Combining the best of both worlds.
Research into marijuana is still in its relative infancy, which means we continue to learn more about the herb with every passing year. A prime example of marijuana misinformation relates to the distinct groups – indica and sativa – that you may see at your local dispensary. There is also ruderalis, but in general, most weed users steer clear of that particular type of cannabis.
A lot of people used to believe that indica and sativa strains had specific effects. Indicas were associated with sedation and were classified as a late evening or night time strain. Sativas were said to provide you with an energy boost, which made them the best wake-and-bake options.
In reality, there is much about the marijuana plant that we have yet to understand. For instance, the overall cannabinoid and terpene content of a strain is more likely to dictate the effects you’ll feel. There are well over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, plus at least 100 terpenes.
Therefore, it is entirely possible to find a sativa strain that has a sedative effect, and an indica that invigorates you. Breeders are becoming more aware of this, and are creating exciting new strains as a result. These days, you’ll find it hard to find a pure indica or sativa. Indeed, some experts believe neither exists in the modern era.
When strains with different heritage are crossbred, exciting things happen. Hybrids contain a combination of indica and sativa genetics and take on traits from both strain families depending on their lineage. Add in the importance of cannabinoids aside from THC & CBD, not to mention terpenes, and it is easy to see why a sativa-dominant hybrid might surprise you by helping you to chill out.
Indica Strain: What Is It?
Indicas are a firm favorite with breeders because of their dense growing pattern and smaller size, which makes it easier to grow them indoors. Indicas typically grow to around 6 feet in height, and the plant’s shape is very similar to that of a pine tree. While most indica strains were found in high altitude locations such as Nepal, indoor cultivation has exposed them to the world, and they are now being grown in virtually every corner of the world.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck is believed to be the first to classify the Cannabis indica species in 1785. He named it as a type of marijuana that grows in India and the surrounding region. The typical qualities associated with a pure indica include:
- Decreasing nausea
- Helping with muscle relaxation
- Improving mental relaxation
- Boosting appetite
- Boosting dopamine production
In general, medicine produced from indica strains has lower THC but a higher CBD count than sativa-based medicine.
Sativa Strain: What Is It?
Sativas are giants compared to Indicas. They are best cultivated outdoors but can also be grown indoors. They can reach heights of up to 12 feet! Unlike Indicas, the leaves, buds and colas of a Sativa marijuana plant are far spread apart.
Sativa cannabis strains are best suited to individuals seeking a boost in energy or creativity. Many of the Sativa cannabis strains originate in nations near the equator, for example, Colombia, Thailand, Mexico and several countries in Africa, but as cultivation has become more technological based, you will find Sativa’s grown virtually anywhere
Carl Linnaeus is credited with being the first person to classify the Cannabis sativa plant in 1753. For the record, the word sativa means things that are cultivated. The typical qualities of a pure sativa plant include:
- Treating chronic pain
- Boosting creativity and focus
- Increasing serotonin
Sativas need more time to grow and mature, require more light, and on average, have higher THC and lower CBD counts than indicas. Of course, this is only a rule of thumb and is not set in stone.
Hybrid Strain: What Is It?
As you can probably guess, a hybrid is the ‘best of both worlds’ in the sense that it offers both Sativa and Indica. They are a combination of two or more forms of cannabis, and they are designed to allow you to get the benefits of Indica and sativa in a single strain.
For example, if you have chronic pain from arthritis but have to go to work, you could use a hybrid strain to alleviate the pain while still remaining alert. Hybrids are used to treat the same illnesses as Indica or Sativa strains.
What Medical Conditions Do Hybrid Strains Treat?
For all the controversy about marijuana, it is worth remembering that it has been used for medicinal purposes for at least 3,000 years, and possibly for longer. While the number of states where it is possible to buy medical marijuana is growing (33 states plus D.C at the last count), the FDA refuses to legalize it across the board due to a supposed lack of evidence supporting its medical benefits.
While there have been studies on marijuana’s medicinal value for decades, it is only in the last few years that relaxed legislation has allowed for a veritable explosion of research. A study by Atwal et al., published in Neuropharmacology in January 2019, found that THC helped boost the efficacy of traditional neuropathic pain medication. For the record, neuropathic pain is a common type of chronic pain that can severely reduce a person’s quality of life.
The study involved providing mice (suffering from neuropathic pain) with a combination of gabapentin and THC. It turned out that the combination reduced pain more than what was predicted from their individual effects; a suggestion that the two drugs may have combined synergistically.
A pair of studies, both published in 2018, were completed by researchers at the University of Mexico. One was published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, while the other was published in Medicines. Both studies discovered that medical marijuana provided immediate relief from a variety of medical symptoms with minimal side effects.
The list of symptoms that hybrid marijuana strains potentially treat includes, but is not limited to:
- Chronic pain
- Menstrual cramps
Of course, the possible effects of each strain vary according to the individual, thanks to the unique nature of our endocannabinoid system (ECS). In any case, here are five great hybrid cannabis strains worth considering:
The 5 Best Popular Hybrid Strains on the Market
1 – Cannatonic (The Anti-Anxiety Marijuana Strain)
Cannatonic is often regarded as the #1 high-CBD marijuana strain in the world, and it is unquestionably one of the finest hybrids. It is known for being a rarity insofar as it has relatively high levels of THC and CBD. Cuts of Cannatonic can have up to 15% THC and 12% CBD.
It is a cross of G13 Haze and MK Ultra and is a balanced hybrid. This means it is 50% sativa, 50% indica. As such, first-time users may not know what to expect. We can tell you that it tends to provide a mellow high. While it doesn’t last as long as other well-known strains, it makes you feel happy and relaxed, as if the entire weight of the world has been taken off your shoulders.
Typically, Cannatonic results in users feeling optimistic and happy. There is no boost of energy, but you don’t need to concern yourself with couch lock either. It is a big name in the medical marijuana field and is valued for its analgesic effects. As such, it is recommended for the treatment of chronic pain such as muscle spasms, migraines, and cerebral palsy. Side effects are minimal but could include mild headaches, dry eyes, and dry mouth.
If you fancy growing it yourself, it is best if you grow it indoors. Cannatonic is also not a great option for first-time growers because it requires skill and experience. It is susceptible to mold and mildew, so keep humidity levels on the low side of average. In general, we recommend growing it indoors as it allows you to maintain better control of the climate conditions.
2 – Three Blue Kings (The New Kid on the Block)
This is an indica-dominant hybrid that is taking the market by storm. It was created by Humboldt Seed Organization and is a feminized strain designed to be easy to grow. Three Blue Kings is a cross of Three Kings and Blue Dream; so, it isn’t hard to figure out where it gets its name!
As you probably know, Blue Dream is one of the biggest selling strains ever, so it is interesting to see such a hyped hybrid come from its lineage. Three Blue Kings is an extremely potent strain with a THC level of up to 24%! It hits you with a potent body high that helps ease stress and keeps your muscles nice and relaxed.
Ultimately, this strain features heavy buds, and a delightful fruity smell paves the way for a delicious tasting strain. Users report a fruity and sweet aroma with zesty overtones while the flavor is a combination of petrol, lemon, pine, and fuel.
Although you can grow this strain indoors, Three Blue Kings fulfills its potential when grown outdoors. Indoors, you could get around 20 ounces per square meter planted. However, it is outdoor growers that are astounded by the yield. We have heard reports of this plant growing to 13 feet tall with a yield of over 60 ounces per plant!
3 – Larry Bird Kush (The Perfect Hybrid Strain)
This marijuana strain has been heralded as the ‘perfect’ hybrid. That’s quite a claim! It is a cross of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies and Sunset Sherbet. As basketball fans can guess, it is named after the legendary Boston Celtics player. It is a balanced hybrid with a THC content that can reach 26%, against around 1% CBD.
The aroma of sweet grapes is tempting, to say the least, while the smoke is smooth and provides users with a flowery and minty taste. Once you use Larry Bird Kush, you’ll understand the hype. It provides a pleasant cerebral high, followed by a tingling feeling that is almost indescribable. All it takes is a few hits of Larry Bird Kush to put a huge smile on your face.
Growers of this strain are in for a visual treat. Its sugar leaves can develop gorgeous shades of deep purple, and the dense, tightly-packed buds are covered in sticky trichomes, a clear sign of its potency. When grown indoors, the flowering time is 8-10 weeks with a yield of up to 25 ounces per square meter. Outdoors, it can grow to over 6 feet tall, is ready for harvest by early October, and offers around 28 ounces per plant.
4 – White Widow (The Amsterdam Staple Marijuana Strain)
It is an ‘old’ hybrid by marijuana standards, but few modern-era strains can match White Widow. It was one of the first imports from Europe to make it big in the United States when it first traveled overseas from the Netherlands in the 1990s. It is a cross of South American sativa and a South Indian indica, with a THC content ranging from 18% to 25%.
White Widow is known for producing a smooth and reliable high. It manages to be uplifting and relaxing at the same time; perfect if you are a creative individual seeking inspiration. It is an excellent ‘social’ strain, but when it takes hold, it provides a deep body relaxation that could cause you to flop on a couch and not get up!
This strain looks like it has been dipped in sugar, such is the number of trichomes it possesses. It has a pungent aroma with spicy and earthy hints. As well as giving a strong earthy taste, White Widow provides you with hints of wood and pine, but the slight taste of sugar that lingers is what really gets you.
It is used to treat an array of medical conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. While you can grow White Widow indoors or outside, it is best to cultivate it inside. When grown outdoors, it is ready for harvest near the end of October and offers a yield of up to 21 ounces per plant. Indoors, its flowering time is 8-9 weeks, with around 18 ounces of bud per square meter.
5 – AK-47 (The Marijuana Strain That’s a Misnomer)
Not every marijuana strain name makes sense, and that is certainly the case with AK-47. It is named after an instrument of death capable of producing rapid amounts of bullets. However, the AK-47 marijuana strain is a mild and gentle one. It is a cross of an Afghani indica and a South American sativa.
AK-47 was probably first grown in the Netherlands in the 1990s and has won over a dozen awards. Its THC content ranges from a reasonable 13% to a strong 20%. Users report feeling a sensation of clear-headed relaxation followed by a boost in their mood. It is an uplifting strain, ideal for dealing with depression or stress.
The high often lasts longer than average, and you may find yourself giggling uncontrollably. It has an initial sour aroma coupled with a smell of earth. If you dig a little deeper, you may also get hints of sugar. AK-47 has a floral taste with earthiness and spiciness thrown in. It is often used to treat anxiety, chronic pain, and lack of appetite.
You can grow AK-47 outdoors, but please note it is sensitive to mold and rotting. It also provides a very strong smell that your neighbors will pick up. When grown outside, this strain is ready for harvest in October and offers a yield of 14+ ounces per plant. When grown indoors, you can control humidity and reduce the likelihood of disease creeping in. AK-47’s flowering time is 7-9 weeks indoors, and it produces around 14 ounces per square meter.
Final Thoughts on the Best Most Popular Hybrid Strains
As cannabis growers become more creative, we are witnessing the creation of some weird, wonderful and seriously strong hybrid cannabis strains. You enjoy the best of Indica and Sativa blends which means you can relax without being sleepy and benefit from pain relief without side effects.
The strains outlined in this guide are a mixture of old and new versions. With the legalization of weed in so many states, plus Canada, breeders are creating hundreds of hybrids each year. Try a few and tell us which one is your favorite!