Choosing the right strain of medical cannabis can be a confusing and frustrating experience. There are so many different and unusual names that are not always representative of the desired medicinal effects. We hope this discussion will provide you with a common sense approach to selecting the strain that provides the most effective relief for your medical ailment.
The first step in identifying the correct strain is to identify your desired effects. A helpful way to accomplish this is to separate the effects into two categories: Head and Body.
Most cannabis strains effect your head or brain within minutes after medicating. The effect may consist of a heavy and foggy feeling or a clear and active feeling and can be classified on a scale of 1 to 7 with number 1 being heavy and foggy and number 7 being the clearest and most active. Head effects may start sooner than body effects but tend to wear off sooner.
The body or physical effect is usually felt within 5 to 15 minutes after the “head effect”. This effect can vary from being relaxing and sleepy, to being uplifting and energetic. We can also apply the 1 to 7 scale to the “body effects” with 1 being the most relaxing and 7 being the most uplifting. Body effects usually take longer to set in but tend to last longer than “head effects”.
To simplify things, we have made seven categories of the most common kinds of medicinal relief provided by cannabis: 1 being the heaviest Indica and 7 being the clearest Sativa.
Depending on which category or desired effect you wish to achieve, you can use the scale to find out which type of medicine you are looking for and the suggested strains of that category.
Type 1: Long lasting physical relief with a heavy and intense head effect. This kind of medicine is known as Heavy Indica, and is recommended for sleep, relaxation and pain related issues. Examples of strains that are in this category include: AK-47, Grand Daddy Purple, Romulan, MK Ultra, Peak 19 and Ogre.
Type 2: Long lasting physical relief with a clear and easy to function head effect. This kind of medicine is known as Clear Indica, and is recommended for daytime physical relief. Examples of strains with Clear Indica attributes are: Blackberry Kush, Northern Lights, Morning Star, Sensi Star and Snow Cap.
Type 3: A physical and mental balance that is more on the heavy side. This kind of medicine is known as a Heavy Hybrid and is recommended for patients seeking pain relief or relaxation that is not too drowsy. Examples of strains with Heavy hybrid attributes are: White Rhino, Purple Kush, Cotton Candy, Champagne and Grape Ape.
Type 4: An even balance of Head and Body effects. This kind of medicine is known as Even Hybrid and is recommended for patients who do not want to be too active or too drowsy. Examples of strains with Even Hybrid are: S.A.G.E, Cali-O, Silver Haze, Cherry Pie and Northern Lights X Haze
Type 5: An even balance of head and body effects which is more on the clear side. This kind of medicine is known as Clear Hybrid and is recommended for patients looking for a balance of head and body that is a little bit more on the clear side. Examples of strains with Clear Hybrid attributes are: Odyssey, Blue Dream, White Widow, Bubbleberry and Cali-O.
Type 6: An uplifting body effect alongside some strong physical and mental relief. This kind of medicine is known as Heavy Sativa and is recommended for patients looking for an intense and uplifting body with a heavy head effect. Examples of strains with Heavy Sativa are: Sour Diesel, OG Kush, Jack Frost, Trainwreck and Headband.
Type 7: An uplifting and clear effect without a physical side to it. This kind of medicine is known as Clear Sativa and is recommended for patients who are looking for a Clear Head with little or no Physical effects that is easy to function on. Examples of strains that have Clear Sativa attributes are: Kali Mist, Power Plant, Jack Herer, Durban Poison and Strawberry Kush.
Remember to always consult with your patient representative, as new strains become available and the above listed strains are only examples.
One very important factor in choosing the right medicine is that each strain has a “ceiling” or amount and type of cannabinoids that can be received by your body at a certain time. That is why you gain a tolerance faster to certain strains and others seem to medicate the same way longer. By choosing to use different strains, about three or four, that you can rely on, it is easier to keep your cannabinoid receptors fresh and ready to be activated by the next type of medicine you are using. This will help you conserve your medicine and get the maximum effect from it.
Having a few strains to medicate with can also help to reach the desired cannabinoid balance you are looking for. It is also worth mentioning that accurately estimating cannabinoid effects must be treated with some subjectivity. Each patient has an individual reaction to each type of medicine and experimentation with different types of strains is essential for the new patient. Keep a journal and record your body and head reactions to each strain and remove much of the guess work from selecting the strains that work best for you.
1.PLC Berkeley, www.berkeleypatientscare.com
4.The Michigan Policy on Cannabis, http://www.michigan.gov/mdch