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Indica and sativa are on the way out

October 14, 2020 • 11 am

Cannabis enthusiasts have always made an effort to learn more about this unique plant and the benefits that can be derived from it. For decades, we have used terms that organize cannabis into two major categories – Indica and Sativa. Blending these strains led to the term hybrid, which refers to a plant that combines traits from both. Consumers traditionally recognized Indica marijuana plants to be sedative, relaxing and have a noticeable euphoric effect on the body, while Sativa strains were more cerebral and uplifting on the mind.

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The commercialization of cannabis has changed things quickly. Varieties are now crossbred for a host of factors including suitability for indoor growing, harvest yield, medicinal use, and recreational effects. Today cannabis strains are developed for very specific purposes.

Scientists have come to agree that classifying cannabis as Indica or Sativa is on the way out and is not diverse enough to properly categorize a plant with such a wide array of strains and effects. In fact, every marijuana plant grown today is likely to be a hybrid, as researchers continue to crossbreed and refine strains to target desired outcomes.

This has led to new systems of classification being developed to better describe the product. While Indica and Sativa were adequate designations a decade ago, the sophistication of cannabis knowledge has surpassed their usefulness as classifications in today’s market.

As the chemical profiles, strengths, and effects of cannabis become better defined, a clearer picture has emerged. The properties of cannabis work together to create an entourage effect, meaning that each component is working in sync with one another and provides a much more meaningful experience than using any of these molecules on their own. Understanding the various combinations of components provides a better indication of the product’s effects and how it should be used.

According to a study shared by the National Institutes of Health, marijuana is a complex plant with more than 400 chemical entities, including more than 110 cannabinoid compounds, some of which have opposing effects. This makes it difficult to classify cannabis by using one trait.

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The primary effects of marijuana are created by the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes which are produced in the plant’s glandular trichomes. In general, cannabinoids are responsible for psychoactive effects. Terpenes are the major contributors to the aroma and flavor, but they also interact with cannabinoids. Flavonoids also influence aroma and flavor, and may independently provide unique therapeutic effects.

The interplay between these compounds is the subject of expanding studies. Recent research funded by the University of Arizona confirmed the entourage effect. Other research has disputed the interaction, but the science is clearly in its infancy. Cannabis users attest far and wide that variations in strains produce widely diverse effects in individuals.

These compounds are also affected by the manner in which they are consumed. Cold-processing, burning, vaporizing, or consuming as edibles all contribute to the chemical interaction within our body and will result in a wide variety of reactions. Inhaling a product will provide a faster onset of effects (usually within the first 5 minutes) with a shorter overall lifetime (about 1-3 Hours) where ingesting an edible product will have a more delayed onset (1-2 hours) but a much longer lifetime in the body (6-8 hours).

Instead, cannabis is now best described by the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes present in the plant and the delivery method that is utilized to process these molecules. While the research is still young, enthusiasts have found that strains high in certain cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, THC-V, etc.) and terpenes (Myrcene, Linalool, Beta-Caryophyllene, Limonene, etc.) are consistently providing the desired effects that people are seeking.

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This is why it has never been more important for individuals to find a dispensary staff well informed in all aspects of cannabis. Properly educated consultants can assist in finding that perfect fit for each customer’s needs, especially at the beginning of the cannabis journey.

The consumer can also help. Rather than asking for Indica, providing the budtender with specific issues or goals will give them the opportunity to recommend the product that best meets those needs. A reputable dispensary will also carry high-quality products acquired from properly licensed growers, working only with verified strains.

The cannabis industry is evolving into a well-informed community united in maximizing the beneficial effects that cannabis can provide for pain management, medicinal use, or recreation. The Leaf El Paseo in Palm Desert is becoming widely known in Southern California for providing the best cannabis products and consumer knowledge. To elevate your cannabis experiences, visit The Leaf El Paseo in person, online, or by phone today.


Cannabis Trichomes – How Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids Are Made

The Entourage Effect: How Cannabis Compounds May Be Working Together

In Defense of the “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Found in Cannabis Sativa Activate the Cannabinoid Receptor 1 In Vivo

Sativa vs. Indica: What to Expect Across Cannabis Types and Strains


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