Until quite recently, the most thoroughly scientifically investigated organic compound housed in the cannabis plant has been tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the plant’s approximately 80 cannabinoids. Because of the way THC engages with our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems and mood, it produces the psychoactive effect that has made cannabis the source for many a person’s recreational enjoyment and the target of a century-long smear campaign in the United States.
Back when cannabis was illegal everywhere, the way to choose high-quality flower in the black market was entirely contingent on a high THC content. This mentality has transcended prohibition and permeated much of pot culture. Although it has been the norm for so long, it’s important to consider the other components of the cannabis plant and the way that the synergy between those compounds may affect your mood.
Cannabis is so much more than just THC. For example, the cannabis consumed for recreational and medical purposes has been classified into three groups: sativa, indica, and hybrid. Sativas are known for producing a highly energizing effect, indicas a more sedating one, and hybrids the best of both worlds. Of course, this is a bit of an oversimplification, but knowing a strain’s reputation based on where it fits within those groups can give shoppers a sense of what to expect.
How Cannabis Compounds Relate to Mood
A more scientific approach involves taking a closer look into cannabis’ other compounds, and scientists have become increasingly interested in studying cannabinoids besides THC. Research into cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, has exploded in recent years given that cannabinoid’s incredible therapeutic potential to treat gastrointestinal disorders, neurological disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, addiction, and cancer. Strains with elevated levels of CBD like Charlotte’s Web typically elicit a less intense high since CBD tempers THC’s psychotropic effect. But because THC has received the lion’s share of attention in the cannabis world, it is difficult to find strains with high CBD, low THC contents.
Interest in cannabinol (CBN), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid synthesized by the oxidation of THC, has also risen because of its sedative effect and consequential efficacy in treating sleep disorders. Like with CBD rich strains, cannabis products containing higher levels of CBN indicate a lower level of THC. This is because CBN is created from degraded THC.
The longer cannabis is left to the devices of air and light, the lower its potency and the more CBN it will produce
While cannabinoids are the main attraction, the cannabis plant also houses fragrant compounds called terpenes. The content of these chemical substances is what gives each cannabis flower its unique scent and taste. They are also responsible for triggering a range of therapeutic effects that can directly or indirectly affect your high. For example, the terpene myrcene is associated with enhancing the potency of THC because of the way it eases the permeability of the blood brain barrier, making it easier for THC to travel to the brain.
As you shop for cannabis, take a moment to assess your mood, and pay attention to the information on the product’s label. A high THC content cannabis product is not necessarily going to give you the results you want depending on how you’re feeling when you consume it.
When you’re feeling Anxious
High THC strains are not the best option for those suffering from anxiety or prone to panic attacks. While THC in small doses can be beneficial, a whole lot of THC at once can adversely affect the endocannabinoid system, causing stress and anxiety.
The magic cannabinoid to look for if you’re trying to relax is CBD. CBD is thought to regulate the psychoactive potency of THC, and the synergy between the two cannabinoids can produce a healing high rather than a scary one. Strains to consider include Charlotte’s Web, Cannatonic, ACDC, Harlequin, and Sour Tsunami.
When You Need and Energy Boost
Sativas are known for their energizing effect and typically contain higher rates of THC. These strains tend to promote creativity and are sometimes taken in the morning the way that someone may drink a cup of coffee to prepare for the day.
Strains to consider for an energy boost include Sour Diesel, Casey Jones, Golden Goat, and Lemon Skunk. These strains have a high THC content, so it’s important to remember that they run the risk of instigating a minor or major panic attack.
When You’re in a Depressed Mood
Remaining in a prolonged depressive state can be a severely debilitating experience. Many people suffering from depression use cannabis to medicate, and for good reason. Whole plant cannabis interacts with our endocannabinoid systems in a way that promotes physical and mental homeostasis in our bodies.
When it comes to treating depression, THC content plays an important role in the outcome. Low to moderate doses of THC can be effective at treating depression while elevated THC doses can exacerbate depression’s symptoms. Strains with high doses of CBD, on the other hand, show promise in treating depression and anxiety.
When You’re looking for Calm
Indica strains have the reputation for inducing sleepiness in their consumers. In addition to sampling indica strains, you may want to find out a strain’s CBN content if that information is available.
Desired Effect: Illeviate Pain
If you’re suffering from pain—chronic or short term—that annoying and sometimes debilitating feeling is going to shape your mood. Short term pain will understandably increase feelings of irritability and frustration. Chronic pain can lead to more devastating symptoms on top of the pain itself including insomnia, decreased appetite, anxiety, and depression.
Different strains are going to produce different results on different days given a consumer’s differing moods. Be prepared to experiment with more than one cannabis strain as you pursue the one that meets your specific needs.