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(Photo Credit: WikiCommons)
(Photo Credit: WikiCommons)

The plant species Cannabis sativa L. has two main sub-species, Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. Hybrids and cross-breeds of these sub-species produce varieties, also referred to as strains,that carry some characteristics of each parent.

Indica dominant strains are higher in Cannabidiol (CBD), Sativa dominant strains are higher in the THC cannabinoid. Hybrids will vary in their composition of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids, and are often referred to based upon the dominant cannabinoid ratio inherited from their lineage; indica, mostly indica, indica /sativa, mostly sativa, or pure sativa.

Strain Selection

The efficacy of cannabis is directly related to strain selection, as different strains contain varying blends of cannabinoids, therefor it is recommended that assessing the type of symptoms the patient seeks to relieve is generally the best starting point for selecting the most suitable type of medicinal cannabis for their individual condition.

It is also important to remember that just as every person’s physiological make-up is slightly different, the subjective experience of using cannabis medicinally is also different for everyone. The information offered here is intended as a basic guide and it is recommended that, if possible, anyone wishing to use cannabis as medicine should first consult a qualified physician.

Cultivators and distributors often give some of these varieties more personal names such as Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Northern Lights, Orange Patty, and others. A partial list of strains, and effects can be downloaded here, along with a tracking sheet to help determine which strains or combination of are best suited to assist with alleviating a patient’s symptoms.

Cannabis Indica

Indicas originally come from the hash producing countries of the world like Afghanistan, Morocco, and Tibet. They are short dense plants, with broad leaves, compact flower clusters and often grow a darker green. After flowering starts they mature in 6 to 8 weeks. The buds will be thick and dense, with flavors and aromas ranging from pungent skunk to sweet and fruity.

The smoke from an Indica is generally a body type effect, relaxing and laid back. Indica’s higher CBD than THC equals a much heavier, sleepy type of high. Indica plants have a heavy, stony high that is relaxing and can help different medical problems.

The effects of Indica are predominantly physical, although emotional results can occur as well – relaxing, sedating and pain-reducing. Indicas are generally best suited for later in the day and before bed use.


• Reduces pain
• Relaxes muscles
• Relieves spasms
• Reduces inflammation
• Reduces nausea
• Anti-convulsing
• Reduces seizure frequency
• Relives headaches and migraines
• Aids in sleep
• Reduces intra-ocular pressure
• Reduces anxiety and stress
• Stimulates appetite
• Expectorant

Cannabis Sativa

Sativas originate from Columbia, Mexico, Thailand and Southeast Asia. They are tall, thin plants, characterized by narrow, serrated leaves and loose spear-like flower clusters that can be extremely resinous. Sativas grow very quickly and can reach heights of 20 feet in a single season. Once flowering has begun, they can take anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to fully mature. Flavors range from earthy to sweet and fruity.

Primarily the effects of Sativas are cerebral. They tend to be more stimulating, uplifting, energizing and contribute to creativity enhancement. These benefits can be particularly helpful in regards for the psychological components of many illnesses.


• Reduces depression
• Relieves headache and migraine
• Energizes and stimulates
• Reduces awareness of pain
• Increases focus and creativity
• Reduces nausea
• Stimulates appetite
• Supports immune system
• Expectorant

Cannabis Ruderalis

Ruderalis is tentatively described as the third type of cannabis, as botanists are unsure whether it qualifies as a species in its own right. Ruderalis is an uncultivated strain native to Russia, central Europe and central Asia and is adapted to the harsher environments found in these locations. A typical Ruderalis plant is very short in height, often between 1 foot to 2.5 feet when fully grown. It produces only a few branches and has wide, fat-bladed leaves, similar to those of an Indica. Ruderalis can complete its life cycle – from being a seed to producing seeds – in just 10 weeks (though 12 to 14 weeks is more common).

Wild Ruderalis strains are nearly always low in THC and relatively high in CBD.

While pure Ruderalis strains have little value in terms of fibre or recreational use, their hardiness, auto-flowering capability and extremely fast maturation time are of great interest to cannabis breeders. Hybrids made from combining Indica and Ruderalis strains are currently proving to be some of the earliest-maturing outdoor plants available.

Ruderalis hybrids are also useful for medicinal applications in cases where the therapeutic benefits of CBD are preferred without the attendant psychoactive effects of high-THC strains.


Hybrids are the result of cross-pollination between various strains – combining different Indicas, different Sativas or a combination thereof creates hybrids. The resulting hybrid strains will grow, mature and smoke in relationship to the Indica/Sativa percentages they end up containing.

Indica dominant hybrids are good for pain relief, and the Sativa component helps with energy and activity levels.
Sativa dominant hybrids are good for simulating appetite, with Indica components helping to reduce body pain and increase relaxation.