The nomenclature of Indica, Sativa and hybrid strains have persisted for years, but what do they really mean?
Turns out not much. The real difference lies in the cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles, and relative proportions.
Part of the problem lies in the original taxonomic descriptions of the Cannabis genus. It was initially believed that Cannabis was monotypic, meaning the genus contained only one species. However, it’s now known that there are 3 recognized cannabis species: C. sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis.
So what does this mean for those of us consuming the plants? Considering the interbreeding of the species over time, saying that a Sativa has specific properties isn’t relevant. That’s where terpene profiles come into play. For instance, THC on its own has energetic properties, while CBD in isolation can have subduing effects. It ends up being the terpenes that fine tune what the user feels.
What research has shown is that strains with a strong couch-lock effect (see Gorilla Glue), is the result of high concentrations of a terpene called myrcene. Myrcene is found in many different herbs like Bay Leaves and Hops. The presence of limonene can buffer the effects of THC and keep you from going beyond your comfort zone. Some research has suggested that drinking lemon juice after too large of a dose of cannabis can help make you feel better.
It’s easy to use the Indica, Sativa, Hybrid model to categorize our favourite strains, but it’s really causing more confusion than clarity.