Last time on Medical cannabis basics, we talked all about CBD. Today, we are going to talk about cannabis strains.
What are cannabis strains? Cannabis strains are basically names of specific cannabis to distinguish what the plant was bred with (What 2 types of strains came together to make this one), what type of cannabis it is (Sativa or Indica) and what profile it holds (what cannabinoids and terpenes are present in the specific strain).
Are strains really important? With strain names like "sour tsunami" and "harlequin", strain names sound more like a marketing technique; something for people to pique their curiosity and go "What? What's that?". And I do think this is partly the case; You're more willing to buy something that sounds unique or cool. However, different kinds of strains aren't just bred for the next crazy name. With each different strain, there is a different cannabinoid profile, which will, in turn, interact with your endocannabinoid receptors differently. That's why some strains make you feel euphoric or energized while others make you feel more relaxed, or creative, or want to listen to music.
But when you're a medical patient, paying attention to strains is important. Think about modern medicine for a second; think about pain relievers. Maybe Ibuprofen gets rid of headaches, but not much else. Tylenol helps with aches and pains, but you feel sleepy or weak. Aleve gets rid of menstrual cramps, but gives you constipation. These are all pain relievers, but they work on different things based on how they are made. Strains work the same way.
Sour Diesel may really work for fatigue, but might not help at all with chronic pain. California orange may help with the back pain, but not do anything for the stomach cramps or insomnia. And some strains might only have negative side effects like creating anxiety.
A lot of people, including myself, get a couple of different strains; not just so you don't get used to one thing, but so there is a different strain for each situation. Especially if you have a bunch of different ailments you are trying to treat. For example, you can have a strain to treat depression, another strain to treat chronic pain, and another strain to just treat gastrointestinal problems.
When choosing a strain, look on leafly.com to see what the general consensus is as a guideline of how you may feel; or, ask your budtender. Then at home, really pay attention to your body, and how you feel. What ailments are relieved, if any; What negative side effects you experience, if any. In the beginning, this can be trial and error. And it can be a fun experience if you're passionate about it. But once you know where you're at and what best treats your symptoms, for some, it can be a life-changing experience.
So, try different strains. Keep different kinds of strains and pay attention to your body. A lot of recreational people just pay attention to the high and how they can get higher. A lot of people don't pay attention to their body and think that every high or strain is the same. But for medical patients, we have to pay more attention to if our symptoms are relieved.
What are sativa and indica?
Why does everyone talk about these categories? Is it another marketing scheme similar to strain names? Well, just like the strain of cannabis, the category of cannabis is just as important to pay attention to. Sativa and Indica is an easy way to guide you to where you want to go to medicate yourself.
Breaking it down, Sativa is described as a "head high"; Though to me, that's always been a broad and simple term. Basically, Sativa's generally produce feelings of euphoria; it can stimulate your appetite, give you more energy to motivate you to do things; Which is good when you have fatigue symptoms. Sativa's can make you more focused on one task. In medical terms, I would say Sativas are good for people who have depression, fatigue, ADHD, people who have a hard time eating. Which can include those who have nausea, no appetite, I've even read it's helped people with eating disorders. Though a lot of naysayers will say that it only helps people going through chemo with appetite, this isn't the case...it can help anyone who has trouble eating or trouble with nausea. For me personally, I have to take medication to get my GI tract moving because it can't do that on its own. The medication suppresses my appetite and can make me throw up. Even if I don't, I feel nauseous the whole time. The whole procedure takes 2-3 days. After the 3rd or 4th day mark, if I don't eat, I just don't feel hungry. Cannabis has been a lifesaver in these instances. It has not only helped chronic pain, but it has lessened nausea, so I don't throw up and have to start over. And I'm more likely to eat during or after the procedure.
So Indica's are more of a "body high"; again, too simple and broad of a term. Indica's also make you hungry—maybe more so than Sativas—they give you tingles all over your body; Indicas can also make you forgetful, sleepy, relaxed, and very imaginative. They are also a great pain reliever, better than Sativas. In medical terms, Indicas would be good for insomnia, chronic pain, trouble eating, relieving stress and anxiety, and GI problems. You wouldn't think stress would be a good reason because "everyone has stress"; but really, stress can lead to high blood pressure, a lower immune system, IBS, and an increased risk for heart attack which is the #1 leading cause of death in America.
The negative side effects of Sativas for a lot of people is anxiety, especially if they already have an anxiety disorder. The negative side effect for Indicas is people tend to forget things, and they can feel unmotivated.
But wait! There's more! What is a hybrid? A hybrid is a Sativa and an Indica into one bud. Most if not all of the time, one will be more dominant than the other. So, for example, the Blue Dream is an Indica dominant strain (most of the time), California Orange is a Sativa dominant strain. The "dominant" is what you will feel the most, but you will get the medical benefits from both sides.
So, a Sativa dominant hybrid can make you more energized but still take care of your pain. An Indica dominant hybrid can make you relaxed and sleepy, taking care of the pain and still experience happiness and creativity.
Though fun fact, because cannabis has been cultivating for years now, it's actually hard to find a pure Indica or pure Sativa strain...finding one is like finding a gem.
In the next lesson, we will be talking about cannabinoids and terpenes.