Have you ever wondered why individual strains of cannabis affect you differently?
While some types of marijuana make you feeling lethargic and half asleep, others give you a burst of creative energy allowing you to be active all day or into the night. There are hundreds of other specific reactions to pot depending on which variety you consume. All of this is definitely not rocket science but it is actually very scientific.
Many of the hippies and cannabis entrepreneurs from the 1960s “turned on, tuned in and dropped out” back then and moved up to Washington, Oregon and Northern California, and other places to escape the prying eyes of law enforcement and those who have no empathy for marijuana users. They began their own cannabis plantations and many of them have been experimenting with marijuana for decades. And by experimenting we mean they have been scientifically mixing and matching marijuana plants to come up with their version of what the ideal bud breed is.
Most people, when they classify a marijuana strain simply tell you it’s either sativa, indica or a hybrid of the two. One strain may be sativa-dominant , which means that the effects will be uplifting and move you to be creative, or it will be indica-dominant, which is just the opposite, that is, relaxing and sedating – you may doze off a bit. However, just because the strain is heavy on one versus the other, doesn’t tell us what’s really going on inside that bud you’re about to grind down to pop in your bowl. There’s a lot more to it than indica and sativa.
We’ve talked about cannabinoids and terpenes previously in this blog. Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds in marijuana that interact with the endocannabinoid system in our brains and bodies and can produce feelings of euphoria along with providing healing properties such as stopping pain and reducing epileptic seizures. Laboratory research scientists have uncovered over 80 cannabinoids in marijuana so far and currently, the most famous cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
Terpenes, the cannabinoid-like aromatic hydrocarbon compounds in marijuana, produce the unique fragrance of each marijuana plant. They also aid in the production of the plant’s resins, hormones, and pigments among other things. When certain terpenes are combined with specific cannabinoids, their focus and strength is much stronger than if they were operating alone.
The most famous terpene in marijuana is myrcene. It is found in a number of other plants such as mangos, lemon grass and hops. This terpene is a true medicinal element in cannabis because it’s not only an antiseptic and antimicrobial, but it is an antioxidant and anti-carcinogen also. Myrcene, by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, much like cannabinoids do, can regulate the permeable membranes of the cells, thus controlling the amount of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids that get into the cells. This terpene “helper” allows the effectiveness of the medicinal cannabinoid, whether it is the pain reliever THC or the epileptic seizure stopper CBD to do its job more powerfully than if the cannabinoid had to travel alone to the body’s receptors. This synergistic effectiveness between Cannabinoids and terpenes has been documented in several studies: GW Pharmaceuticals in 2008, The University of Jordan in 2007, and a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects.” The study concluded by saying, terpenes have been found to have medical efficacy typically considered to be delivered only by cannabinoids.
So, in the future, you may see cannabis strains labeled very specifically with all the things you could ever want for your medicinal and recreational needs. The pot strain may be sativa-dominant with a small amount of THC and a large helping of CBD, along with a high percentage of myrcene for added synergistic effect. That day may not be too far away because the government is getting close to decriminalizing cannabis, which means that there will be more research being done on developing the perfect bud just for you.