Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Hybrid cannabis contains a combination of sativa and indica genes, and most cannabis plants are hybrid varieties. The distinction between pure indica strains and pure sativa strains is mostly meaningless, differentiated by terpene profile and growth pattern rather than any significant differences.
Hybrid strains are usually referred to as sativa-dominant, which may contain more herbal and sweet terpenes like farnesene and bergamotene, or indica-dominant, where the sedative terpene myrcene is more dominant. Whether a plant is deemed “indica-dominant” or “sativa-dominant” depends on where the majority of the lineage of the specific strain came from, its morphology, and subjective matters such as the flavor and aroma of the plant.
Examples of popular hybrid strains include:
- White Widow
- Gorilla Glue
- Jack Herer
- OG Kush
- Chiquita Banana
- Purple Kush
- Bruce Banner #3
- Sour Space Candy
- Blue Dream
- Cherry Pie
These are just a sampling of the most common hybrid strains you can try. Hundreds more hybrid marijuana strains exist, each of which may offer different possible health benefits depending on their exact lineage and the rest of their chemical makeup.
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How Is Hybrid Cannabis Made?
Hybrid cannabis is created by crossing one strain with another (known as cultivars). This is achieved by breeding male and female plants of different strains. For example, a cannabis cultivator may cross a pure male indica with a pure female sativa to produce a 50/50 hybrid (like NL5 x Haze). During the breeding process, the male plant pollinates the female plant, producing seeds of both plants and, therefore, both strains.
The offspring of the crossbred male and female plants will display qualities from both, although sometimes you may get phenotypes that resemble one parent more than the other. Hybrids often participate in selective breeding programs to target and produce the strongest and most desirable qualities from parent plants.
Potential Health Benefits and Uses
Hybrid cannabis offers the same potential health benefits and uses as pure, landrace cannabis that has not been crossed with another variety. Here are some ways that hybrid cannabis could help improve your mental and physical health:
Decrease Depression and Anxiety
While not universal, some people may be able to reduce feelings of mild to moderate depression and anxiety with cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) has demonstrated potential in helping to manage generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But some people may experience an uptick in anxiety when using cannabis. Speak with your doctor before beginning a cannabis regimen to treat depression, anxiety, or any other ailment, especially if you are on prescription medication.
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People with less depression and anxiety naturally sleep better. Some hybrid cannabis strains may help you battle insomnia. As with depression and anxiety, the cannabinoid CBD is especially beneficial for people seeking better sleep.
Ease Chronic Pain
Pain relief is one of the most common reasons people seek out medical marijuana. Cannabis has been shown to help ease many kinds of pain, including muscular, joint, and neuropathic (nerve) pain. People with cancer undergoing chemotherapy may experience severe levels of nerve pain, which cannabis may reduce. Neuropathic pain is one of the most challenging to treat, making a plant-based medicine like cannabis all the more vital.
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Inflammation is a leading cause of disease, including debilitating autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s and many types of cancer. Some studies have found that cannabis can shrink tumors and kill cancerous cells.
Many other potential health benefits are associated with hybrid cannabis, from simple mood-lifting to improving overall brain function.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
Cannabis side effects are usually mild and transient. Hybrid cannabis strains carry the same possible risks as pure Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. You may or may not experience some of the following side effects when consuming hybrid cannabis:
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Paranoia or hallucinations
- Headache and/or nausea
These side effects may be more likely if you are new to cannabis or if you have consumed too much cannabis in a short time. You can help yourself recover from the side effects of cannabis simply by relaxing or chewing on black peppercorns. Whatever you do, know that the side effects you’re feeling are temporary, and no fatal overdose of cannabis has ever been documented.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best hybrid strain?
OG Kush, White Widow, Sour Space Candy, and Gorilla Glue are among the most popular hybrid strains. But the best cannabis strain is always the one that works best for you and supports your individual health goals.
Is hybrid an upper or downer?
Hybrid cannabis can have upper or downer effects depending on the other chemical elements. Certain terpenes (like limonene) have energizing properties, while others (like myrcene) are reputed to be relaxing. Some terpenes, like pinene, can have both uplifting and relaxing effects. In addition, sativa-dominant hybrid strains are generally thought of as more energizing. In contrast, indica-dominant hybrid cannabis strains are supposedly more relaxing, but there are no hard and fast rules.