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If you are just starting out on your cannabis journey, all the information you need to learn can be overwhelming. There are so many different strains of cannabis out there and it can be difficult to decide which strain is best for you.
So exactly how do you find out what strain will help you with your health needs? The process can be simple, and the good news is that you do not have to do it alone. Here at WholesomeCo, we are here to help.
What is a cannabis strain?
A “strain” is technically defined as a “genetic variant” of a particular plant. These varieties are called “strains” in the common vernacular, but should properly be referred to as chemovars as they do not meet the scientific definition of a strain. A great non-cannabis example would be all the varieties of apples available today. There are green, red, and yellow varieties and different labels for the different varieties, such as Granny Smith, Red Delicious, and Fiji.
When it comes to cannabis, different strains, or chemovars, can give cannabis flowers unique aromas, tastes, strengths, appearance, and, most importantly, effects. Many people over the years have described cannabis strains in terms of “indica varieties” and “sativa varieties.” These are names you have probably already heard of. (1)
Research has shown, however, that cannabis strains are about a lot more than just these two rather vague categories. Regional conditions, environmental varieties, cultivation techniques, phytonutrient content, and especially terpene compositions all contribute to the creation of a particular “strain” of cannabis. (2)
Indeed, today there are literally hundreds of different strains available from across the globe. Many of them are “patented” varieties created by specific cultivars, including right here in the Beehive state. Many proprietary strains are labeled as “hybrids,” meaning they are a mixture of two or more strains. Some hybrids may be “indica dominant” while others are “sativa dominant.” Again, these differentiations describe just one aspect of what makes a cannabis strain unique.
The top cannabis strains for the 4 most common conditions
It is up to you to do your homework (or talk to one of our Doctorate-level pharmacists) to get the info you need. Here at WholesomeCo, we offer only the highest quality cannabis loose flower and cannabis-based products.
A little bit later on in this article, we will present a set of questions that you can go over with one of our helpful pharmacists to help you get the clarity you need. That being said, let’s get started by taking a look at the four most common uses for specific cannabis strains. As you read them, consider how they may benefit you for your unique health needs.
Best strains for sleep
If you have ever had trouble with insomnia, restless sleep, or some other sleep condition, then you know how it can wreak havoc on every aspect of your life. According to the Sleep Foundation, close to 85% of all people who use medical cannabis for all reasons say that it also helps improve their sleep. (3)
High THC cannabis has been shown to help with problems in falling asleep initially. If used regularly, however, high THC strains may also lead to deprivation in REM sleep. REM sleep is the part of the sleep cycle that is responsible for information processing and mood regulation. (4)
On the other hand, strains that contain an equal amount of mid-range or even low-range THC to CBD or have slightly higher CBD content are great for slowly rebalancing your sleep cycle so that you fall asleep, stay asleep and, most importantly, obtain quality sleep throughout the night. (5) Terpenes that can add to a sedative effect for better sleep include myrcene and caryophyllene, amongst others.
Some of the best strains for sleep available through WholesomeCo are:
- Purple Punch
- Purple Afghan Kush
- Fruit by the Foot
Best strains for pain
Pain relief is probably the number one reason why people use cannabis in general. The reason why cannabis works so well for so many different kinds of pain has to do with the way that both CBD and THC bind to cannabinoid cellular receptors within the endocannabinoid system. These receptors are also linked to specific areas of the brain and neurological signaling mechanisms connected to pain regulation.
Besides CBD, CBG is another cannabinoid that is getting increasing attention for its ability to lower pain. Researchers have shown that CBG can bind to receptors to strengthen the functions of the neurotransmitter anandamide. (6) Anandamide is a lipid that plays a role in feelings of pleasure and motivation. It plays a role in alleviating pain and has also been shown to help with sleep and suppressing appetite.
In addition, super anti-inflammatory terpenes such as pinene and humulene are also great to include in your pain-relieving strain of choice. The best WholesomeCo strains for pain contain equal amounts of THC and CBG/CBG, include anti-inflammatory terpenes, and are often categorized as “indica-dominant.” Some of these are:
- Gorilla OG
- Purple Afghan Kush (a good choice for chronic pain as well)
Strains for anxiety and PTSD
Cannabis in general has long been known to help with a variety of mental and emotional conditions related to anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD. This is because the endocannabinoid system, which cannabis helps to fortify and strengthen, is also intimately connected to the nervous system (and likewise to the endocrine system and brain).
A 2018 study report published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that high-THC/High-CBD cannabis can be extremely effective for calming the immediate manifestations of a panic attack. (7)
On the other hand, CBD-rich strains have shown to provide rebalancing over time and to have a calming effect in the long term. A 2015 meta-analysis of other studies conducted by New York University School of Medicine found that straight CBD can provide relief for not only general anxiety disorder (GAD), but also OCD and PTSD too. (8)
Other studies have found that strains which contain THCV can be helpful for both panic attacks and general anxiety. If you use THCV, be aware that it can sometimes cause appetite suppression. In addition, the terpenes myrcene and pinene are great for helping with calming the nervous system and anxiety.
Research also indicates that inhaled cannabis at the onset can be the best way to offset a panic attack. This method will enter the bloodstream quickly and its effects will be rapid. In the state of Utah, it is illegal to “smoke” cannabis (in the form of a pipe or a joint). However, one can use cannabis flower in vape form, which will have the same effect. State law also allows the use of transdermal patches, sublingual tinctures, and “gelatinous cubes,” although the effects of these methods will not be as quickly noticeable.
Some strains that could help with the short term and long-term effects of anxiety and PTSD include:
- White Chocolate
- Purple Punch
The best strains for depression
It may seem counterintuitive that a plant that so many use for calming anxiety and getting to sleep at night can also help lift the spirits (and energy levels) of people who suffer from depression. This is exactly what researchers have discovered about certain strains of cannabis, however.
Investigations have also found that people with depression (either PTSD-related or non-PTSD-related) tended to have a depletion of endocannabinoids. (9) Endocannabinoids are lipid neurotransmitter substances found within the endocannabinoid system that are created internally by the body. They are similar in structure to cannabinoids found in cannabis, which is why cannabis can be so beneficial for this system and for the entire body.
When it comes to depression, studies (and lots of anecdotal evidence) have found that the best strains are those which are labeled as “sativa dominant” as well as those which contain at least slightly higher levels of THC than CBD. Experts caution against regular high use of THC for depression, however, since taking too much may have the opposite effect.
As you can see from the information above, cannabis can either be a sedative, calming substance or it can give you energy and act as a stimulant. The biggest factor in determining if a strain is one or the other is going to be the kinds of cannabinoids within the plant (specifically the ratio of THC to CBD) as well as the different kinds of terpenes that are included in a chemovar. Different terpenes may enhance or balance out the effect of a particular cannabinoid.
When medical cannabis patients and professionals talk about cannabis “strength,” most of the time they are referencing the strength of the psychoactive cannabinoids, mainly THC. As we discussed above, sometimes you may want high-dose THC, such as when you want to curb a panic attack. Other times you may want a lower amount of THC, such as when you are wanting to balance out sleep-related issues and increase quality sleep over time.
Some examples of “strong strains” (i.e., high THC levels) available at WholesomeCo include:
- Pie Hoe
- Space Monkey
Some of the milder and more gentle strains (i.e., lower levels of THC) include:
- Candy Margy
- Purple Punch
Also, keep in mind that how your body reacts to a particular strain may be vastly different than how another person may react to it. It is important to start “low and slow” when trying out new strains or methods of consumption, especially if that strain contains high amounts of THC. Finding the right THC strength for you is a perfect reason to contact one of our professional-level pharmacists for a free “Cannabis Curious” consult today.
The making of a strain: 4 Utah Strains and how they got their name
If you are new to medical cannabis (and even if you are not) you may be wondering about the often strange-sounding and sometimes downright quirky strain names that you see at your local medical cannabis pharmacy. You may be wondering who came up with them and, more importantly, why.
The very first distinct, cultivar-created strains of cannabis did not emerge until the 20th century. Strains like Hindu Kush (from India), Acapulco Gold (Mexico), and Maui Wowee were specifically connected to geological regions and their popularity and notoriety lasted well into the second half of the 21st century.
Nowadays, names originate from unique properties, such as taste, aroma, or effect, from particular genetics, or in honor of the person who created it (or put their “stamp” on it to promote it).
Examples are Pop Tart, named after its taste and smell, Purple Kush, named after the “Kush” genetic line of indica-dominant plants, and “Willie Nelson,” named, obviously, after the celebrity singer and known. Just like the singer, this strain is known for its creative, energetic, and upbeat effects.
Here in Utah and around the Southwest, there is a growing number of cultivars, including WholesomeCo, who are adding their signature brands to the list of homegrown selections.
Here are just a few and a little bit about them:
#1 Khalifa Kush
Khalifa Kush (also known as “Wiz Khalifa OG” or just “KK”) is named after rapper Wiz Khalifa. It was originally created specifically for him by cultivars from RiverRock Cannabis based in Colorado. Now the public can enjoy it as well through Utah-based Tryke. KK comes from “OG Kush” genetics (hence the “Kush” in the name). It has a piney, sour and earthy aroma with a lemony, piney taste. It is a hybrid with “sativa dominance.” It produces a cerebral, uplifting effect that is great for lifting mood and diving into creative projects, especially during the day.
#2 Sundae Driver
Sundae Driver is also known as “Sunday Driver.” It is a hybrid cannabis strain that is a cross between Grape Pie and FPOG (also known as “Fruity Pebbles," or “Fruity Pebbles OG”). Just like its parents, Sundae Driver also has a delightful, fruity aroma and taste which are enhanced by the terpene limonene yet subdued by beta-caryophyllene and linalool. It is known for creating a sense of well-balanced calm and an overall positive, happy feeling. Sundae Driver is available via the dispensary in Utah - Wholesome.co from Salt Lake City-based Dragonfly as well as Tryke.
#3 Mad Max
Mad Max’s name is a lot more foreboding than its effects (anyone who has seen the 1980’s film by the same name knows what we mean here). In general, the effect of this sativa-dominating hybrid is a sense of happiness as well as a boost of energy that can make creative projects fun and even productive.
Make no mistake, however, Mad Max does pack a punch, so we advise to take it “low and slow” when starting out with this one. Its laser-focused potency probably comes from its genetics. It is a cross between two Netherlands-based strains, “Amnesia Haze” and “Top44.” Amnesia Haze is known for efficient growing (it can flower in less than two months). Top44 is known for producing feelings of abundant energy, vitality, and even euphoria.
Taste and smell-wise, Mad Max has an earthy, piney scent that is similar to other OG Kush strains. According to experts, this strain is often enjoyed by individuals wanting relief from stress disorders, ADD/ADHD, and even migraines. Mad Max also goes by “Mad Max OG” and “Mad Max #33.” In Utah, Mad Max is available through WholesomeCo from Zion Cultivars located in American Fork, Utah as well as Curaleaf, which has operations nationwide, including here in Utah.
#4 Orange Zkittlez
As the name implies, “Orange Zkittles” (or “OZ”) has an intensely characteristic citrus-orange scent and taste. It comes from a cross between two other strains—Agent Orange and Zkittlez. While these two strains can leave a person with both relaxation and an uplifted energy, OZ kicks it up a notch. Like with Mad Max, it's best to take it “low and slow” at first with this one. This strain is great for stress relief and to lift depression as well. OZ is available in Utah via WholesomeCo from cultivar Tryke.
#5 Pie Hoe
Last but not least is “Pie Hoe,” also available via WholesomeCo from Tryke. Pie Hoe is a cross between Grape Pie and Tahoe OG. It contains a “fruity, spicey” aroma which is slightly grape-tasting and pungent. It can produce a super-mellow, almost euphoric sensation. Experts warn, however, that Pie Hoe’s “high” is not for the faint of heart. If you are not an experienced medical cannabis user, it is best to go “low and slow” with this one as well. Pie Hoe also has a unique combination of terpenes, beta-caryophyllene primarily as well as myrcene and limonene, which adds to the mix to create a state of potential bliss that could last for hours. The best time to partake in Pie Hoe is when you are ready to settle in for the evening, relax and then get a good night’s rest.
How to find the best strain for you
Whether it is relief from pain or helping with anxiety, your goals are unique to you and only you know what they are. Here are some specific questions to consider as you focus on choosing a strain and a product that will work for your needs:
- How do you want to feel when taking medical cannabis in general?
- If you want to have more energy, do you want abundant energy or to simply feel focused?
- If you want to calm down, do you want to be sedated or, again, just be relaxed?
You are unique and so is your body! Most people who are just starting out discover the best medical cannabis strains and products for their qualifying condition through experimentation over time as well as just a little trial and error.
That doesn’t mean that it has to be a guessing game, nor do you have to do it alone. Here at WholesomeCo, we have a whole team of Doctorate-level pharmacists who are qualified to help you on your way with cannabis no matter what stage you are at. Schedule your free consultation today.
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