Cannabis affects everyone differently - so how do you know which strain will provide you with the effects you are hoping to achieve?
Step 1: Know Your Body
Anandamine: the cannabinoid our bodies produce
In order to pick a strain it's good to understand how cannabis is utilized within your body. We all have a very efficient endocannabinoid system that can deliver cannabinoids to wherever the body needs it. Cannabinoids aren't just from cannabis, they can also be produced in your own body. The main one Anandamide, also known as the Bliss Molecule is responsible for preventing pain and anxiety, and can cause a sense of euphoria. Anyone who is enthusiastic about their cardiovascular exercise has experienced a surge of anandamine - we typically know it as “runner’s high”!
Anandamine has over 100 relatives, known as phytocannabinoids:
Anandamide is an endocannabinoid - meaning “within, inner, or containing” this is because it is made within your body. Anandamine has over 100 relatives, known as phytocannabiniods, these are the compounds found in the cannabis plant (as well as many other sources!). The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
Can I predict how my body will interact with cannabis?
The short answer is: No.
However, recent studies suggest different people will have similar experiences when given the same product, proving that the levels and combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes in your cannabis are driving specific effects.
Step 2: Know Your Strain
THC: Business or Pleasure? - Why not both!
THC is the main cannabinoid people think about when they think of cannabis. It is the main component that will give you the “high” feeling associated with cannabis use. However, THC isn’t a one-trick-pony and has also shown to take part in relieving variable convulsions associated with seizures, as well as reducing symptoms for other medical conditions, such as pain relief, muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, appetite stimulant, and anti-nausea for illnesses such as cancer.
CBD as a Skeleton Key for our bodies:
The second cannabinoid that is commonly known and gaining in popularity is CBD. This compound does not get you high, in fact, dosing with CBD can be an effective method to reduce symptoms in someone who is having adverse effects to THC. CBD is known for its wide range medicinal effects, it is able to do this because it acts as a skeleton key to multiple receptors in our brain and body that are responsible for anxiety, addiction, appetite, pain, and nausea - and possibly much more, as research continues.
Terpenes: Cannabis' Entourage
You know the delicious smell when you peel an orange and it bursts of citrus? This is thanks to the fragrant oils found in many plants known as terpenes. When you hear cannabis described as "herbal" this is likely thanks to a common terpene known as Myrcene. Perhaps the smell reminds you of a Christmas tree, that would indicate there is likely Pinene in that strain. Limonene is responsible for a citrus-y smell, and there are over 100 more terpenes that can be identified in the cannabis plant. Terpenes are more than just a smell and can impact the effect of the strain thanks to the Entourage Effect. Similarly to how the smell of lavender can have a relaxing effect, the terpenes in cannabis can help you feel relaxed, or uplifted, or even more focused.
Step 3: Explore Available Strains
Word of Mouth
Often the easiest place to start is by opening a dialog with your friends and family. Most people who have had a positive experience with cannabis are enthusiastic to tell you about how much it helped reduce pain due to a chronic injury, or how it just makes them feel good after a long work week - all you have to do is ask!
Search engines can be a mixed bag of opinions and information quality. There are excellent resources available, but as always, you should verify the source of the information you are reading. Luckily in Canada each province has a government run website with accredited information about cannabis and the regulations in the province.
Strain of the Week
Okanagan Cannabis Tours would also like to help you make an informed choice - We will be posting a Strain of the Week to our blog in order to share some of our favourites with you! You can click the link below to see all articles that have been posted so far:
Step 4: Consult Your Budtender
What's in a name?
The final thing to consider once you have picked a strain is that two cannabis products with the same strain name can be subject to variation due to genetic diversity within the breeding of the plant, and the growing practices at the producer's farm. So when you ask for a specific strain, remember to ask if the THC and CBD levels in this product are what you are looking for. This information will always be listed on the outside of the product's package.
A good Budtender has your back:
Your local budtender can be a well of knowledge. If you have a good idea of what you are looking for they may have a new recommendation you've never even heard of! It can be fun to explore your cannabis options and your budtender can be the cicerone to guide you through.
Sometimes, less is more:
With any new strain it is a good idea to start at a low dose and increase as needed next time. Many people are surprised that they are happiest with a much lower dose than they expected.