If you’re a cannabis smoker, you probably know that there are three different types of cannabis, namely, indica, sativa and hybrid. Each of them has specific properties related to the cerebral effects, aromas, flavors, appearance, characteristics of the buds, yields and other relevant aspects. In this guide, we teach you everything you have to know about these types of cannabis strains and how to differentiate them.
What is sativa?
Cannabis sativa has its origin in Eastern Asia, but is now grown worldwide. It can be used as a hallucinogenic, analgesic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory agent thanks to its cannabinoid. The effects of cannabis sativa reduce anxiety and produce a mind high, or an energizing and creative feel.
What is indica?
It is said that Cannabis indica has its origins in Afghanistan, more specifically in the Hindu Kush mountains. It normally grows in cold and adverse climatic conditions. Indica strains are known for their “body-high” effects, such as increasing deep relaxation and reducing insomnia.
The typical example of Cannabis indica is a more compact bush with a thicker stem than its sativa relatives, usually reaching a height of fewer than two metres with the following characteristics:
- Foliage is generally dark green, although some specimens appear to have blue or purple leaves. These leaves are composed of shorter and wider leaf blades, designed to minimize water loss during transpiration.
- Indica strains tend to produce more side branches and denser growth than the sativa strain, resulting in bushier and wider plants that look like small trees.
Indica strains are an excellent option for terraces, balconies or for growers who seek discretion outdoors. They are harvested in September, which makes them highly valued in cold areas and where autumn rains are frequent.
Does indica or sativa get you higher?
Indica strains tend to have less THC than sativa, but contain more CBD. Indica strains provide a full-body effect whereas sativa strains provide a more intense cerebral effect or mind high. The concentration of cannabinoids and terpene is ultimately the decisive factor which determines how high you get with a specific marijuana strain.
What are hybrid cannabis strains?
Hybrid cannabis plants produce flowers with both indica and sativa strains’ genetic makeup that are either sativa or indica dominant. Hybrid cannabis strains are man-made plants that offer a psychoactive balance with specific kinds of characteristics found in cannabis ruderalis, sativa, and indica strains.
Different flavors are achieved by combining specific strains, whether it be for effect, taste, or curiosity. Thanks to genetic combination, weed enthusiasts can enjoy unique cannabinoid profiles that Mother Nature could not have devised herself.
In sativa-dominant plants, the energetic and social effects of cannabis are more intense, as is the case with Kootnays Finest Jellysickle. However, the high of certain varieties, such as Jack Herer, have very balanced psychoactive effects, having a fifty-fifty in the indica to sativa ratio.
On the side of indica-dominant plants, just the opposite occurs. In strong Indica strains, although hybrids, such as Blueberry, with a concentration of 80% of this type, it is common to feel very relaxing effects shaken by small energizing notes.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the organic hydrocarbons found in cannabis that give the plant and its flowers distinct flavors and aromatic diversity. It is what gives flowers and plants their unique aroma. In fact, this is the defense mechanism of cannabis to avoid animals from eating it.
Like essential oils, terpenes are produced in the sticky resin glands of cannabis, where cannabinoids like THC and CBD are also secreted. While regular cannabis consumers notice terpenes primarily due to their aromatic and pungent distinctions, these compounds provide more benefits than just an intense smell.
Recognized by the FDA as safe to use, terpenes can be found in many fruits, herbs, and plants. In general, these compounds are frequently used in the production of flavors and fragrances for a wide range of organic products. For example, the distinctive fragrance of marijuana, mint, or lavender is primarily due to the unique structure of the terpenes in these plants.
Each cannabis strain comes with a distinctive terpene profile, which is different in concentration and formation. Here are 4 terpenes that have the highest concentrations of cannabinoids:
Marijuana strains that are high in limonene often have a citrus aroma, like lime or orange. Highly consumed by inhalation, this terpene is widely used to aid weight loss, treat and prevent cancer, and relieve bronchitis. Limonene is found in the peels of mint, juniper, rosemary, and citrus.
Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with an endocannabinoid system to produce a woody or spicy aroma. It has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory response, helping to reduce depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Caryophyllene is found in black pepper, cinnamon, or Thai basil.
Found in nearly 200 species, including mushrooms, cinnamon, mint, flowers, and especially lavender, linalool features a floral scent that promotes relaxation. It is widely used as a sleep aid and a precursor in the production of vitamin E. In addition, linalool may significantly reduce lung inflammation due to Alzheimer's disease and smoking.
With an earthy, clove and musky aroma, myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis, comprising up to half of the terpene's volume. Many studies have found that this compound has anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties, which can be used as muscle relaxants and sedatives. Myrcene is also found in other plants such as eucalyptus, hops, thyme, lemongrass, and mango.
What should you look for to understand strain effects?
CBD and THC are the best known cannabinoids from cannabis that you must understand to know strain effects. These substances have the ability to bind to the receptors of the same name in the human body to generate a series of reactions on a physical and mental level. To be more exact, CBD is known for its medicinal effects, while THC is known for its psychoactive effects.
Potential side effects and risks
Another big difference between CBD and THC is their side effects. In most cases, CBD is well tolerated and is not associated with signs of toxicity. The risks related to smoking cannabis are:
- Memory loss
- Lung infections
- Chronic (long-term) cough
- Increased mucus buildup in the chest
Some unfavorable reactions seem to stem from the interaction of CBD with drugs or chemicals. These effects include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach ache
- Decreased blood pressure
Now, THC is linked to side effects that range from mild to severe. Among the most common are the following:
- Increased heart rate
- Coordination problems
- Dry mouth
- Memory loss
- Slow reaction time
- Concentration problems
How to choose the right marijuana product for you
Choosing the most suitable marijuana product for you can be confusing. Here are some aspects you need to take into account to find the one that will address what you are looking for:
- THC or CBD?
- Indica or sativa?
THC or CBD?
Before getting into the complexity of strain traits, you need to ask yourself a simple question: do you want to smoke weed to get high? If the answer is yes, the most obvious choice are strains with a good amount of THC. If the answer is no, you'll want to focus on strains with high levels of CBD (THC's non-psychotropic relative).
Indica or sativa?
The second question you should ask yourself is: indica or sativa? Generally speaking, most strains are indica-dominant or sativa-dominant. Indica strainsf tend to have a more body and relaxing effect, while sativas produce euphoric feelings and encourage creativity. If you want a safe option, hybrid strains are a logical choice as they contain elements of both types of strains and some have 50% indica and 50% sativa genetics.
When choosing the right strain, it's easy to get bogged down in highly technical details, thinking about possible combinations of terpenes and the like. To keep things simple, think about your favorite flavors. Do you like sweets, or do you prefer more spicy and earthy nuances? If you dislike smoking, edible cannabis products are available for you!
Check out our e-shop with home delivery or visit us in one of our locations to get the best marijuana flowers, edibles, and accessories. Don’t hesitate to contact our team if you have any questions, we will be happy to help you!