Cannabis is broken into 2 species: Cannabis indica & Cannabis sativa. Back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, both evolved in isolated locations, developing distinct characteristics in how they look and how they make you feel when consumed.
Sativas grow better in warm climates, have narrow leaves, are tall in stature and have a long flowering cycle. They are known for their “head high”. They provide an invigorating, uplifting effect that can increase creativity & focus. They are said to pair well with physical activity and social settings.
Indicas grow in colder climates, have broad leaves, are short in stature and have a short flowering cycle. They are more physically sedating and are typically associated with full-body effects. They pair well with a relaxing afternoon or as a nightcap before bed.
When you walk into a dispensary, one of the first questions asked is if you prefer indicas or sativas. However, today, scientists and cannabis experts agree that this way of categorizing the euphoric effect of marijuana, based on genetics, is simply untrue. In other words, the category, or type, of cannabis may not be the greatest indicator of the effects you’ll experience. While we do know that indica and sativa strains look and grow differently, there is little evidence to suggest that each exhibits a consistent pattern of chemical profiles that makes one sedating and the other uplifting. Instead, when choosing what strain is right for you, all characteristics of the chemical profile should be taken into consideration, in addition to your unique biology, tolerance, dose and method of consumption. We should especially be looking at which cannabinoids and terpenes are present.
Cannabis contains dozes of compounds called cannabinoids. The main cannabinoids are THC and CBD. However, there is also CBN, THCA, CBG, and CBDA. We do not know how all of the particular cannabinoids make you feel quite yet, especially when working in conjunction with each other, but we do know they influence the effect of each strain. The cannabinoid profile should be on a sticker, on any medical marijuana product purchased from a dispensary. These stickers give you accurate information on that particular batch, as content & ratios can change from one harvest to the next.
It is also important to know the ratio, or percentage, of each cannabinoid present in a particular strain. If it is a THC-dominant strain, it will give you more of a euphoric effect that is good for pain, depression, insomnia and many more ailments. If it is a CBD-dominant strain, you will not feel a euphoric effect, but you will still get many of cannabis’ health benefits. Balanced THC/CBD strains offer mild euphoria and are good for patients seeking a slow start to marijuana’s signature high.
Another important factor to consider when choosing the strain that is right for you, is terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic oils that give marijuana its distinct smell. Some of the most common are Pinene, Terinolene, Limonene, Humulene and Euclyptol. Terpenes are also present in many plants and fruits. They are found in citrus fruit, lavender, pepper, pine trees, berries, and much more. They are used in aromatherapy to relax or invigorate your mind and body. When cannabis is consumed, it is a similar reaction, depending which terpenes are present in the strain. Currently, terpenes are not listed on batch stickers. For now, it is best to depend on your budtenders, or do a quick google search for the strain you are considering.
As you explore the world of cannabis, know that indica or sativa classifications are simply a tool to help you choose the strain of marijuana that has the effects you’re looking for. While it is not accurate, genetically speaking, it is still a useful tool. Otherwise, read batch stickers to know what cannabinoids are present, and at what percentages. Also, keep a journal and get to know the terpenes present in the stains you try. Over time, you will likely see a pattern that will help guide you to more favorite strains.
Not sure which strains to try, or overwhelmed when purchasing cannabis? I’m here to help!
Please note that I am not a medical doctor, and do not diagnose or treat any disease.