There are some strains that have very little use. They contain insignificant quantities of cannabinoids and often lack terpenes. Fortunately for the modern cannabis consumer, there are now a plethora of quality strains that cater to various preferences and needs. They offer different cannabinoid and terpene profiles that can provide different benefits and distinct effects. Cannabinoids are the compounds such as THC, CBD, CBC, CBG, etc. Terpenes are the compounds that give cannabis much of the smell and flavor. Some examples of terpenes are Limonene (found in orange peels), Myrcene (found in mangos), Beta Caryophyllene (found in black pepper), etc. There are well over 100 different cannabinoids that have been isolated from the Cannabis plant to date. Many more will likely be discovered as we continue to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of cannabis.
Each cannabinoid has its own properties and effects. For example, THC is thought to have medical benefits and gives the user a euphoric feeling that many people call a “high”. CBD does not induce a high but many people say it provides symptom relief. When a plant contains THC and CBD, the CBD will actually reduce the ‘high’ feeling. When we consider just how many cannabinoids there are and how they interact, the variety of possible effects is hard to fathom.
Terpenes play a key role in enhancing or potentiating the effects of cannabinoids; especially CBD. CBD on its own (often referred to as CBD isolate) has very little effects when compared to a full spectrum oil extracted from a high quality plant. How can you tell if you’re using a high quality plant? It needs to be tested by a lab. A high quality plant typically contains over 20% cannabinoids and 2% terpenes.
When it comes to THC-dominant plants (marijuana), Indicas typically contain a lot of Myrcene, and there’s an interesting story as to why. In the early 1980’s the Afghani #1 strain was brought to the USA with the purpose of growing smaller plants that matured quickly, thus keeping operations discreet during prohibition. Since they grow closer to the equator, Sativas tend to grow not only larger, but also take more time to finish. Indicas grow far away from the equator so they have evolved to finish more quickly due to the shorter growing season. Because of this, the Afghani #1 strain became the backbone for many Indica genetics. It’s extremely Myrcene-rich, so it’s descendants are Indicas that are also high in Myrcene, inducing a relaxed “high”.
Sativas grow closer to the equator, so they’ve adjusted to longer growing seasons and evolved to take more time to finish. These plants grow to be taller than Indicas and have much thinner leaves, most likely due to the humidity levels where they naturally grow. Many people claim that Sativas cause a much more energetic ‘high’ than Indicas due to low Myrcene levels. However, it is technically possible for a Sativa to have high levels of Myrcene, thus inducing a similar “high” to that of an Indica.
It is said that some cannabis consumers can tell what strain is best for them from smell alone. The human body is very intuitive in that way. Although certain people can intuit what’s best for them, the best way to find the right strain for your needs is to try a variety and take notes the distinctive properties of each. The more information you have about a strain the more you will come to understand how cannabis works with your specific body chemistry.