For new patients especially, choosing the right type of medical marijuana for their needs can sometimes feel confusing or overwhelming.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be, and with a little knowledge, you can soon be on the way to feeling relief.
For those unfamiliar with the different types of medical marijuana and the effects they produce, the best place to start is by looking at the two primary strains of the cannabis (marijuana) plant: cannabis sativa and cannabis indica.
How do sativa and indica strains differ?
A lot of it has to do with the physical characteristics of the plants.
Sativa plants, which prefer warmer climates, are slim and tall with narrow leaves, sometimes growing up to 12 feet or higher.
Indica plants do well in colder temperatures and tend to be short and stout with broad leaves.
As for their effects, sativa and indica plants are also very different.
Sativa strains are known for being invigorating and uplifting, which is why they are often recommended to treat depression.
These strains are also associated with alertness, motivation, creativity and increased energy.
In other words, sativa strains offer relief without the sleepy effects of many indica strains—so there’s your answer! Benefits of sativa strains include:
- Feelings of ease and happiness
- Uplifting and cerebral thoughts
- Stimulates and energizes
- Increases focus and creativity
- Helps with depression
(Just be careful not to overdo it, as sativa strains can cause anxiety and paranoia.)
Indica strains are ideal for relaxing and known for their heavy body high.
These are the strains more likely to make you sleepy, so they are often recommended for nighttime use.
Typically, indica strains contain high levels of CBD, a non-psychoactive compound known for its pain-relieving and anti-anxiety effects.
Benefits of indica strains include:
- Relieving body pain
- Relaxing muscles
- Relieving spasms
- Reducing seizures
- Relieving headaches and migraines
- Relieving anxiety and stress
Finally, there are hybrid strains that combine the properties of both sativa and indica strains, which is what you will see most often.
Beyond the strains: cannabinoids and terpenes
The use of broad classifications like sativa, indica, and hybrid is helpful because it simplifies the decision-making process for medical marijuana patients.
However, if we look beyond the names we see that the cannabis plant actually contains hundreds of different chemical compounds that contribute to the unique effects of each strains—the two most common being cannabinoids and terpenes.
Cannabinoids interact with receptors in our brain and are responsible for the majority of the medicinal effects of cannabis as well as the euphoric “high” people experience.
The two you hear about most often are THC and CBD.
- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): THC is perhaps the best-known active ingredient in marijuana and the one primarily responsible for its psychoactive effects, including that “high” feeling we mentioned. THC levels vary greatly among different strains, but sativa or sativa-dominant hybrids tend to have the most THC.
- CBD (cannabidiol): CBD is not a psychoactive compound like THC, but it is an active ingredient that can help reduce pain, inflammation, and anxiety. For many medical marijuana uses, higher relative levels of CBD may be beneficial.
A primary indicator of how a particular marijuana strain may affect you is the absolute and relative levels of THC and CBD, which you can ask your dispensary tech to provide.
Terpenes are behind the intense and varied aromas you get with different marijuana strains and are believed to be responsible for some of the effects associated with different strains.
This is the reason you will often see medical marijuana strains highlighted for their terpene composition.
Still, have questions? Come ask the experts!
At Desert Rose Dispensary we take the time to answer your questions and explain the different aspects of each of strain to help you find the best possible treatment.
Our goal has always been to empower patients with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their health, and we’re passionate about getting it right every time.