sativa, Indica, and Hybrids each have their own unique effects on the human brain and body. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Sativa: Sativa strains are known for their uplifting and energizing effects. They are often used to increase creativity, focus, and motivation. Sativas are typically tall and slender plants with narrow leaves and a lighter green colour. They also tend to have a more uplifting and cerebral high, making them a popular choice for daytime use.
Here’s a list of 12 popular Sativa strains and their effects:
Indica: Indica strains, on the other hand, are known for their relaxing and sedative effects. They are often used to relieve pain, anxiety, and insomnia. Indica strains are typically shorter and bushier plants with broad leaves and a darker green colour. They also tend to have a more relaxing and body-focused high, making them a popular choice for evening/nighttime use.
Some of the most popular Indica strains are:
Hybrid: Hybrid strains are a combination of Sativa and Indica strains, sometimes with a bit of Ruderalis mixed in. Over time, hybrid strains have become very popular among cannaseurs. Growers have created a wide variety of hybrid strains that offer different balances of uplifting and relaxing effects. Since each strain contains a unique combination of Sativa and Indica DNA, the effects will vary widely from strain to strain, depending mainly on the specific genetics and the ratio of Sativa to Indica. Hybrids can be either dominant in Sativa or Indica genetics, which significantly affects the resulting high.
There are more hybrid strains around than we can count, but some of the most popular hybrid strains include:
Please note that the effects of each Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid strain will vary based on individual tolerance, the method of consumption, and other factors. When consuming a new strain, always start with a small amount and listen to your body.
As we have discovered, Cannabis strains come in a wide variety of flavours, aromas, and effects. This makes it challenging to choose the right one. So how do we go about finding the right strain for ourselves? Here are some pro tips to help you pick the best strain.
Determine your desired effects
The first step in choosing the right strain is to determine what you want to achieve. Are you looking for a strain that will help you relax, increase creativity, relieve pain, or enhance your focus? Different strains have different effects, so it’s important to choose one that matches your needs.
Depending on the kind of effects you are looking for, you can choose whether you want to try a 100% Sativa, 100% Indica, or go for a hybrid strain that has a bit of both. Remember: Sativa is mainly “uplifting and energetic,” Indica is mainly “relaxing and euphoric,” and a hybrid will be a mixture of these two.
Honing in on the strain:
After you have decided on the kind of “subspecies” you want: Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid, it is time to hone in on a particular strain. This is where the THC and CBD content come into play. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the two main compounds found in cannabis. THC is the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while CBD has more medicinal and bodily effects. Some strains have high THC and low CBD content, while others have high CBD and low THC.
Note: High-THC strains often have a strong psychoactive effect on the brain -called a head high- (they can literally get you stoned out of your mind). Strains with less THC but more CBD often have a more relaxing effect -called a body high-. This is not to say that Indica’s won’t get you high or stoned. They can and they will. It is just more of a “physical high” rather than a “brain high.”
Research the strain:
Once you have a few strains in mind, do some research to learn more about them. Check out reviews and descriptions of the strains you’re interested in to better understand their effects, aroma, and flavour.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from dispensaries (if you buy your weed there) or knowledgeable friends. Tell them exactly what you would like for desired effects and what your personal preferences are. Nobody will hold it against you if you ask. Even I, an experienced user with decades of personal experience, will ask a bud tender about a strain’s specifics when this particular strain is new to me.
When you have made your choice, get a small amount first. No matter the strain, it’s always a good idea to try it out before committing to a larger amount. This will allow you to gauge its effects and determine if it’s the right strain for you. Also, keep in mind that a strain can have a different impact depending on the amount you consume and the “mental state” you are in when consuming it.
Try something new
My last tip is to try a new strain every now and then. I personally will try a new strain every month or so to see how they “feel.” Even though by now I know what kind of strains I like best, I am often pleasantly surprised by a specific strain that turns out to be a lot better than I thought it would be. So don’t be afraid to experiment a little from time to time. Just be safe and responsible when doing so.
Choosing the right strain of cannabis can be challenging, but by determining your desired effects, researching the strains, and asking for recommendations, you can find the perfect strain for you.
Now that you understand the differences between Sativa, Indica, Ruderalis, and Hybrid strains, this process will be much easier. Just remember: it’s always wise to consult with a trustworthy source, such as a dispensary or knowledgeable friend. And, once you have found a strain that you’d like to try, always start with a small amount and listen to your body to ensure that you have a positive experience.
As always, stay safe and stay healthy!