Dream temple strain
Cannabis is a truly fascinating plant. Its resinous, aromatic female flower clusters produce scores of active compounds that can instantly change one’s state of mind and regulate an extensive variety of systems in the human body, especially the human brain. Furthermore, the balance of these compounds can be tweaked to accentuate or dampen these effects through selective breeding. These various breeds of cannabis are often referred to as strains.
In this post, we’ll look at what gives particular strains their superpowers and hopefully help our readers decide which strain will best serve particular medicinal needs or fit your recreational wish list.
Let’s begin by examining what it is about weed that makes it so effective at treating particular medical issues and at altering states of consciousness. Following that, we’ll be able to better appreciate why each individual strain packs its particular punch.
What’s in your weed?
So, what is it about cannabis that makes it so versatile a drug?
At least two types of compounds found in cannabis have medicinal benefits.
2 Types of Beneficial Compounds In Cannabis
The balance of these two classes of ingredients determines the particular set of effects of a strain. These categories of strains can be broken down into the following categories:
Categories of Cannabis Strains
First, let’s go over the two categories of medicinally beneficial compounds produced in cannabis. We’ll start with cannabinoids first and then discuss terpenes.
What are cannabinoids?
Back in the late 60’s when the popularity of marijuana started to ramp up due to the hippie movement, researchers began looking into what it is about marijuana, exactly, that gives it its euphoria-inducing qualities. What they discovered literally shocked the medical marijuana community.
It was a research team in Israel that discovered that compounds in cannabis interact with receptors on the surface of cells in all the major organs of the human body, especially the brain. They dubbed these compounds cannabinoids. And they labeled the overall system the human endocannabinoid system, or ECS, for short.
So what’s so shocking about that, you ask? The shocking part is that they discovered that the human body naturally produces its own cannabinoids. These were dubbed endocannabinoids, while those produced in cannabis are known as phytocannabinoids. What’s so amazing about this is that it stands to reason that the human body has co-evolved with cannabis, and that, quite likely, both types of cannabinoids are required to maintain balanced health. In other words, it’s no coincidence cannabinoids have such powerful effects on our minds and bodies.
Furthermore, this implies that depriving the human body of cannabinoids might be the cause of the drastic increase in some or even many of the variety of illnesses which are on the rise today. Researchers refer to this condition as endocannabinoid deficiency, however, it may also apply to a lack of phytocannabinoids in the diet .
Real quick history lesson for you here.
The fact of the matter is that humans have been utilizing cannabis for food since long before humans were even invented. A wide variety of animals feed on cannabis seeds and greens and have done so for eons. We’re talking hundreds of millions of years over which mammals evolved to take advantage of the power of cannabis. Furthermore, humans have been cultivating cannabis for use in food and medicine since the dawn of civilization thousands of years ago.
But that all changed for the human race when a handful of powerful politicians and businessmen decided to outlaw the plant staring back in the 1930s. But that’s another story altogether.
So that’s the quick history lesson. The point of the lesson is to illustrate the human race has gone without cannabis in their diets for only the past eight decades or so. And depriving ourselves of phytocannabinoids might be the cause of the rise in the incidence of many modern ailments.
Now back to cannabinoids and their medicinal properties.
Earlier we mentioned the human endocannabinoid system. The ECS consists of two parts — endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors on the surface of cells which interact with cannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are produced at nerve synapses in the brain. And cannabinoid receptors are found in abundance in the brain and other major organs.
There are two types of receptors — CB1 receptors which are mostly found in the brain, and CB2 receptors which are found throughout the body. Hold onto that information for a moment.
Scores of different cannabinoids are produced by cannabis. The most abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana is known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is the compound that causes people to feel euphoric. THC molecules have the exact structure required for them to bind with the CB1 receptors in the brain resulting in altered states of consciousness. (We’re not going to get into the details of how that works here.)
The second most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana is known as cannabidiol , or CBD. Although CBD does not bind with cannabinoid receptors, it does interact with them and effects both how the brain produces endocannabinoids and other neurotransmitters and how receptors react to them.
In recent years it has been discovered that CBD has the ability to modulate how CB1 receptors respond to THC. It also has the ability to mimic one of our own naturally produced endocannabinoids known as anandamide. Anandamide is responsible for modulating the production and uptake of another compound known as serotonin. Serotonin is, in turn, responsible for regulating brain activities such as stress response and moods. CBD also effects systems such as sleep cycles, immune response, pain response, and so on.
There are also scores of other lesser cannabinoids produced in cannabis which each has its own slightly different chemical structure and its own set of effects on the human brain and body.
In addition to having effects on the brain and central nervous system, cannabinoids are also closely involved in regulating the immune system and have been proven to impart powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is the major cause of pain. Reduce inflammation and you reduce pain. Inflammation is also indicated in cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease and arteriosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries.
Cannabinoids are also known to have antioxidant, antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal properties. Essentially the biochemical structure of cannabinoids allows it to latch onto molecules in germs thereby rendering them harmless.
So, let is suffice to say that the balance of cannabinoids produced in each particular strain of cannabis determines how CB1 receptors in the brain and CB2 receptors in the body respond. Some strains are very high in THC and very low in CBD. These strains affect the mind more than the body. And some strains are higher in CBD and lower in THC and affect the body more than the mind.
Just a side note: THC is considered to be a psychotropic compound. It actually changes perception of reality. CBD is often mistakenly labeled as a non- psychoactive compound, but it does affect moods and is therefore technically psychoactive.
So that’s the weird world of cannabinoids in a nutshell. Now, let’s take a look a second family of compounds produced in cannabis which are collectively known as terpenes.
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