Finding energizing strains that also boost mood could be in the terpenes.
There are countless strains of cannabis available today, each with unique combinations of naturally occurring compounds: terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids. These variations are why some strains are better at treating chronic pain, others at igniting creativity, and still others offer superior relaxation. And there is one terpene in particular, myrcene, that will always be found in very low levels in energizing strains.
Do You Need a Sativa or Indica?
Historically, experts have placed cannabis into two distinct categories: indica and sativa. Indicas are famed for imparting the effects of drowsiness and relaxation, while sativas are said to be energizing. To this day, these simplistic assumptions are used by doctors, patients and dispensary staff when sorting out an appropriate strain for a client.
We know things are much more complex than this, and there has been a movement to rename strains as ‘chemovars.’ This is because not all indica strains are relaxing and not all sativa strains give you a boost. To make it even more confusing, most strains that are sold in dispensaries are “hybrids.” This means that while their genetic history can be determined, the overall medicinal effects are not compatible with “indica” or “sativa.”
What Makes a Strain Energizing?
A quick scan of the options at your local bud shop, and you’ll notice a huge variety of hybrids. Cannabis breeders are well beyond a standard 1:1 combination of indica and sativa. Today, the lineage of a strain may already be two or three hybrids deep.
If you are looking for a pure sativa, you’ll need to find strains sourced from their motherland, perhaps a landrace. These will have little, if any, history of crop management and zero genetic manipulation. If you’re not into traipsing through the jungle, you can choose a pure sativa that is available locally. Know however, that these are best for daytime consumption. Some consumers might find as well that THC-rich varieties can cause paranoia.
Energizing Strains, Getting What You Want
With all else remaining the same, there should be nothing different in a high from a sativa versus one from an indica. From experience, we know better – sativa is very much a cerebral effect, whereas its counterpart is all body. The psychoactive effect stems from the THC molecule, which remains chemically the same across the board. So, what gives?
It’s all the other compounds that influence the nuances of the cannabis experience. Scientists are linking terpenes to sedation, pain relief, uplifted mood, relaxation, and of course energy.
Kymron deCesare, the research director at a cannabis testing lab in Oakland, California, recently exposed some of what differentiates a true indica from a sativa. In this test, deCesare and his team found that the key terpene could be myrcene.
Indica and Sativa Terpene Action
DeCesare believes it is myrcene, which smells earthy and intensely musky, that creates the sedative effects of indica. According to his research, “myrcene is the major ingredient responsible for ‘flipping’ the normal energetic effect of THC into a couch-lock effect.” So, this, then, is the secret for avoiding couch-lock: stay away from strains that are high in myrcene.
It can be tricky, however, because individual growing and curing conditions can greatly impact the end terpene content. As an example, Analytical360 tested two separate samples of Pineapple Express and found 0.20% myrcene in the first, and 1.69% in the second. This is a huge difference when it comes to potential “relaxation.”
In the end, you’ll need to do your own experimentation with strain to find a local option with the energetic effects you want.
Top 5 Strains to Energize
As you head into your local dispensary, here are some mood and spirit boosting strains to check out.
- Ghost Train Haze (Sativa)
- Sour Diesel (Sativa)
- Jack Herer (Sativa)
- Jilly Bean (Hybrid)
- Durban Poison (Sativa)
The easiest way to find a high-quality, uplifting and energetic strain of cannabis is to ask the experts. Ask questions, find out which producer it came from, and then test it out for yourself. A strain might not always meet your expectations the first time you try it, so keep an open mind, and be wiling to try again.