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With medical marijuana legal in twenty-nine states and over five hundred dispensaries open in the United States, the average cannabis consumer is spoilt for choice, as every day more types of indica, sativa, and hybrid strains crop up all across the board. And of course it won’t do to just smoke (or eat or vape or rub or…) just anything you get your hands on. No, most people have evolved from just buying whatever their dealer can come up with on any given Saturday night. These days, one can afford to be a little bit picky.
Certain strains can give you very energetic highs, and some can have a more sedative effect. Some strains are better for the treatment and/or the management of certain illnesses than others. To understand what cannabis strains can do for you, and to find just the right match, it might be a good idea to look back at history just a little bit.
A Short History of Pot
People have been using pot as a tool to help them escape from reality or face the real world in a calmer and more relaxed manner. This plant has helped so much that a pot day has been appointed. It is what we call now the 420 day. How it came to be is quite intriguing to enthusiasts as it’s one of the biggest celebrated lifestyle holiday. As pot community grew bigger and bigger, cultivating cannabis as a source of food and fabric has become a normal practice, and there have been records of medicinal and psychoactive uses of cannabis from around 440 BCE. Early classifications of cannabis came about in 1753 based on where the plants were grown and what they looked like. Cannabis indica, for example, is found in place with dry, cold climates
like Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan. They’re short, bushy, and grow quite quickly in comparison to Cannabis sativa.
Often, though, it’s never quite as easy to determine the type of high you get from a Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. Cannabis strains have been cultured, crossbred, and combined countless times, so that most strains now are really a mix of different strains. It’s actually very rare to find a pure sativa or pure indica strain on the market.
The terms “indica” and “sativa” are used mostly as a shorthand, as these are terms that people generally understand. However, so much affects cannabis—the weather, fertilization, even the time that the cannabis was harvested—that it’s difficult to definitively say what effects a particular strain will have just by the regular indica and sativa labels. So, you may ask, what should you look for in a strain?
What’s in the Pot? Cannabinoid and Terpene Ratio and Profiles
Cannabinoids are a group of chemical compounds found in marijuana, which are responsible for its different therapeutic and recreational characteristics. They’re the guys activate the cannabinoid receptors that are found in our bodies, which are responsible for physiological processes like the regulation of pain, appetite, and mood.
Now, terpenes are fragrance molecules found in all plants (and some animals), including marijuana. They’ve been studied a bit and it’s been found that they, too, could have an effect on your pot experience. Each terpene profile has a medicinal effect specific to the profile.
For an example of how a cannabinoid affects your body’s response to a certain strain of marijuana, let’s look at one of the most well-known cannabinoids, THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid responsible for that “high” feeling you get with marijuana. It’s known to affect mood, induce euphoria, increase appetite, and make you more sensitive to outside stimuli. High THC strains are good for day smoking, as strains like Ghost Train Haze (a sativa strain) and Chemdawg (a hybrid strain) are said to feed creativity and focus.
Another cannabinoid is Cannabigerol, or CBG. It’s a bit underrated, but more breeders are working to get this cannabinoid in your favorite strains. It has, after all, been found to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. CBG has also been found to have neuroprotective effects, which means it can help with symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis, as well as protect the body from further damage after strokes and other trauma to the nervous system.
Now, terpenes like limonene, for example, which has a citrusy smell, may be used to promote weight loss by controlling your appetite, can be used to treat bronchitis and in the prevention and even cure of several types of cancer. Strains with high limonene content, like Lemon Skunk, have been known to have great mood boosting properties as well.
A few more examples of terpenes are myrcene, which is found in mangoes and herbs like basil, thyme, hops, and lemongrass. Some studies suggest that myrcene has an indica or a “couch lock” effect. It’s sedative, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibiotic.
Linalool, which is found in lavender, is an anticonvulsant, which makes it a great terpene profile to have for people taking cannabis for epilepsy. It’s also been found to lower stress levels, fight depression and anxiety, and has been said to improve the immune system.
Pinene, which is a terpene found in pine, orange peels, rosemary, dill, and parsley is an anti-inflammatory. It promotes airflow to lungs and is great for asthma patients and patients with bronchitis. It also promotes alertness and counteracts the shortterm memory loss associated with high doses of THC.
A lot of dispensaries in the United States now have labels which tell you how much of a certain cannabinoid is in their products. However, very few dispensaries include the terpene profiles in those labels. Luckily it’s usually pretty easy to just go by your nose to tell what kinds of terpene profiles are in any strain.
The internet is a wealth of information for the discerning pot user, so do your research to find out what combination of cannabinoid and terpene profile works for you. Remember that for your consumption, it’s more important to look at these profiles than it probably is to look whether the strain is a sativa, an indica, or even a hybrid strain.
Ask your local dispensary about which of their products work best for what purpose. Remember, also, that your method of consumption and how much you consume will also have an effect on your experience. Now go! Go forth into the wild, wonderful world of weed, and may the fourth be with you.
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