Cannabis Strains 101

What is a “strain?” 

The first thing to cover in cannabis strains 101 is what a strain is.  A strain is a term for a genetic variant of cannabis sativa. Like humans, cannabis plants can be almost infinitely diverse, but get most of their instructions on how to grow and what to grow into from their parents. Each strain will have its own unique characteristics, but will always fall into one of three broad families – Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid.

What is a Sativa strain?

Sativa strains hail from the African subcontinent, South America, and other equatorial lands. Sativa strains are typically sought out to boost mood, energy levels, creativity, and provide a cerebral or “head-heavy” experience.

Common conditions people use Sativa strains to treat include:

  • Depression
  • Daytime Pain
  • ADHD
  • Nausea, Vomiting, and Loss of Appetite
  • PTSD

What is an Indica strain?

Indica strains hail from Central Asia, Himalayan regions, and parts of the Middle East. Indica strains are typically sought out to provide analgesic (painkilling) effects, anxiety relief, appetite stimulation, and sedation – they provide a corporeal, or “body-heavy” effect.

Common conditions people use Indica strains to treat include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and Panic
  • Nausea, Vomiting, and Loss of Appetite
  • Chronic Pain and Inflammation
  • Spasms, Tremor, and Tension

What is a Hybridized strain?

A hybridized strain, or “hybrid,” is a plant that contains a mix of Indica and Sativa genetics. Growers may hybridize plants to get the most medical potential in one package – for example, combining uplifting and energizing effects of a sativa strain with the painkilling and calming effects of an indica. Hybrids will often express dominance – their effects will often be Indica-dominant or Sativa-dominant, depending on the characteristics they inherit from their parents. With so many hybridized plants, it can be helpful to think of cannabis as a spectrum from pure indica to pure sativa, with hybrid strains making up the space in between.

What can THC-dominant strains offer?

These strains are psychoactive and most often used in the treatment of those who have previous experience consuming cannabis. Strains higher in THC are typically better suited for evening or nighttime use, as they tend to cause more functional impairment than balanced or CBD-dominant strains. THC can provide nausea relief, analgesia (pain relief), muscle relaxation, anti-depressant and euphoric effects, and appetite stimulation. Strains high in THC are often used to treat:

  • Chronic and Breakthrough Pain
  • Nausea, Loss of Appetite, and Wasting
  • PTSD
  • Tremor and Convulsions

What can Balanced strains offer?

A balanced strain possesses an equal or near equal ratio of THC and CBD. The psychoactivity of balanced strains is curbed by CBD’s influence, and can allow for higher doses of THC to be administered while preserving daytime function.  Like a hybrid, a balanced strain can combine the best of both worlds with symptoms relief from CBD+THC. Note that in the case of balanced indica strains, the combination of CBD and THC can sometimes intensify drowsiness and somnolence.

What can CBD-dominant strains offer?

These strains are non-psychoactive, meaning they won’t produce functional impairment. CBD can be well tolerated by almost anyone, and is a valuable treatment for those seeking symptom relief without the associated cerebral effects. CBD is a potent anti-epileptic and anti-convulsant, an anti-nociceptive (painkiller), mood regulator, anti-inflammatory, anti-addictive, anti-emetic, and more. High-CBD strains are most often used to treat:

  • Epilepsy
  • Addiction
  • Mood, Anxiety, and Thought Disorders
  • Chronic Pain and Inflammation, especially in Autoimmune conditions.
  • Nausea