There are over 1000 different strains of cannabis that have evolved over that last several decades with constant new developments thanks to the wonderful breeders trying to increase the quality and targeting specific issues someone may have. These strains are commonly divided into 3 main categories: Sativa, Indica and Hybrids. It is important for someone using cannabis for medical purposes to know the difference between them to better treat or help with symptoms of specific ailments or conditions.
Let’s start with Cannabis Sativa. Sativa strains generally originate in the equatorial regions for example: Thailand, Southern India, Jamaica and Mexico to name a few. The Sativa plants grow to be quite large in size, about 8-15 feet, and they require more light and do take longer to grow and mature compared to the Indica plant. Commonly the colour of the plant are a lighter shade of green, with buds growing along the length of the branches. Typically the buds weigh less than the Indica due to lower density, and normally take anywhere from 60-90 days to fully flower. The leaves on the Sativa plant are long and thin and contain lower CBD and higher THC amounts. Sativas are know to give the feelings of being “High” or having a head high. It is considered to give increased energy, productivity, and alertness. Sativas are helpful with treating Anxiety and Depression, Chronic pain, ADHD, HIV/AIDS, Glaucoma, Alzheimer’s Disease, Mood swings, Stress Relief, Concentration, Creativity and increases Serotonin. Typically a Sativa is consumed during the day.
Next let’s talk about Cannabis Indica. Most varieties or strains of Indica come from Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Tibet, Nepal and so on. Indica plants are smaller in size, about 2-6 feet in height and bush like. The leaves are wide and thick and contain higher CBD and lower THC that the Sativa. The buds are dense and heavily fragrant, growing in clusters around the nodes of the stems and branches with short spaces in between clusters. The Indica plant is deeper in colour and typically takes 45-60 days to fully flower which is much sooner than the Sativa. The Indica strain is know for the feeling of being “Stoned” or giving a full body high, which is why this strain is considered a night time Cannabis. This strain helps with treatments of Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Sleep Apnea, Parkinson’s, Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, PMS, Epilepsy, Inflammation, Anxiety disorders including OCD, PTSD and Panic Disorders, Insomnia, Nausea, Physical and Mental pain, and Headaches. It increases relaxation and dopamine making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep and help increases appetite.
Hybrid plants are a combination of two different strains of cannabis that theoretically possess the most beneficial medical properties of both strains. Normally breeders cross two strains in an attempt to deliver the best possible benefits to specific needs. Breeders can choose to combine Indica and Sativa together, or two Indicas and 2 Sativas together. When a strain displayed the name Indica Dominant or Sativa Dominant, it means the Hybrid contains contains more of one parents traits than the other. The look and traits of the plant are all dependant on the strains combined. Often the strains are labeled with a sativa/indica ratio like 60/40 Sat/Ind, other times only a percentage eg. 70% Indica and 80% Sativa. Sativa Dominant Hybrids give a cerebral high with relaxing body effects along with the medical and mental relief. Even Hybrids are the ideal strain for people seeking a perfect blend between body and head high. Indica Dominant Hybrid provide a full body pain relief with relaxing head high. Recommended for night time to sleep or day time for minor pain. It is a great choice for people suffering from autoimmune diseases and depression.
Cannabis Ruderalis is another species of cannabis whose potential benefits have only begun to be explored. This species of cannabis grows wild in parts of Eastern Europe and Russia, so it is accustomed to colder weather. Ruderalis plants contain lower percentages of THC, but are frequently cross-bred with Sativa strains to produce plants that grow short like Ruderalis, and can bear the weather of outdoor grows up north where Sativa strains can not usually flourish. These Hybrids are known as auto-flowering strains, because of the short flowering period that Ruderalis carries with it 2-3 weeks after germination. The strains are typically more resistant to insect infestation and disease pressures, and are thought to have high CBD content. The whole life span of these plants can be as short as 7 weeks long, and are relatively simple to grow, which has made them more popular among home growers.