More and more people are discovering the benefits of using cannabis for treating a multitude of medical conditions from anxiety and depression to epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Every year now more and more states are joining the list of states where it is legal to use medical cannabis. There is also a growing national movement, albeit at a glacial pace, towards the legalization of cannabis for adult use, otherwise known as recreational use.
So because of this fast growing awareness there are a lot more people who are now hearing about and considering using medical cannabis to treat their chronic medical conditions.
So if you are new to world of medical cannabis and are looking for some guidance as far as what strains might be best suited to help you with your particular condition or if you have been using cannabis to treat what ails you for a while now and are interested in what the latest and greatest strains out there now are, then this is for you.
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Please remember that I am not offering you any kind of medical advice nor am I encouraging you to break any laws. I’m just sharing some information that you may find useful for your present situation. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
I highly recommend that you seek out the guidance of a doctor or medical expert familiar with treating their patients with cannabis before trying to treat yourself.
Here is a list of resources with their link to people who may be able help you to determine if cannabis is a good option for you:
The United Patients Group – John and Corinne Malanca are wonderful people who can answer your questions a put you in contact with medical professionals to help with your particular challenges.
Myriam’s Hope – Diana Peña and Jeff Caliri specialize in treating people with seizure disorders and cancer.
Green Health Consultants founder Eloise Theisen (MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC) and her team are compassionate, highly knowledgeable healthcare professionals dedicated to ensuring patients receive the qualified counseling they need to safely, effectively use cannabinoids to manage a health condition, treat an illness, and reduce their intake of pharmaceuticals.
Before looking at the individual strains let’s first address you beginners who are really new to medical cannabis. Maybe you smoked a bit in college years ago or maybe you never touched the evil weed for a multitude of reasons but now you find yourself out of desperation, or a recommendation from a friend or doctor, seriously considering taking the next step to actually give it a go to help with your the condition that you are struggling with. To that I say that you’ve already taken the most important step, and that is to finally make the choice to take control of your own life and health.
So if you’re just starting out I want to try to help you to avoid a negative experience that may turn you off to something that could potentially be a huge game-changer for you.
So if you are new to cannabis, I’d really take it slow and easy with your choices of strains and methods for consumption to ensure that you are able to successfully treat your condition without experiencing any of the uncomfortable side effects that can come with using the wrong consumption method or from being too high for comfort.
Here are a few tips to make sure that your initial experiences are positive ones.
First, start off with strains that are low in THCs and high in CBDs. THC is the chemical, or better known as the cannabinoid, that is responsible for the psychological high and when smoking cannabis with a higher percentage of THC it can cause you to feel paranoid and to significantly increase your anxiety level.
Cannabidiols or better known as CBD’s are the cannabinoids in cannabis that provide a lot of the medicinal qualities without actually getting you high. CBDs are also a moderating factor for THC and so choosing strains with high CBDs and THC will result in less of a psychological high, than those with the same THC but lower CBDs. Do you follow me so far?
CBD’s are amazing, really. CBDs are now shown to have anti-psychotic effects and has been effective in the treatment of mental illness such as schizophrenia. CBDs also contain very powerful anti-inflammation properties making it effective for treating auto-immune diseases such as arthritis, lupus, vitiligo, inflammatory bowel disease, pernicious anemia and many more.
CBD’s also contain antioxidants that help to lower your risk of cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. It is also known to be very effective as an anti-tumor medication. Not bad for a plant that you can grow in your closet.
And for you that don’t want to get high at all, the good news is that there are a lot of strains that are very effective medically with very little THC and therefore have little to no psychoactive effects.
On the other hand, some of the higher THC strains can be very effective for pain relief and for relief of stress and anxiety so they can be very beneficial.
The highs that are produced by many of the mid to high THC strains can help with focus, energy, mood and can be really quite uplifting.
Also, the method in which you consume cannabis can have a huge effect on your whether you have a positive experience or not. A lot of experienced cannabis users have smoked joints or marijuana cigarettes, pipes and bongs for their entire lives and can do so without any negative effects.
But if you’re just starting out, trying to find a comfortable way to consume it, smoking it may do nothing but cause you to have an uncontrollable coughing fit at every puff. It is also much harder for some people to control your dosage when smoking it like that.
Many people, particularly beginners, find smoking it very difficult, hard on the lungs and throat, and distasteful. But smoking it is the fastest way to get the medicine into your bloodstream and help with your pain so what can you do?
Fortunately, there is an excellent alternative to smoking it and that is vaporizing it with a vape. Vapes come in all forms from big desktop models, called volcanos, to small vape pens that fit easily into your pocket. Vapes have a lot of benefits. First of all, they are very easy on your throat and lungs. You are actually smoking a vapor as opposed to smoke from burning cannabis. The vapor is created by heating the cannabis to lower temps, avoiding the burning altogether.
It tastes better. To me it tastes like tea. It’s also a lot more discreet. If you smoke a joint, everybody within 100 yards of you will know, or think that there’s a skunk nearby. And the odor that smoking leaves on your clothes for all intents and purposes turns you into a human skunk. How many times have you been in a room when somebody, who just recently smoked some cannabis, walks in and voila…a human skunk…literally. With a vape, there is no tell-tale skunkiness making it a lot more discreet.
Also, dosing with a vaporizer is much easier. You can control your dosage and level of being high with ease. I have also found that the high with vapes are much better making it much less likely to get the negative psychological effects of being too high. No more paranoia and social awkwardness. Maybe that’s just me though.
Vaping is a good way to ensure maximum bio-availability of the THC and CBDs because it goes straight to your bloodstream via the lungs. Eating it, as discussed later, can seriously diminish the bio-availability of the cannabinoids and other medicinal components of the cannabis by up to 85%.
You can get a good vape for less than $100 dollars that does flower, wax and oil.
Another excellent way to take cannabis, especially if you’re adverse to inhaling it is to do it sublingually using a spray or concentrate under the tongue. Doing it this way keeps the bio-availability of the cannabis as high as possible ensuring that you get a good dose of CBDs.
It’s also easier to control dosage with individual sprays or drops of concentrate. There are some good sprays available at the better dispensaries or you can try to make your own, though this is a fairly complicated process. I’ll cover this in a future podcast. Cannabis concentrates are also illegal in many states so beware of that too.
I’m not really going to cover concentrates, such as wax, oil and shatter, in this post. Concentrates can get you really high…really fast, so they may not be the best choice for a beginner. Suffice it now to say that concentrates can be very effective for using cannabis to treat chronic disease such as cancer and epilepsy. The use of it should also be monitored by your doctor or medical professional, who is experienced in it’s use as a treatment.
The next method for consuming cannabis is by eating it. This can be a great way for taking cannabis and for a lot of people it’s the best option for avoiding having to smoke it at all but there is a big word of caution with doing edibles. The effects of eating cannabis can be delayed by hours and then once felt, can last a lot longer than smoking it…It can last many hours. And the big mistake many newcomers do with eating is to eat too much, too early and then getting uncomfortably high for hours.
Getting this high can be extremely uncomfortable and disturbing. Just as an aside here, if you ever are in this situation, the first thing to remember is that nobody ever died of a cannabis overdose and so it’s best to not panic. Try drinking some water to hydrate yourself. It’s not a good idea to compound this experience by drinking alcohol.
Now, I know that this may sound strange but getting just a few whole black peppercorns and chewing on them can really help. I know, I know, it sounds very strange but many people swear that this can provide very quick relief. Hey, Neil Young is a proponent so who am I to question Neil, right?
It’s best to find a safe, comfortable place to lie down and relax. And remember, This too shall pass. The moral of this story is be very careful and start off with tiny doses and be patient!
It is also very important to remember, as I mentioned earlier that eating cannabis significantly decreases the bio-availability of the chemical components of the cannabis, particularly the CBDs and THCs. This is due to the whole digestive process where it’s exposed to stomach acids and then filtration through the liver and kidneys.
Topicals can also be very soothing for pain and localized symptoms. Our skin is pretty efficient at absorbing topicals and most of them won’t get you high at all. Some patients swear by topicals… others don’t get much relief.
This can be a very effective way to ingest cannabis but it can also be very expensive because it takes a lot more cannabis per dose, than the other methods. It also requires that the plant be fresh, as in, no drying at all…I mean fresh right off of the bush.
This means that you have to have access to fresh cannabis at all times which means that you either have to grow your own, and I mean a lot of your own, year around, or you have to have access to fresh whole cannabis, which can be prohibitively expensive, especially from a dispensary. I’ll cover this topic in much more detail in a future podcast.
So those are the main delivery methods of cannabis.
So lets take a look at the top 10 medical cannabis strains of 2016.
The following strains are very High CBD Strains and low to medium in their THC content making them a great choice for beginners.
Harlequin is a very popular strain for treating pain, inflammation and anxiety. It was the very first high CBD strain in the United States. It has a whopping 5:2 ratio of CBD to Cannabis making it an excellent choice for minimizing the psychoactive effects while pumping up the medicinal qualities. The high is a very subtle and clear-headed. It has around 4-7% THC and 8-16% CBD. This strain is a winner.
Sour Tsunami is another strain made famous by its high CBD content. It is very effective at treating pain, inflammation, muscle spasms and stress with a very minimal high. The THC content is under 10% while the CBD test out at about 10 or 11%. This is one of the best strains exhibiting the 1:1 ratio of THC to CBDs which seems to be a sweet spot for medical cannabis. It has been effective at fighting several forms of aggressive cancers.
ACDC is a remarkable strain of cannabis exhibiting a 20:1 ratio of CBDs to THC. It virtually produces no discernible psychoactive effects. It’s amazing. It has been used to treat patients with pain, anxiety, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis as well as the negative side effects of chemotherapy. It contains a paltry average of .42 – 1.2% THC and a whopping 16-24% CBD.
Cannatonic – This interesting strain has a very low THC content of around 5% and a very high CBD content of around 6 – 17%. It produces a mild, fairly short high that is very relaxing. It is excellent when used for pain, muscle spasms, anxiety and for migraines. It has been used to treat severe seizures and for cancer. This is a good choice for people who don’t want the full effects of a THC high.
Charlottes Web is another well-known strain named after Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl whose severe seizures were successfully treated with this strain. Due to its very low THC content at less than 1% and very High CBD content topping off at around 17% this strain will not produce any psychoactive effects but wow, it’s a medical powerhouse. It is used to treat seizures, muscle spasms, pain, headaches, and stress. It has been reported to produce dizziness in some patients.
Harle-Tsu is a cross-breeding of two very high CBD strains, Harlequin and Sour Tsunami, both of which has earned a spot on my favorites list here. It boasts a 20:1 ratio of CBD to THC and has between 20 to 24% CBD making it one of the highest in the market today. It’s THC level is a paltry 1% or less. It has a very minimal high where you don’t feel stoned or have that feeling of paranoia.
This strain may be hard to find but is worth the search if you do find it. This is a go-to strain for many marijuana doctors for treating chronic pain, stress and inflammatory disorders. This strain is also very good for sleep and relaxation.
The following strains are medium to high in their THC content so they may get you very high. These strains should be approached cautiously by beginners though they do provide very powerful medical benefits.
Blackberry Kush is a strain that is fairly high in THC but is very effective with pain, stress, anxiety and insomnia. It produces a pronounced high due to it’s 20% THC content and can put you in sleepy land in no time. It also has a 2% CBD content.
Sour Diesel – This very popular strain is known worldwide. It’s a very powerful strain providing an invigorating and very uplifting high. It is very effective for treating stress, depression and pain. Beware of the munchies with this one. It is about 18%-25% THC and .5% CBD. It’s not for the faint-hearted so this may not be your best first pick as a beginner.
Blue Widow, aka Blue Venom, Berry White and White Berry, is a medium to high THC content strain That has been used effectively to relieve pain and pain related symptoms such as cramps, sprains, migraines as well as anxiety, hypertension and stress. It is also used to relieve the nausea caused by chemotherapy. The high produced is a very happy, relaxed and uplifting.
Blue Dream – Blue Dream is a sativa leaning hybrid which is a legend among strains. It is one of the most popular strains and is usually readily available. This amazing hybrid produces a very happy, relaxed, euphoric high while easing stress and depression. It works well with chronic pain due to injury or illness. The effects of it have been compared to a full-body massage. It is also very easy to grow with enormous yields. It can have from 17% – 24% THC and from .1 to .2% CBD.
HERE is a great video put out by Leafly on Blue Dream
Let me know if I missed any of your favorites. I’ll add them to the list of recommended strains.
Well, there you have it. There’s something here for every taste and need. If you go into a dispensary and they don’t have a particular strain that you’re looking for talk to the budtender, they should be able to direct, you to something equivalent or to a hybrid which contains close to the same chemical components. It seems like there’s new strains popping up every day.