The two categories of medical cannabis were first established by researchers in the 18th century. After noticing physical and chemical differences between plants from different geographical regions, strains were grouped as either Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa.

Knowing the differences between these and other types of medical cannabis will make it easier for you to find the best cannabis strains for your unique health symptoms.


If you are new to medical cannabis or cannabis in general than you may wonder how to choose the right medication for you. South Africa has come a long way in this field and now has a vast array of medical marijuana products in a variety of forms and many different strains. Choosing the best strain for your cannabis experience can seem overwhelming at first, but I am here to help.


No two strains of cannabis are exactly the same. In fact, unless the cannabis grows in a very carefully controlled environment, factors like air, wind and sun exposure can change the characteristics of the plant. Plants of the same strain can turn out very different from each other simply based on the conditions they were grown in.

Generally speaking, cannabis grows in one of three main strain types:

  • Indica
  • Sativa
  • Hybrid (combination of the above two).

Each type has different properties, making them more effective for different ailments. Consider which medical conditions you experience to help you find the right strain.


Most medical cannabis professionals consider indica strains ideal for aiding sleep and helping with some psychological conditions. Indica strains generally have less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than sativa strains, but contain more cannabinol (CBD). Cannabinol is a known sleep aid that produces a heavy, numbing feeling that can help with conditions like insomnia.

Indicas also contain higher levels of myrcene, a terpene that produces a fruity and musky scent. Typically, the pungency of this scent is a good indicator of the potency of the plant’s effects.

Indica strains are ideal for:

  • Sleep disorders.
  • Anxiety
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Sativa strains generally contain higher percentages of THC than indica plants, making them the ideal strain for:

Promoting energy and creativity and fighting the psychological symptoms of conditions like depression and attention deficit disorders. Sativa strains generally do not produce the same sedative effects as indica strains, making them a better option for patients who require medication during a busy day. Some sativa strains also produce fast-acting pain relief, making them a fantastic choice for people suffering from:

  • Symptoms of glaucoma.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Migraines

Some medical conditions require a blend of the effects found in Indica and Sativa plants. Medical cannabis growers produce hybrid plants by cross-breeding indica plants with sativa plants. Hybrids tend to be more potent than pure indicas or pure sativas, so it’s vital for anyone considering a hybrid to do some research on the available hybrid strains.

Medical cannabis dispensaries or seed banks generally classify hybrids as “sativa dominant,” “indica dominant” or 50/50 so consumers will know what to expect from using them.


Choosing a strain isn’t just based on indicas, sativas, and hybrids anymore. What truly matters is the cannabinoid content of a strain. THC is just one of the many active compounds found in cannabis. Others include cannabidiol (CBD), a compound that produces the pain relief effects of cannabis without the “high” associated with just smoking. There are also many variations or combinations of CBD and THC.

THC is a fantastic choice for people who need help sleeping or managing anxiety-related disorders and symptoms. This cannabinoids can reduce repeated nightmares and help users fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly

Choosing a strain isn’t just a choice between indicas, sativas, and hybrids. What truly matters is the cannabinoid content of a strain. THC is just one of the active compounds found in marijuana. Others include cannabidiol (CBD), a compound that produces the pain relief effects of marijuana without the “high,” and variations or combinations of CBD and THC.

THC is a fantastic choice for people who need help sleeping or managing anxiety-related disorders and symptoms. This chemical compound can reduce the occurrence of nightmares and help users fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

  • Stress relief
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Relaxation

CBD is the preferred medication for individuals who want targeted pain management or who do not want to worry about the psychological effects of THC strains. It helps eliminate the feelings of pain and has a slight effect on mood, but isn’t considered psychoactive.

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle spasms
  • Epilepsy

Choosing a hybrid strain can be a difficult choice. However, finding the right one can greatly enhance a medical cannabis patient’s experience. A good example is a hybrid that is indica-dominant with high CBD levels that will produce reliable pain relief without the typical psychological effects of THC-heavy indica strains.

Finding a hybrid with a balanced blend of THC and CBD will generally produce enhanced effects of both compounds. These types of strains can be fantastic options for patients requiring anti-inflammatory or severe pain relief without having to worry about the potential of paranoia and anxiety from THC-dominant strains.


Many medical cannabis patients are very happy with the effects of smoking cannabis in the old school fashion. On the other hand, a lot of us worry about the effects of the carcinogens burning plant matter. Other patients may have respiratory conditions that make smoking unpleasant or even impossible. Luckily, there are a wide variety of options that don’t involve smoking.

The first alternative is vaporizing your medical marijuana. “Vaping” has already become a leading choice for smokers looking to quit, and vaping devices are available with so much variety and flavor options. When it comes to medical cannabis, vaporizing produces effects similar to smoking marijuana, but without actually burning anything.

The heating element in the vape super-heats the dried plant matter until it vaporizes and delivers the medicine without the added carcinogens.


When it comes to choosing edibles, keep the differences of strains we covered in mind as you decide. For example, If you’re looking for stress relief, a THC-dominant edible is a perfect choiceOn the other hand, if you want pain relief but still want to be able to go about your day without feeling “high”, a CBD-heavy edible would be ideal for you.


The cannabis market today has so many choices when you looking for specific strains. The best way to choose from the over 700 available to us is to look at your specific needs. If you are simply a recreational user than your choice may be a little easier and you can base your choice on what you may be doing for the day. If you are a medical patient looking for an alternative to prescription drugs than base your choice on the condition you suffer from or the symptoms you want to relieve. An important factor to remember when choosing is to not only look at strains but also cannabinoid content.

Written by Overgrow Team, Aug 2018


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