As cannabis becomes more popular nationwide, more people seek to maximize its benefits in various corners of health and wellness. One such popular category for which people are trying cannabis remedies is inflammation, though with so many products available, one may ask: between sativa or indica strains, which is better for inflammation?
The good news is that many properties of the cannabis plant found in both indica and sativa varieties, such as CBD, THC and the terpenes myrcene, among others, can help combat inflammation in the body. Many studies and anecdotal reports indicate that indica strains may be slightly more beneficial for evening targeting inflammation. At the same time, those who need pain relief during the day typically opt for sativa options.
Read on as we breakdown of whether indica or sativa strains are better for inflammation, the best strains for pain and inflammation, and how CBD and THC fits into the mix.
- Studies indicate that cannabis is highly effective at combating different kinds of inflammation.
- Indica strains are anecdotally better suited for fighting inflammation throughout the body.
- THC, CBD, terpene, and other cannabinoid content matter more than indica or sativa designations for fighting inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is an essential physiological process involved in the body’s defense mechanisms. The immune system uses inflammation to identify and remove foreign or harmful entities (such as diseases) and help the body start healing. However, chronic or acute inflammation can be painful and unwanted, and inflammation itself is involved in every condition.
Inflammation is so crucial, in fact, that there’s a unifying “Inflammation Theory of Disease” examining its involvement in many health conditions. Some inflammation is helpful, but it’s a balancing act: too little impacts our body’s ability to defend itself and heal, while too much can cause its own problems.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS), on which cannabis and its many components operate, plays a fundamental role in regulating the immune system. Different health conditions set off different inflammatory pathways, and scientists are hard at work identifying how the ECS can impact different health problems and how to use it to fight rampant inflammation.
Much of the research has pointed to cannabis’ promising ability to fight many types of inflammation, thanks to its interaction with the ECS.
How Cannabis Could Help Inflammation
Cannabinoids in cannabis, such as THC and CBD, interact with receptors in the body along the endocannabinoid system, called CB1 and CB2 receptors. The former are primarily located in the brain and nervous system, which produces the psychoactivity for which THC is known, while CBD interacts more prominently with CB2 and opioid receptors.
According to recent research, some of the best CBD strains for inflammation work by reducing the actual inflammatory cells in a specific body site and mediating pain sensation by working on opioid sites. THC, conversely, mediates the sensation of pain in the brain, helping relax users and serving as a potential alternative to opioid-based medicines.
The terpenes in cannabis, the compounds that give sativa or indica strains their unique scents, may have their own medical benefits regarding inflammation. Some terpenes with implicated anti-inflammatory properties include:
Sativa vs. Indica for Inflammation
Before jumping into whether sativa or indica strains are better for inflammation, clarifying a key concept is essential. “Indica” and “sativa” scientifically refer to a cannabis plant's growth characteristics rather than the high they produce.
Instead, the presence ratio of THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids has much more to do with your anti-inflammatory experience than these labels. However, they're helpful shorthand terms for our purposes, and for those seeking the best strain for inflammation, consumers want to know what to expect.
Those wondering, “Does indica help with inflammation?” will find that indica strains are often thought to be better suited for inflammation. Many indica strains contain higher levels of myrcene and more CBD than sativa strains, and they are often associated with profound physical and mental relaxation.
Conversely, those asking, “Does sativa help with inflammation?” will find that while many sativa strains produce more energy and creative effects, there are elements in many sativa products that can also provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
Terpenes for Inflammation
As mentioned above, terpenes play a key role in determining the best indica or sativa strain for inflammation. Myrcene, linalool, and pinene are popular anti-inflammatory terpenes in high concentrations in many of the strains we list below.
Limonene is a more energizing terpene, making it better suited for daytime chronic or acute inflammation management. Beta-caryophyllene is also known for its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to manage pain and anxiety.
Best Strains for Inflammation
In the traditional understanding of sativa vs indica strains for inflammation, some of the best options have some CBD, higher levels of THC, and terpenes that have proven effective for relieving pain. Other options well-suited for inflammation have high levels of CBD, which those seeking to mitigate the psychoactive experience of too much THC may prefer.
Known for helping relaxation, this strain is thought to be a cross between OG Kush and another indica strain (most likely Northern Lights or Afghani). Bubba Kush has moderate to high amounts of THC, and contains the terpenes caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene, which work synergistically to reduce pain and inflammation.
ACDC is a high-CBD strain with levels testing around 12% with only 1% CBD. The high levels of CBD and considerable myrcene content help provide good daytime relief, boosting focus while not being quite as sedating as more THC-heavy options.
The Northern Lights strain is an indica cultivar with THC levels testing at about 18%. Its high is euphoric, relaxing muscles and reducing the sensation of pain. As an indica strain, Northern Lights is better suited for evening use or if inflammation affects your ability to sleep.
Blueberry is an indica strain named for its sweet, berry flavors. Per anecdotal reports, Blueberry produces relaxing, euphoric effects that effectively mute the painful sensation of inflammation in various parts of the body.
This strain features an approximate 2:1 ratio of CBD:THC, providing a complementary balance of inflammation-fighting CBD, pain-relieving THC, and minimized psychoactive effects. Harlequin also has higher myrcene content, which adds added inflammation and pain relief.
White Widow is a moderately potent hybrid strain with higher concentrations of THC (15%), CBG, and some myrcene. It reportedly produces stimulating effects while effectively soothing inflammation.
The Bottom Line
It’s more important to pay attention to terpenes and cannabinoid ratios and not just the sativa/indica categorizations. While these terms are helpful for everyday discussion, it's good to understand how THC, CBD, and different terpenes all work together in different cannabis products to fight inflammation effectively.
Check out our different formulations of THC, delta-9 THC, and other cannabinoid-based products at Evn.
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