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Cannabis Basics Sativa vs Indica and why terpenes matters!

Sativas

Typically thought to be energizing, sativas originally grew in warm, humid climates like yes like hear in Thailand, growing long and lanky so they can dry out and not absorb so much humidity. Their warm climate also means they can take a long time to grow and flower, or produce buds, because the weather won’t get cold and rainy at the end of the growing season.


Indicas

Typically said to be relaxing, indicas originally grew in cold, northern climates. They grew short and dense because of their environment, and their growing life cycle is shorter so they can get harvested before the cold and wet of fall and winter set in.


Hemp

As a side note, what we call “hemp” refers to the industrial, non-intoxicating varieties of cannabis harvested primarily for fiber, seeds, CBD, and other novel cannabinoids. Hemp’s fiber can be used to make materials and textiles, its seeds can be eaten, and CBD and other novel cannabinoids can be extracted from it under the current Thai Law (8/9/2022) extracts are only allow when containing less then 0.2% THC.



Indica, sativa, and hybrid vs. cannabinoids and terpenes

Weed is incredibly nuanced. Each strain has its own chemical profile that will interact differently with each person’s body chemistry—the same strain could affect you and your smoking buddy completely differently.


As weed nerds here at Bangkok Bud's, we prefer the more complex and specific model of determining a strain’s effects by looking at its mix of cannabinoids and terpenes (more below). But the indica/sativa/hybrid model is a basic, quick and easy way to get a general sense of how a strain will hit you. Just know that it isn’t exact.


Bangkok Bud's own strain database uses the cannabinoid and terpene model, compiling the chemical profiles of our strains using data from testing labs all over the country.

This method is a little more complex, but don’t let data scare you—once you find a Strain you like, you can rate your cannabis experience and find a strain that’s best for you.


How to use the indica, sativa, hybrid method

Had a long day and want to chill out? Need to do some spring cleaning or get a project done? Talking to your local budtender, they will tell you:

  • Indicas are calm and relaxing, great for chilling out at the end of the night, watching a movie or listening to music, taking a nap, or just staring at the wall.

  • Sativas are energetic and will make you productive. They’re great for physical activity, going for a hike, completing a task, cleaning, and anything that requires focus.

  • Hybrid strains offer a mix of indica- and sativa-like effects.

Broadly speaking, you’ll see a lot of consistency to the idea that indicas are relaxing and sativas are energetic. Most of the strains in the “sleepy” and “relaxed” categories are indicas, while most of the “energetic” strains are sativas.


Easy, right? Now let’s dial in that process.

Cannabinoids and terpenes

So if indica and sativa aren’t the best predictors of effects, what are?

The better way to pinpoint effects of different weed strains is to talk about their mix of cannabinoids and terpenes, or the chemical compounds in it. These compounds combine to create the entourage effect, leading to the feeling of being high.


What are cannabinoids?

The cannabis plant is composed of hundreds of chemical compounds that create unique effects, and the primary ones are cannabinoids. THC and CBD are the two most common cannabinoids and are the main drivers of cannabis’ therapeutic and recreational effects.

  • THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound that most think of when talking about weed—it’s what makes you feel high, and relieves symptoms like pain and nausea.

  • CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating compound known to alleviate anxiety, pain, inflammation, and many other medical ailments.

What are terpenes?

If you’ve ever used aromatherapy to relax or invigorate your mind and body, you understand the basics of terpenes, the aromatic compounds commonly produced by plants and fruit. They can be found in lavender flowers, oranges, hops, pepper, and of course, cannabis. Secreted by the same glands that ooze THC and CBD, terpenes are what make cannabis smell like berries, citrus, pine, fuel, etc.

There are many types of terpenes found in cannabis, but these four are the most common:

  • Myrcene

  • Caryophyllene

  • Limonene

  • Terpinolene

One question yet to be answered by research is how terpenes—and different combinations of terpenes—shape the effects of different cannabis strains. So while cannabinoids are the primary step in determining how a strain will make you feel, for example, whether you want THC or CBD in a strain, or both, terpenes add a lot to effects as well.

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