Cannabis comes in many different forms, identified as strains. Each strain causes a different effect for the user. In some cases, the effect is subtle but in other cases, the effect is much more obvious. Each strain has a name, and the name doesn’t always match a description of how the strain makes you feel. It can be overwhelming to enter a dispensary and see all the menu options. How do I choose which strain to try? Will this particular strain suit my needs? And what’s the story behind how cannabis strains get their names? These are all common questions among cannabis users, especially those who are new to medical marijuana and may be visiting their local dispensary for the first time.
What Are the Different Marijuana Types?
There are three main types of cannabis plants that are each identified further by multiple strains which are discussed in more detail below. To newer users, the most important thing to know is that each type causes different effects, comes from a distinct plant origin, and has a unique appearance.
The effects of using this type of marijuana include strong feelings of relaxation which occur immediately after smoking or vaping. Because of the intense physical high this type provides, it is good for many medical conditions such as muscle spasms, pain, anxiety, and insomnia. The effects of Indica strains are achieved through varying amounts of THC, CBD, and terpenes.
The appearance of the Indica plant is short and bushy. It grows well indoors and once harvested it has a pungent, strong odor. When indica marijuana is smoked, the taste of the flower is described as floral and fruity.
Cannabis sativa is known for its uplifting effects, which is totally different than the effects of using cannabis Indica. The high achieved is different too. Where Indica’s high is physical and sedative, the high experienced from Sativa is more of a “head high” meaning you feel it more in your brain. Sativa is best for medical conditions such as ADHD, anorexia, and depression. This type of marijuana is not recommended to help with anxiety due to its stimulating qualities.
The appearance of the Sativa plant is narrow and tall. Its leaves are loosely packed, which yields less bud than the Indica plant. Sativa plants grow best outdoors due to their height. Sativa flowers have a sweet, floral, and even fruity aroma. When smoked, the taste of the flower is described as “earthy.”
As its name suggests, hybrid cannabis combines both Indica and Sativa qualities to provide the best of both worlds. The effects of hybrid cannabis depend on the levels of THC and CBD that the particular variety contains.
Growing hybrid cannabis has become an art. Imagine being able to take certain properties from two different types to create a specialized strain that is perfectly unique for your needs? That’s what hybrid cannabis is all about.
How Do I Choose the Right Strain for Me?
When it comes to choosing the right strain for yourself, most would say it can be a bit of trial and error. Using a strain library helps narrow down many strains into a handful of strains that may be suitable for your needs. Start with selecting a marijuana type first — Indica or Sativa, then choose a strain that is indicated for some of the ailments you are experiencing.
Popular Marijuana Strain Names and What to Expect
Here are what some would consider the top 16 best strains of all time (in alphabetical order) and what to expect with their use.
This strain, as you might have guessed, comes from Acapulco, Mexico. Acapulco Gold has quickly become a very well-known strain. Its ability to reduce fatigue, lower stress and pain, act as an anti-nausea and provide a euphoric effect that is energizing, appeals to many.
This strain originated near the Afghan-Pakistan border in the Hindu Kush mountain area. Afghan Kush is great for cancer patients who may be experiencing anorexia. This strain acts as an appetite stimulant as well as a pain reliever. It’s also very relaxing and can induce sleep in those suffering from insomnia.
This strain is good for those who can’t afford to lie down and take a nap but need relief from inflammation and/or pain. Blue dream is soothing, boosts your mood, and provides a feeling of euphoria, all while being non-sedative.
Bubba Kush is stress- and pain-relieving as well as sedative. This strain will help you get the sleep you need while relaxing you in the process.
Fruity Pebbles is also known as Fruity Pebbles OG or FPOG. This strain is known for its relaxation effects, which in turn, is great for stress relief. Most people love the feelings of euphoria, anti-nausea, and the way it can stimulate the appetite.
Girl Scout Cookie
Best known for its ability to treat chronic conditions such as chronic pain and nausea. Girl Scout cookie strain offers the effects of euphoria and extreme relaxation.
Golden goat is capable of lifting your mood and boosting your creativity. It also reduces fatigue and helps melt your stresses away.
This strain is known for its extremely relaxing properties that help induce sleep and improve feelings of high-level stress. It also holds appetite-stimulating properties, great for those suffering from anorexia.
This strain may be the absolute favorite among those who suffer from chronic pain. The strain LA Confidential is widely recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties that do wonders in helping reduce feelings of pain. It also has the added benefit of inducing sleep so you can relax and catch up on that missed sleep time that occurred while your pain was not controlled.
This strain is great for those times when you need to be productive and creative. Maui Wowie can help you relax and experience less fatigue while keeping you alert and ready to get work done.
This strain is often looked to as one that helps with feelings of depression. It helps reduce stress and pain while boosting your mood. It also helps prevent insomnia which is often linked to depression.
Much to everyone’s surprise, not only is this strain connected to the 2008 movie “Pineapple Express,” but it also smells like sweet pineapple. Pineapple Express is known to give you an energetic buzz vs. a zoned-out one and it is a mood booster as well as a stress reliever.
If you are looking for a strain that makes you feel happy, relaxed, and sleepy, then Purple Kush will do the trick. Often people suffering from muscle spasms find this strain to be effective in stopping the spasms and reducing pain associated with the rigidity.
Psychonaught, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Super Silver Haze
This is an excellent strain for stress relief. Super silver haze is an energetic strain that possesses qualities of euphoria and reduces feelings of nausea.
This strain may be the most energizing and can provide a burst of productivity while reducing stress and relaxing your mind. Sour diesel also can boost your mood and relieve pain.
Lenny Montana, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This strain helps you stay alert and offers relief for feelings of depression. When you need to stay energized, pain-free and calm, White Widow is a strain to consider.
What Marijuana Strain is Best for Me?
Still unsure which strain type is best for your specific needs? Don’t worry! There’s a tool for that! Just head on over to our Marijuana Strain Quiz and answer a few questions to discover the right type of strain we suggest for the effects your looking tor.
Also, keep in mind that describing cannabis strains as being indica, sativa, or hybrid only tells part of the story. We now know there are over 700 strains of cannabis. Growers have been crossbreeding cannabis plants to develop entirely new strains with their own specific characteristics.
One characteristic to consider is the amount of THC content. And, with all of the recent hybridization and crossbreeding, it’s nearly impossible to know the THC level with traditional methods, which include things like its height, branching, or leaf appearance. The only way to know the chemical composition of a cannabis-derived product today is to analyze it in a biochemical test.
This biochemical test, or assay, can detect a number of other compounds within the plant, including:
However, not all products on the market indicate the levels of these other compounds in their packaging, and the only available measure is the amount of THC.
With this in mind, it seems like strain classification is more complicated than we thought! Knowing the composition, physiological and physical effects of cannabis plants can help us choose the right products for our needs, but it seems researchers still need to perform more studies before we can fully understand the complexities of this amazing plant!
I’m a kid at heart disguised as a cannabis researcher and business owner. I’ve always enjoyed providing insight in the form of reviews (anime, video games, etc.) So, when the cannabis industry took off, it sparked my interest in researching, reviewing, and chronicling all things within. When I’m not researching, I’m spending time with my family, riding my motorcycle, and finding new entrepreneurial pursuits.