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Saturday May 30, 2015

By Abby Hutmacher

420 Culture

Colorado is home to over 600 dispensaries, where you can find the newest and most popular marijuana strains lining the shelves. Though it may be tempting to go for designer strains or typical budtender recommendations, we recommend carefully considering the marijuana experience you hope to have and base your choice of strain accordingly.

To start, look at the strains as if they are on a spectrum. On one side, there are Indica strains which tend to be very relaxing and soporific. On the other end, there are Sativas which increase energy and alertness. Depending on your desired experience, you can choose your strain based on where it falls between the two (which is often indicated in the form of a percentage).

Of course, it isn't really that simple. Because marijuana contains more than 80 known cannabinoids that have been shown to affect different parts of the brain and body, various strains (which contain different concentrations of cannabinoids) can induce different results. In order to plan the best marijuana experience possible, you should understand as much as possible how each strain impacts you personally.

The Best Marijuana Strains for Energy

Generally speaking, sativa strains tend to contain higher levels of THC, or the primary psychoactive component in marijuana. Sativa-dominant strains are much more likely to promote energy and creative thinking.

Sativa strains are especially popular for parties or social gatherings because they tend to evoke conversation. It is important to note, however, that high doses of many sativas, especially those with THC levels over 18 percent, may promote anxiety or paranoia in some individuals.

Some of the most popular marijuana strains for energy include Sour Diesel, known for its fast-acting cerebral high and tangy, diesel fuel flavor; Casey Jones noted for its uplifting, creative effects and sweet, earthy flavor; Golden Goat for its unbeatable tropical flavor and uplifting body high; and (my personal favorite) Lemon Skunk, known for its sociable high and sweet, tangy flavor.

The Best Marijuana Strains for Sleep

There are multiple factors that contribute to the soporific, or sleep-inducing, effect of marijuana. One of which is how Indica-dominant the particular strain is. Strains that favor Indica characteristics will therefore cause a much more predictable sleepy sensation which can be used to treat insomnia and sleep apnea.

Another factor to consider when searching for the best strains for sleep is the presence of the cannabinoid, cannabinol (CBN). CBN, known for promoting sleep, is a product of cannabis degeneration and can therefore be created by allowing your favorite strain to dry out a bit in the sun. This will cause the THCa (which is usually converted to THC with heat) to transform into CBNa which will transform into CBN when it becomes heated.

Lab tests can help determine if a product contains CBN and to which degree. Using a process known as High Performance Liquid Chromatography, licensed testing facilities can determine exactly how much of each cannabinoid is present in a product and will often indicate the results online.

To find the best marijuana strains for sleep, you could therefore consult the most recent lab tests or rely on traditional go-to strains for sleep like Bubba Kush which features a sweet, earthy flavor and a powerful head and body high; BC God Bud which features a sweet yet musky flavor and a slow-starting, long-lasting body high and head buzz; White Rhino, known for its sweet flavor, high potency and intense high; and Granddaddy Purple, popular for its powerful full-body high and sweet, fruity flavor.

The Best Marijuana Strains for Pain Management

There are many components in marijuana that contribute to its analgesic effects. THC, for example, has been shown to significantly reduce pain in cancer patients by binding with pain-sensing receptors in the body.

But it isn't just THC that promotes pain management. Another exciting cannabinoid, CBD, has also been shown to reduce pain and inflammation without causing the characteristic "high" produced by THC. This cannabinoid works in conjunction with THC and other cannabinoids to relieve pain and restore tissue.

Though some might prefer CBD-only products such as pills or patches in order to avoid an unwanted "high", the best analgesic effects will typically come from strains that contain a variety of pain-relieving cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN and CBG) including White Widow which is known for its energetic, creative high and earthy flavor; Northern Lights for its sweet flavor and relaxing body high; Chemdawg for its intense head and body high and distinct diesel fuel flavor; and Godberry for its sweet flavor and immediate, long-lasting pain relief.

The Best Marijuana Strains for Anxiety

Researchers have confirmed that low doses of THC can lower anxiety levels in mice models by binding with CB1 receptors in the amygdala, or the part of the brain responsible for feelings of stress and anxiety.

Chronic stress or trauma has been shown to reduce natural endocannabinoid production which may contribute to prolonged feelings of anxiety. According to one study, THC may reduce anxiety by stimulating CB1 receptors in the amygdala and supplementing phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids derived from plants) for the missing endocannabinoids.

Taken in higher doses, however, THC seems to have the opposite effect. Instead of reducing anxiety, high levels of THC might actually make matters worse by reducing the efficiency of cannabinoid receptors. Those who wish to treat (or avoid) anxiety during their marijuana experience should choose strains with low THC levels and higher CBD levels, which has been shown to both reduce anxiety and counter the effects of THC.

For marijuana strains that treat anxiety, look for strains like White Fire Alien OG, a lemony Indica hybrid known to relieve pain, stress and anxiety; Stardawg, a pine and diesel fuel-flavored hybrid that is both uplifting and euphoric; Juliet, a fruity Sativa-dominant hybrid that combats social phobia; and 303 OG, a spicy strain that both combats anxiety and promotes socialization and creativity.

Whether you want to relieve pain or lose weight, there is a marijuana strain that can help you. Check lab tests and consult your budtender to find the best options and create the best experience possible.

What do you look for in an ideal marijuana strain? Tell us about it here or on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Chuck Grimmett (license)


Abby Hutmacher Abby Hutmacher

Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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