The more we learn about the cannabis plant, the less validity the categories of “sativa, indica & hybrid” have. The rule of thumb is that sativas are more energizing, while indicas are more relaxing — but it isn’t really that simple.
Individual plants produce varying effects, even among the same type of cannabis, it all depends on the plant’s chemical composition and the growing technique used. Strains are distinguished by their individual cannabinoid and terpene content, the compounds which determine the strain’s overall effects.
The most common cannabinoids are:
- THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the main psychoactive compound in cannabis plants. It’s responsible for the “high” or state of euphoria associated with cannabis use. Levels of THC have been increasing as growers try to create hybrids with a greater concentration of the compound.
- CBD – Cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive. It doesn’t cause a “high.” However, it may produce many physical benefits, such as reducing pain and nausea, preventing seizures, and easing migraine.
- CBN – Cannabinol (CBN) is used to ease symptoms and side effects of neurological conditions, including epilepsy, seizures, and uncontrollable muscle stiffness. CBN is also the cannabinoid that is best for managing insomnia as it causes drowsiness without groggy feelings the next morning.
- THCA – Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) is similar to THC, but it doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects. Its potential benefits include reducing inflammation from arthritis and autoimmune diseases. It may also help reduce symptoms of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and ALS.
- CBG – Cannabigerol (CBG) is thought to help reduce anxiety and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.
Cannabis’ distinct aroma isn’t coming from THC, CBD or other cannabinoids. Instead, it’s the terpenes that give cannabis its unique fragrance and flavor. Terpenes may also influence the cannabis experience and may convey some of its potential therapeutic benefits.
A lot of attention is paid to the amount of THC and CBD in a given strain, but newer research suggests that terpenes may be just as impactful. Terpenes are another naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant. The terpenes present directly affect the plant’s smell and flavor. Studies show that they may also influence the effects produced by specific strains.
According to Leafly, common terpenes include:
- Bisabolol – With notes of chamomile and tea tree oil, the terpene bisabolol is thought to reduce inflammation and irritation. It may also have microbial and pain-reducing effects.
- Caryophyllene – The peppery, spicy molecule may reduce anxiety, ease symptoms of depression, and improve ulcers.
- Linalool – is said to help improve relaxation and boost mood with its floral notes. It may also help reduce insomnia.
- Myrcene – the most common terpene, this earthy, herbal molecule may help reduce anxiety and insomnia so you can sleep better.
- Ocimene – this terpene produces notes of basil, mango, and parsley. Its primary effects may include easing congestion and warding off viruses and bacteria.
- Pinene – As the name suggests, this terpene produces an intense pine aroma. It may help boost memory, reduce pain, and ease some of the not-so-pleasant symptoms of THC, such as nausea and coordination problems.
- Terpinolene – Cannabis with this compound may smell like apples, cumin, and conifers. It may have sedative, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
- Limonene – Bright, zippy citrus notes come from this terpene. It’s said to improve mood and reduce stress.
- Humulene – is deeply earthy and woody, like hops or cloves. Cannabis strains with this molecule may reduce inflammation.
- Eucalyptol – With notes of eucalyptus and tea tree oil, this molecule is refreshing and invigorating. It may also reduce inflammation and fight bacteria.
The more research that’s done, the more we learn that individual plants produce varying effects, even among the same type of cannabis, it all depends on the plant’s chemical composition and the growing technique used. Terpenes and cannabinoids are two compounds found in cannabis that when used together help produce a synergistic effect. Selecting strains based upon these effects can help you to achieve the result you desire.