Cannabis Strains: Do Cannabis Strains Differ?


Varietà di cannabis: Le varietà di cannabis hanno effetti diversi?

: Do Differ?

By Dr.

consumers have always maintained that different types (strains, or chemical varieties, chemovars) produce distinct effects, whether this be with respect to their psychoactivity or to their therapeutic attributes. Strains are often designated as sativa, indica, or a hybrid. These labels are quite misleading as applied in the marketplace, however.  In contrast, the scientific community has generally focused on (THC) as the primary or only important variable. It is clear that until very recently, selective breeding in for the recreational and medicinal markets have produced THC-predominant to the exclusion of other . Some researchers have stressed the importance of additional components, especially terpenoids, the aromatic components of that like are produced in glandular trichomes, as important modulators of effects (McPartland & Russo, 2001Russo 2011).

What are other in ?
The most common phyto besides THC is (CBD). It was previously common in landraces from Afghanistan and , for example, but has largely disappeared from recreational . It is also present in hemp fibre and seed strains, but usually in low titre. In the medicinal arena, CBD has received increasing attention due to its many medicinal attributes, including its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits without intoxication or sedation. It also reduces side effects of THC when administered concomitantly, specifically, and tachycardia. Taken together, the two components may demonstrate synergy in many applications.

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Another component of interest is tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), traditionally found in small amounts in Southern African chemovars (chemical varieties). It is currently under investigation as a treatment for metabolic syndrome, often seen as a prelude to the development of Type II diabetes.

Other phyto under investigation include cannabigerol (CBG) for prostate cancer, cannabidivarin (CBDV) for , and several others.

What about terpenoids?
Abundant evidence supports that these low concentration components contribute to the phyto in whole preparations by adding their own therapeutic benefits or allaying side effects of THC. Worthy of particular mention are limonene, with known anti-depressant effects, pinene, which attenuates short-term memory deficits engendered by THC, myrcene, which is sedating, and beta-caryophyllene, which stimulates the non-psychoactive CB2 receptor, and produces anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Further research will address the relative importance of these agents in various preparations.

About the author:
Dr. is a board-certified neurologist, who serves as Senior Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals. He is a past chairman of the International Association for Medicines, and is the current president of the International Research Society.

Additional Reading:
Fischedick, J. T., Hazekamp, A., Erkelens, T., Choi, Y. H. & Verpoorte, R. (2010). Metabolic fingerprinting of Cannabis sativa L., cannabinoids and terpenoids for chemotaxonomic and drug standardization purposes. Phytochemistry, 71, 2058-73.

'Entourage effect'. How cannabinoids and terpenes work together

Izzo, A. A., Borrelli, F., Capasso, R., Di Marzo, V. & Mechoulam, R. (2009). Non-psychotropic plant cannabinoids: new therapeutic opportunities from an ancient herb. Trends Pharmacol Sci, 30, 515-27. 

Russo, E. B. (2007). History of cannabis and its preparations in saga, science and sobriquet. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 4, 2624-2648.



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