What’s In A Name? Indica? Sativa?

As one of the oldest agricultural and economic crops, cannabis has been a part of human life for thousands of years. Over time and with human migration around the globe, the plant has been used in multifaceted ways and has taken on two different names: Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa.

The term “indica” is generally used by pop society to describe strains with a sedative, drowsy effect. The term “sativa” are expected to be the opposite, providing clear-headed mental stimulation and energy. Prior to the late 1900s, hemp and fiber varieties of cannabis were often referred to as Cannabis sativa while intoxicating “drug” varieties were labeled Cannabis indica.   

Unfortunately, the idea that these two varieties produce distinct effects may be wrong. Recent research suggests that the indica-sativa denomination may have little to no bearing on the actual effect of a particular cannabis strain.

Strains are distinguished by their individual cannabinoid and terpene content. These compounds are believed to truly determine the strain’s overall effects.

The Cannabis plant is made up of numerous compounds, each giving an impact for use and effect. Here are a few of the most known components.

  • THC. THC is 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. 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.
  • 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.

Terpenes are another naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant. The terpenes present directly affect the plant’s smell. 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. Linalool is said to help improve relaxation and boost mood with its floral notes.
  • 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. This terpene 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.

Based on this understanding, the intricate synergy of these molecules is what gives each cannabis strain its unique personality, not its indica or sativa status. 

So, there is a lot more to a name. Continue to learn about the many details of cannabis and how it can help in you life. Reach out to us for more information and guidance.

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