Cannabis Strains 101: Sativa/Indica vs Terpene Profiles

Learn how to buy cannabis depending on the effects it produces. Choosing the perfect cannabis strain(s) can be tricky depending on the desired outcome. The average cannabis consumer of today will tell you to choose between sativa and indica, but is that the best way to decide?

Asking for "Sativa to keep going" and "Indica for couch-lock" as an estimate on how it will make you feel is not very precise or accurate, at all. Luckily there is a more accurate method of defining the effects of each product besides the assumed "Indica vs Sativa", called Terpenes.

What is Sativa & Indica?

Before science took a keen interest into cannabis, defining the effects of the plant was left to farmers and consumers. This (lack of a) naming system resulted in the common nicknames (Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid) which can correlate to the leaf structure, not actual effects.

  • Sativa: Often referred to as "Energizing & Uplifting" after consumption; feels more like a mental stimuli.
  • Indica: Often described as inducing a "couch-lock" effect that provides a full body relaxation
  • Hybrid: Said to have qualities of both Indica's and Sativa's.
This cannabis taxonomy is dated and often times quite misleading at time of purchase.

What are Terpenes?

By definition, terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds which are produced by a variety of plants and insects. They are the chemicals found in the essential oils of plants that give them a unique aroma, and maybe more.

Today, terpenes (or terpoinoids, in cannabis) are credited with the aromas and associated effects of the cannabis you consume. These terpenes are similar to those found in many other naturally occurring products and the cannabis industry is already getting creative with how to use them.

Here are the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis

  • Pinene [pi-nene] - As the name suggests, it can be found in pine needs, orange peels, and rosemary. Smoking or vaping a strain rich in pinene it's said to make you feel alert and retain memory.
  • Myrcene [my-cene] - This earthy terpene is found in clove, citrus, lemon grass, and especially mango. This is why people claim eating a mango before you consume will extend your high. Benefits of myrcene are said to be for pain, inflammation, and sedation/sleeping.
  • Linalool [lin-al-o-ol] - Floral and sweet smelling terpene which is also found in lavendar. One of the most exciting benefits is said to be for anxeity, depression and stress.
  • Limonene [lim-o-nene] - Found in juniper, peppermint, and yes, also citrus. Limonene is known for giving it users an energizing feel while also counter acting anxiety and depression.
  • Caryophyllene [car-y-o-phyl-lene] - Quite the spicy terpene, this aroma is also found in hops, basil, and also gives black pepper it's distinctive smell. Often times used for topicals due to it's anti-inflammatory properties.
If you are a cannabis consumer, I am sure that you see some effects that you can relate to

How to Find the Best Cannabis Strains [for you]

When it comes to choosing the best cannabis for you there are a number of factors to consider besides strain name and THC percentage. Pay attention to the terpene's in the products you enjoy most, this will help you refine your preference as you test each one.

Asking for a Sativa or Indica will lead the bud tender to ask more questions to fully understand how you are using cannabis. These additional answers will give insight towards a better pairing of your products and needs.

Today, the bud tenders at your favorite dispensaries are being trained on Terpenes and how they influence aroma and the effect of your cannabis beyond THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Even released their cannabis guide and complete website redesign to reflect these findings.

Terpene production will vary from an indoor grow to outdoor even with the same genetic/strain says Amber Wise, Scientific Director of Medicine Creek Analytics "you can end up with different terpene profiles at the end because temperature, growing medium, nutrients, sunlight, all kinds of things affect the terpene profile of plants"

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