How to Choose a Medicinal Cannabis Strain
Medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, refers to cannabis when it is used to treat or alleviate a discomfort or condition, and not for recreational or spiritual purposes. Any type of cannabis that contains an effective amount of cannabinoids can be considered medicinal cannabis when used for this purpose.
Choosing medical cannabis (also known as medical marijuana) can be a very simple decision. Choosing the strain can be more complicated. Many patients and many of our customers had never grown or tried cannabis before they discovered it as a medicine.
Even for people who have, it’s not that easy. While any type of cannabis can be medicinal or recreational, knowing what works for recreational and social purposes does not mean knowing the best strain of cannabis for different medical needs.
What is medical cannabis prescribed for?
In the Netherlands, which have had a medical cannabis program since 2003, cannabis is prescribed for the following symptoms (among others):
- Muscle spasms and cramps from multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries
- Nausea, decreased appetite, weight loss, and weakness from cancer or AIDS
- Nausea and vomiting as a result of medication, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy for cancer, hepatitis C, HIV, or AIDS
- Chronic pain, especially if it’s related to the nervous system or caused by nerve damage
- Therapy-resistant glaucoma
- Tourett’s syndrome
In the rest of Europe, many countries now have a medical cannabis program. These range from allowing products containing cannabinoids (like Sativex) to being able to get cannabis flowers on prescription. In the latter case, cannabis can be prescribed for people who suffer from:
Some countries, such as Germany, do not limit the conditions under which medicinal cannabis can be prescribed. Cannabis offers numerous other medicinal benefits, and research in this area continues to expand.
Is Indica or Sativa Best for Medicinal Use?
If you are wondering, how do I choose a medicinal cannabis strain? It is useful to have a basic understanding of the differences between Indica strains and Sativa strains in terms of their medicinal uses.
As a very simple guide, here are the most common medicinal uses for indica and sativa cannabis:
Indica dominant cannabis is commonly used medicinally for:
- Sedative, “stoned” feeling
- Feeling centered in the body that relaxes as muscle tension decreases
- Muscle spasms and tremors (for example caused by multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease)
- chronic pain
- arthritic and rheumatic stiffness and swelling
- Insomnia, anxiety, and related disorders
Our five best indica cannabis strains are:
- Master Kush (90-100% Indica) – normal seeds; feminized seeds; automatic seeds
- Shiva Skunk (85% Indica) – normal seeds; feminized seeds; automatic seeds
- Big Bud (85% Indica) – normal seeds; feminized seeds; automatic seeds
- Sensi Skunk (80% Indica) – normal seeds; feminized seeds; automatic seeds
- Super Skunk (80% Indica) – normal seeds; feminized seeds; automatic seeds
Sativa-dominant cannabis is commonly used medicinally for:
- cerebral, energetic “high” effect in both mind and body
- Treating nausea (such as with chemotherapy or HIV / AIDS drugs)
- Appetite stimulation
- Migraine headache
- chronic pain and related symptoms
Our five best sativa cannabis strains are:
- Jamaican Pearl (85% Sativa) – normal seeds; feminized seeds
- Michka (80% Sativa) – normal seeds; feminized seeds
- Northern Lights 5 x Haze (70% Sativa) – normal seeds; feminized seeds
- White Diesel Haze (70% Sativa) – automatic seeds
- X Haze (60% Sativa) – feminized seeds
Can hybrid cannabis be used medicinally?
When Indica is crossed with Sativa, the result is a hybrid (or “crossed”) cannabis strain. Most of the commercially available cannabis seed strains are hybrids. Strictly speaking, the above examples are also hybrids. However, when the composition of the strain strongly favors one cannabis strain over the other, they are simply described as indica or sativa (or indica-dominant and sativa-dominant).
Balanced hybrids display characteristics of both types of cannabis. This can be beneficial, for example, if medicinal cannabis has been prescribed for chronic pain relief, for which both indica and sativa strains are suitable. Adding sativa genes to an indica strain can improve mental clarity and decrease the sedative effects. The introduction of indica to sativa strains can reduce the tendency of pure sativas to occasionally stimulate anxiety.
The entourage effect
It was previously believed that the different medicinal effects of indica and sativa strains were determined by the levels of the two most famous cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It has been thought that indica strains contain more CBD (cannabidiol) and less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Sativa strains have been thought to have the opposite, higher amounts of THC and less CBD.
Both cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which acts as a kind of “caretaker” for many body functions. The ECS contains cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the brain and body. This is why cannabis has so many different medicinal uses.
In recent years, new research has shown that with large sample sizes from indica and sativa strains, THC and CBD levels are roughly the same. However, the same study showed that the levels of terpenes and terpenoids (the elements responsible for smell and taste, among other things) vary from indica to sativa strains. Terpenes are also believed to affect the types of effects cannabis can have, from calming to stimulating.
Cannabinoids and terpenes together form a whole that is greater than the sum of their parts. This synergy is known as the entourage effect. Research into the entourage effect is still at an early stage. A 2019 study suggests that terpenes and terpenoids are likely to affect the brain pathways involved in the effects of cannabis, or possibly affect the metabolism of THC.
Is THC or CBD Better for Medical Cannabis Use?
While the effects of their levels in indica and sativa strains are still questionable, the fact is that these two cannabinoids have very different effects. Often the psychedelic aspect is most important to medicinal users. THC is largely a psychoactive substance that provides the mind-altering effects that cannabis has been both lauded and denounced for. CBD is more effective on the body and provides relaxation. CBD also mediates the effects of THC and counteracts possible undesirable effects such as anxiety.
With the popularity of cannabis as a medicine, so too does the number of patients who prefer to consume their medicine with little to no psychoactive effects. Sensi Seeds responded to this demand by introducing several strains that are high in CBD and low in THC.
Our top CBD strains are:
- Skunk Dream CBD (THC / CBD – 26: 1)
- Blacklight CBD (THC / CBD – 1: 1)
- Himalayan CBD (THC / CBD – 1: 2)
- Alpine Delight (THC / CBD – 1:30)
- Afghan Pearl (THC / CBD – 1: 1)
Was cannabis the first medicine?
Cannabis is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, medicines known to man. The oldest written reference to this is found in a Chinese medical text from 200-300 BC. It is claimed that the text, and with it the established medicinal uses of cannabis, date back to 2800 BC. Go back. This is based on when the alleged author, Emperor Shen Nong, reportedly ruled China.
Closer examination shows that he was a semi-mythical figure. It is more likely that the text was the work of a group of scholars who wanted to further its work by giving it a divine and ancient ancestry.
Since that discovery, cannabis has been researched as a medicine by almost every civilization around the world, and its potential benefits for humanity continue to evolve.
Ask your doctor first
Sensi Seeds is not a medical practice (as you have probably noticed). We cannot and cannot give medical advice. We have had all articles on our blog checked for accuracy by a qualified MD and update them regularly.
However, the information provided on this website is of interest only and should not be viewed as a diagnosis or prescription or in any way a substitute for a qualified medical practitioner.
It is also important to remember that the subjective experience of medicinal use of cannabis is different for each person, just as each person’s physiological makeup is slightly different.
Sensi Seeds strains offer medical professionals a wide variety of choices to help them choose the best cannabis strains for their needs. Our unparalleled collection of strains was chosen by the Dutch government as the basis for their medical cannabis program and was developed by the late Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, described as “the most comprehensive cannabis gene bank in the world”.
Please leave your feedback
Did one of our strains really help you? Do you think there should be a (legal) difference between medicinal and recreational cannabis use? Are there any medicinal uses of cannabis that you would like to see on the blog? Let us know in the comments below.
This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always contact your doctor or other licensed health care practitioner. Do not hesitate to seek medical advice or to ignore medical advice because you have read something on this website.