There are thousands of cannabis strains available today with a wide range of effects, smells, and appearances – but which strains are best for your condition? Some patients are looking for the soaring cerebral highs of a Sativa to alleviate depression, while others require the sedative almost narcotic properties of a true Indica to kill pain or sleep. Although there is no way to know for sure how an individual strain will effect you until you actually try it, a thorough knowledge of cannabis and it’s sub-species’ can help guide you to the medicine best suited for you and your ailment.

Cannabis Indica

Cannabis Indica grows with wide leaflets, and generally remains short and bush like. Most Indica varieties flower very quickly, with buds reaching full maturity between 7-9 weeks after inducing flowering. Indica buds are dense and compact, and generally produce a more sedative or narcotic stone that’s felt mostly in the body rather than a cerebral “high”. Indica’s are best used for appetite stimulation or sleep and can often produce lethargy or a lack of motivation if you over-indulge.

Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis Sativa grows tall with long slender leaflets, sometimes reaching heights of 10′+ when grown outdoors. Sativa varieties take much longer to flower, with most reaching maturity between 10-16 weeks. The plants colas grow long and loose, and often produce profound changes in perception – the buzz of the sativa is cerebral and felt mostly in the head. The high of the sativa can be overwhelming if you over-indulge causing paranoia or uncontrollable laughing spells, but if used in moderation can be great for social events or for day time use. The upbeat Sativa buzz can be great for those suffering from depression, and in some cases even helps those with an inability to concentrate (ADD/ADHD). Most of the imported weed of yesteryear from Columbia, Mexico, the famous Thai Sticks, etc. were Sativas.

Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis Ruderalis was rarely seen or talked about in the medical community until recently, when breeders began crossing in this “auto-flowering” sub-species into the more potent indica and sativa varieties. Unlike both Cannabis Indica and Sativa, Ruderalis begins to flower based strictly on age rather than it’s light cycle and can endure much harsher climates. The buds of these plants have little or no recreational value, but when combined with more potent varieties they can be valuable breeding material in creating strains that finish long before the season dictates.


Most cannabis you come across is going to be a hybrid of some sort, consisting of both Indica and Sativa (And in some cases even Ruderalis) genes in varying proportions. Hybrids come in all shapes and sizes and can deliver a wide range of effects, often producing healthier and faster growing plants than a pure landrace variety (referred to as ‘Hybrid Vigor’). Hybridization has allowed breeders to produce varieties that still retain the effects and flavors of exotic sativa varieties, while bringing down their size and flowering time – making them more manageable for indoor cultivators and those with shorter growing seasons. A well balanced hybrid can be very useful, producing effects that both calm the body and stimulate the mind simultaneously.