The cannabis plant is indigenous to Asia and the earliest records of human use stretch back to around 8000 BCE. While our ancestors were initially interested in the plant’s nutritious seeds and useful fibers, resin containing the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis (THC) may have stuck to these seeds and to the pickers’ fingers and had a psychoactive effect after consumption. Early humans realized the benefits of this resin and began harvesting it for medicinal and psychoactive purposes.
Sativa, Indica & Hybrid
Cannabis is a plant. Like any plant, it comes in different strains (varieties) and each strain has its own flavor/smell profile and effects. The three main groups are sativa, indica, and hybrid.
Sativas are mentally stimulating and good for daytime use. Their euphoric effects make them useful for treating depression. In general, sativas maintain functionality while expanding self awareness. Many people use sativa strains to help them with creative endeavors.
Indicas provide more of a “body high”. Patients suffering from insomnia, PTSD or cancer find relief with indica strains due to their tendency to stimulate appetite and provide serious relaxation along with opiate-like pain relief.
Hybrids are a cross between an indica and a sativa. They have some characteristics of each plant.
A useful way to remember the differences in medicinal effects between Sativa and Indica types of Cannabis are the phrases “Sunny Sativa” and “In the couch Indica”.
Do I Have to Smoke?
No. While smoking is an effective way of delivering cannabis medicine there are many other methods including but not limited to capsules, tinctures, infused foods (edibles), and topical lotions (great for arthritis/pain/skin problems). There are also vaporizers which heat either cannabis extracts or the flower (the bud) itself creating a medicated vapor that is easy on the lungs.
THC vs CBD
The active ingredient in most cannabis is THC or tetrahydracannabinol. THC is in a family of compounds known as cannabinoids which are closely related to pain relieving molecules in our own bodies. This relationship is what makes THC an effective medicine because it mimics what your body already does to help itself with various symptoms. THC is a clinically proven sleep aid and pain killer and can reduce vomiting and nausea, suppress muscle spasms, and stimulate appetite. It also releases dopamine in the brain resulting in euphoria for the user. This side effect is what makes the user feel “high”.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is another cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBD is nonpsychoactive (it won’t make you feel “high”). Like THC, CBD works with systems your body already has in place to provide relief for various symptoms. However, CBD’s effects are more wide ranging. It has been known to help with pain relief, killing or slowing bacterial growth, reducing blood sugar levels, reducing vomiting/nausea, reducing seizures/convulsions, reducing inflammation, reducing risk of arterial blockage, inhibiting cancer/tumor cell growth, treating psoriasis, managing psychosis, suppressing muscle spasms, reducing anxiety, promoting bone growth, modulating immune fluctuations, reducing intestinal contractions, and protecting nervous system degeneration.