Sativa and Indica: The Origin of Cannabis
Cannabis has long been broken down into three categories: sativa, indica, and hybrid. Indica strains are believed to be physically sedating and best for nighttime use, sativa strains are believed to be energizing and best for daytime use, and hybrids are believed to be a blend of both. However, when you take a look at the chemical makeup of indicas and sativas, there's not much of a pattern to explain why one would be sedating and the other uplifting. More recently, it is believed that the differences in effect between strains comes down to the terpene and cannabinoid ratios more than the ratio of indica to sativa genetics. In reality, indica, sativa, and hybrid heritage is more useful information for those growing the plants than those consuming them. Sativa plants will grow taller with narrow fan leaves and longer flowering periods, while indica plants grow shorter with wider fan leaves and shorter flowering periods. Sativas grow better in warmer or humid climates and indicas grow better in colder or drier climates.
It's becoming more well understood that the noticeable differences in effects between strains have more to do with which ratios of various terpenes are contained within the flower. We're going to go through some of the most common terpenes found in hemp flower and the effects they generally provide.
Myrcene is the most common dominant terpene in cannabis. Dominant terpene being the one that is contained in the highest percentage. Strains dominant in myrcene are believed to provide a calming, relaxing effect. Myrcene like all terpenes is not only found in cannabis, but also in a multitude of other plants. These include hops, lemongrass, mango, cardamon, and verbena among others. Myrcene is a potentially valuable antioxidant.
High-limonene strains are believed to provide relief from anxiety and stress. Limonene on its own smells quite citrusy and fruity, but like all other terpenes, this smell can change when in combination with others. Other plant sources of limonene include citrus rinds and juniper. Suggested benefits of limonene also include mood elevation as well as antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Caryophyllene is, interestingly enough, the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system in the brain. This allows it to provide anti-inflammatory effects. Caryophyllene has a spicy to somewhat woody aroma, and other plant sources include black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Caryophyllene has been suggested to be helpful for anxiety and/or depression, so seek out strains high in caryophyllene when looking to relax.
Humulene is a terpene found in cannabis as well as hops. It has a fresh, herbal scent. Humulene has the same chemical formula as caryophyllene, but they differ slightly in structure. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects. Strains high in humulene share many of the relaxing properties of those high in caryophyllene.
Pinene, as you may guess from the name, has a distinct pine-like smell. Pinene is the most common terpene in the plant world and can be found in a multitude of plants including all varieties of pine, as well as rosemary, dill, and basil. Strains high in pinene are generally believed to be uplifting and focusing. Pinene has been suggested to be useful for asthma and inflammation.