If you’ve ever purchased cannabis from a dispensary, you know it’s often grouped into indica, sativa, and hybrids. But when it comes to the type of high you can expect, these classifications aren’t always your best navigation tool. In this article, we will take a look at the real difference between the indica and sativa plants and offer some suggestions for how to pick a cannabis strain.
The Truth About Indica vs. Sativa
You’ve heard the distinction that indicas are supposed to be sedative while sativas are uplifting, right? It turns out that this long-held belief doesn’t always hold up. The definitive difference between indica and sativa plants is physical. Indicas are short, broad plants and are thought to hail from the mountains of Pakistan. Sativas, on the other hand, are taller and thin and are said to come from tropical areas. While we can’t be sure of their exact origins, one thing leading cannabis researchers are sure about is that physical attributes don’t determine the type of high they produce.
How to Pick a Cannabis Strain
The cannabis we buy today has undergone generations of cross-breeding and hybridizing, without records of distinct genetic origins. Rather than wondering if the hybridized cannabis you buy is a sativa or indica, you are better off gauging how it will affect you based on its chemical makeup, starting with its cannabinoid and terpene content. While most everyone is aware of THC and CBD, there are many other compounds that will dictate the way cannabis makes you feel.
The good news is the majority of dispensaries understand the importance of these chemical variations, and most provide a breakdown of the terpenes and cannabinoids found in their products. Here are a few popular cannabinoids and terpenes you might come across when picking a strain:
- Pinene – Also found in pine trees, rosemary, and basil, pinene is one of the most common cannabis terpenes and produces a distinct pine scented aroma. This terpene encourages feelings of alertness and focus, and can even improve memory retention and boost creativity.
- Myrcene – This highly fragrant terpene is found in a variety of plants like mangoes, thyme, lemongrass, and basil. It boasts many pleasant effects and is known to act as a sedative, pain reliever, and an anti-inflammatory.
- CBN – This cannabinoid is good for pain reduction, sedation, and appetite stimulation. If you want something to help you sleep you might want to try stains high in CBN like Girl Scout Cookies and Ace of Spades.
- THC-V – This little-known cannabinoid has the potential to pack a big punch. It’s only psychoactive in high doses and produces a stimulating, clear-headed high. The fascinating thing about it is its ability to suppresses the appetite. So, if you want to stay slim look for strain high in THC-V like Doug’s Varin and Willie Nelson.
While you are likely to still see these old indica/sativa classifications used in the cannabis retail space, this oversimplification really gives an incomplete picture of a plant. Decades of prohibition led to most of our cannabis knowledge coming from word-of-mouth, with little science to back up claims. Fortunately, this is changing, and cannabis is quickly becoming legally accessible. As the scientific community continues to realize the power of this plant more fully, we will start to better understand the role genetics plays in determining the effects of a strain. In the meantime, enjoy sampling a variety of strains to find what works for you as an individual.
Stop By Your Favorite Dispensary for Help!
Need help learning how to pick a cannabis strain? The budtenders at Have a Heart are always happy to guide you in choosing products that provide the effects you desire. Find your nearest dispensary below!