How does the Cannabinoid Content Affect Your Experience?

Matt Weeks October 30, 2020 0 comments

Looking at the full cannabinoid content will tell you much more about what to expect than THC potency.

Too often, consumers receive poor information before choosing cannabis strains. They go in search of strains that have a high percentage of THC or look specifically for strains that are indica or sativa, without realizing that such classifications are outdated and mostly unhelpful. The common thinking has equated THC content with psychoactive effects. But this isn’t exactly true. Overall cannabinoid content and ratio is more important.

This doesn’t mean consumers should expect a mystery every time they buy a new strain. There’s too much good science available to strand consumers on the island of trial and error. Instead, knowing how to read and understand the cannabinoid content of a strain can reveal reliable ways to predict the effect of cannabis plants.

Cannabinoid Content: The Importance of Terpenes

The two biggest factors influencing consumer experience are THC and CBD. Before we go into that, however, remember that the terpene content of any strain will also have a huge impact on how the strain affects the consumer. As a result, the full cannabinoid content of any strain should never be overlooked. Here is a rough chart of what the consumer may expect from some major terpenes.

Pinene An anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, as well as a bronchodilator. Pine.
Caryophyllene An analgesic (pain relief), and anti-inflammatory. Citrus, Spice, Pepper, Earthy.
Humulene An anti-inflammatory, suppresses appetite. Woody, Spicy, Herbal.
Limonene May elevate mood, or promote relaxation. Citrus, Fresh Spice.
Linalool Analgesic, an anticonvulsant, and a sedative Lavender, Citrus, Fresh Spice.
Myrcene Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory. Known to induce sleep in smaller doses. Flowery, Earthy.
Terpinolene Antioxidant, Sedative. Lime, Herbal, Woody, Floral.

The THC to CBD Ratio

The ratio of CBD to THC is one of the most important aspects of the effects of cannabis. Knowing that a plant has ten percent THC won’t help consumers determine how it will affect them. They need the other half of the puzzle.

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Under normal circumstances, the body’s processing of THC produces a euphoric effect commonly known as a “high.” It includes warm feelings of relaxation and merriment and a positive outlook. However, consumers who take too much THC can experience a spike in heart rate or anxiety.

CBD, on the other hand, is known for its calming and anti-stress properties. Both compounds work well against different kinds of pain and inflammation.

But, when mixed together, the CBD and THC become more than the sum of their parts. Further, CBD has a profound effect on the way the body processes THC. At a molecular level, CBD blocks some THC compounds from interacting with the CB1 receptors in the body, leading to less-severe effects from THC. At the same time, the natural calming properties of CBD work directly against the anxiety-prone effects of THC.

In effect, CBD negates the potency of THC — but not at 1:1.

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The “Golden Ratio”

So, would a cannabis strain commanding a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC simply be a wash? Would the CBD cancel out all the effects of THC, leading to no “high”? Not quite.

A 1:1 strain still gets consumers high. But, the negative side effects of THC (and the high itself) are diminished. For most people, this kind of strain grants the best of both worlds. It reduces feelings of anxiety and short-term memory loss while still permitting the euphoric mood boosters that come from THC. In fact, 1:1 strains are the top recommended for new patients.

Additionally, many cannabis patients with chronic conditions opt for 1:1 strains, and several are always available from any cannabis shop or dispensary. However, consumers with more sensitive systems may need a different cannabinoid content, on with high CBD ratio to cancel out THC’s undesired outcomes.

Choosing the Right Cannabinoid Content

Every chemovar of cannabis has its own perks, thanks to the overall cannabinoid content. It’s not just CBD and THC. Other cannabinoids, such as terpenes or CBG, play important roles in the functionality of cannabis. Consumers who want to customize their cannabis experience have several tools that can help them pick the best cannabis chemovar for their wants and needs. While all cannabinoids are important — and scientists are discovering just how much every day — the single biggest determinant in full-spectrum cannabis effects is still the CBD:THC ratio.

cannabinoid content represented by researcher eyeing bud

2:1  / 4:1  CBD:THC

Strains with a 2:1 to 4:1 CBD-to-THC ratio are excellent for consumers who still want to experience the mood-lifting effects of THC, but want a more subdued high. Strains like Harlequin may offer help for anxiety and stress while still increasing energy and outlook.

10:1 / 25:1  CBD:THC

Consumers who do not want to get high at all can grab strains with ratios of 10:1 up to 25:1. These are CBD-dominant variants that have very little THC in their cannabinoid content. These kinds of strains, such as AC/DC, don’t produce highs — but they still allow consumers some benefits of the entourage effect thanks to the presence of THC.

1:2  / 1:10 CBD:THC

On the other hand, some consumers prefer 0:1 strains, which provide heavier psychoactive effects. Strains in this family, such as Girl Scout Cookies, are known for ramping up appetites, soothing inflammation, and inducing happy moods. People with certain conditions such as ADHD sometimes find THC-dominant 0:1 strains can aid focus and relaxation. More often, however, people with serious pain issues, or insomnia, prefer high-THC strains that still contain CBD. Strains such as Silver Haze have serious high amounts of THC that produce powerful sedative and mood-lifting effects in consumers.

Whatever one’s purpose for buying cannabis, basic familiarity with cannabinoid content, especially the CBD:THC ratio, can help. Understanding the ratio is the key to unlocking a better cannabis experience each and every time.

Author avatar

Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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