Using Medical Cannabis to Alleviate the After Effects of Concussions
by Chane Leigh
Content Updated July 27, 2020: Updates reflect new content written about relative cannabinoids and terpenes.
Sativa and indica are the terms commonly used in cannabis culture to describe different subspecies of the plant. “Do you want an indica or a sativa?” is typically the first question asked at a cannabis dispensary, and “indica” and “sativa” labels accompany cannabis flower and products at the counter. The indica vs sativa dichotomy was once the most helpful way to distinguish between different subspecies of cannabis and the psychedelic effects they produce. However, we now know that there are other compounds in cannabis, like terpenes, that are more telling of the effects of specific strains.
The French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck was the first to define cannabis sativa and cannabis indica as the two species of cannabis. Over time, the term sativa has been used in cannabis culture to refer to strains that produce a “head high” that is known for decreasing anxiety, while indica refers to cannabis that gives the user a “body high,” that can help treat pain and promote relaxation. See the table below for more information on how the categories of indica vs sativa have traditionally been used to distinguish types of cannabis.
The names sativa and indica are also used when referring to cannabis hybrids. Hybrids are strains of cannabis that have been bred from both sativas and indicas. “Sativa dominant” and “indica dominant” are terms used at most dispensaries to describe which subspecies a hybrid most resembles.
Up until recent times, cannabis users have embraced the old adage about the differing effects of indica dominant and sativa dominant cannabis strains. Indica being the type of strain that is notorious for its sedating effects while sativas are lauded for their uplifting and energizing effects. However, these classifications are more or less outdated in terms of how they provoke stimulation.
Researchers have since found that the best way to group cannabis is by way of marijuana vs hemp. Furthermore, selective breeding has driven massive genetic changes across seed types, making the majority of all cannabis strains a hybridized version of the original.
We now know that there is no difference between indicas and sativas at the molecular level. Therefore, because the categories sativa and indica do not refer to a significant chemical difference between cannabis strains, the different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes are more telling of the benefits and effects of a specific strain.
In “The Cannabis sativa Versus Cannabis indica Debate: An Interview with Ethan Russo, MD,” published in the academic journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo, MD, argues that the indica vs sativa distinction is not supported by cannabis science. Dr. Russo goes on to say that, “It is essential that future commerce allows complete and accurate cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles to be available.”
Scientists and researchers have also discovered that the importance of cannabis’ chemical composition vastly outweighs the infamous indica or sativa categorization. Cannabis obviously contains its headlining cannabinoids THC and CBD, but most people aren’t aware that there are several others that are just as useful.
Cannabis contains a fine-tuned spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes that all work synergistically to create physiological and psychoactive effects that can be used to our benefit. Different strains will possess different levels and combinations of these constituents and each one can be used therapeutically, especially when they are targeted at the micro-level.
Terpenes are a compound that plants produce. The purpose of terpenes is to act as pest deterrents because of the strong volatile smells they produce. In cannabis, users enjoy terpenes because they give each individual strain its distinct bouquet of aromatics and tastes. Not to be confused with cannabinoids, terpenes are produced in the trichomes and then are excreted in the resin of the cannabis plant. While there are currently at least 20,000 known types of terpenes that exist, there are only about a hundred found in the cannabis plant and even fewer that have actually been studied.
Studies are currently underway, mostly overseas, to intricately determine which terpenes and cannabinoids are conducive to cancer treatment and other various disabilities. These studies are incredibly valuable. While one cannabinoid or terpene might be great for one type of treatment, either could potentially hinder the progress of another. Until the US is able to tackle cannabis reform, this type of cannabis research will always be very limited under excessive and strict regulations within our borders.
When trying to choose a cannabis strain for your particular symptoms and needs, look for the reported effects of specific strains. Knowing whether a strain is an indica or a sativa is not enough information to tell how it will make you feel; it’s also important to note the potency levels of the cannabinoids CBD and THC and the terpenes in the strain. Read the tables below to better understand the known differences between the terpenes found in cannabis.
We do know is that there are 6 headlining terpenes often found in cannabis that are indeed beneficial to us. Let’s explore.
Always speak with a medical professional before attempting any of these products. Interested in learning more? Veriheal now offers thorough and informative consults with a licensed physician that can guide you through all of your concerns, and provide you with reassurance without judgment of your medical choice to pursue cannabis. Best of all, this service is available in all 50 states nationwide. Take charge of your health and contact Veriheal today!
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