Since the1970s, Cannabis has been divided into three sub-species, Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Ruderalis. Most strains today are hybrids, a result of careful crossbreeding.
Anything that contains Ruderalis will be referred to as an auto flowering strain, meaning it will produce flowers after a given time, regardless of light exposure. Generally speaking, Indicas are more relaxing and Sativas more stimulating. An easy way to tell the two species apart is by appearance. Indica plants have wider leaves and are shorter trees, making them suitable for growing indoors. Sativa plants are tall with long, narrow leaves. They are usually grown outdoors.
· uplifting, energising and stimulating
· cerebral, spacey or hallucinogenic
· best suited for day use
· relaxing, calming and sedating
· body buzz or ‘couch lock’
· best suited for night use
Both Indica and Sativa are popular for treating medical conditions, but different strains are chosen for different symptom management. Expert product formulators have the experience to know which combinations work best for what condition.
All classes derive from cannabigerol-type compounds and differ mainly in the way this precursor is cyclised. The classical cannabinoids are derived from their respective 2-carboxylic acids (2-COOH) by decarboxylation (catalyzed by heat, light, or alkaline conditions).
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC, THC) and delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), mimic the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body.
These two THCs produce the effects associated with cannabis by binding to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. THC appears to ease moderate pain (analgesic) and to be neuroprotective, while also offering the potential to reduce neuro inflammation and to stimulate neurogenesis. THC has approximately equal affinity for the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is not psychoactive, and was thought not to affect the psychoactivity of THC. However, recent evidence shows that smokers of cannabis with a higher CBD/THC ratio were less likely to experience schizophrenia-like symptoms.
Cannabidiol has little affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors but acts as an indirect antagonist of cannabinoid agonists. Recently it was found to be an antagonist at the putative new cannabinoid receptor, GPR55, a GPCR expressed in the caudate nucleus and putamen. Cannabidiol has also been shown to act as a 5-HT1A receptor agonist. It appears to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea. CBD has a greater affinity for the CB2 receptor than for the CB1 receptor.
CBD shares a precursor with THC and is the main cannabinoid in low-THC Cannabis strains. CBD apparently plays a role in preventing the short-term memory loss associated with THC in mammals.
Some research suggests that the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol potentially represent a novel mechanism in the treatment of schizophrenia. Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center discovered CBD’s ability to ‘turn off’ the activity of ID1, the gene responsible for metastasis in breast and other types of cancers, including the particularly aggressive triple negative breast cancer.
Cannabinol (CBN) is the primary product of THC degradation, and there is usually little of it in a fresh plant. CBN content increases as THC degrades in storage, and with exposure to light and air. It is only mildly psychoactive. Its affinity to the CB2 receptor is higher than for the CB1 receptor.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is non-psychotomimetic but still affects the overall effects of cannabis. It acts as an α2-adrenergic receptor agonist, 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, and CB1 receptor antagonist. It also binds to the CB2 receptor.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is prevalent in certain central Asian and southern African strains of cannabis. It is an antagonist of THC at CB1 receptors and attenuates the psychoactive effects of THC.
Although Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is usually a minor constituent of the cannabinoid profile, enhanced levels of CBDV have been reported in feral cannabis plants from the northwest Himalayas, and in hashish from Nepal.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is non-psychoactive and does not affect the psychoactivity of THC. More common in tropical cannabis varieties. Effects include anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
The aroma of cannabis is known to sooth the mind and body. This is known as terpenes – the pungent oils that give cannabis varieties their distinctive flavours such as berry, mint or pine. Until recently, medical research on cannabis has mostly centred around cannabinoids. However, terpenes are believed to be the next frontier in medical cannabis.
The ‘entourage effect’
Terpenes have been shown to block some cannabinoid receptor sites in the brain while promoting cannabinoid binding in others. As a result, terpenes are believed to affect many aspects of how the brain takes in THC or CBD, while offering various therapeutic benefits of their own. This synergy of effects is known as the “entourage effect”.
The most common Cannabis terpenes are:
Effects: Alertness, memory retention, counteracts some THC effects
Medical Value: Asthma, antiseptic
Aroma: Musky, cloves, earthy, herbal with notes of citrus and tropical fruit
Effects: Sedating “couchlock effect, relaxing
Medical Value: Antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic; good for muscle tension, sleeplessness, pain, inflammation, depression
Effects: Elevated mood, stress relief
Medical Value: Antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, dissolves gallstones, mood-enhancer; may treat gastrointestinal complications, heartburn, depression
Aroma: Pepper, spicy, woody, cloves
Effects: No detectable physical effects
Medical Value: Gastroprotective, anti-inflammatory; good for arthritis, ulcers, autoimmune disorders, and other gastrointestinal complications
Aroma: Floral, citrus, candy
Effects: Anxiety relief and sedation
Medical Value: Anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, anti-acne