It’s long been known in Eastern countries that cannabis can be used to treat a variety of symptoms and disorders, both physical and mental. Now Western medicine is catching onto the fact that cannabis can be used as medicine. But it can be hard to figure out which strain to use, or even how to administer it, given that there are so many different types of marijuana strains and hybrids, and there are lots of creative ways that people are administering and ingesting it. If you’ve ever walked into a dispensary and seen the different varieties and names, and felt overwhelmed, fear not. There is a way to determine which type of weed and high you need to treat your ailments
What’s the difference?
The first thing you’ve probably noticed is that people commonly refer to their experiences with marijuana in terms of saying they either had a “head high” or a “body high”. It may sound like hippy nonsense but knowing the difference can actually be really helpful. A “head high” produces psychological effects, often having energizing effects, euphoria, and optimism, and allowing a person to focus on things with ease. A “body high” creates a calming effect, and people often report feeling “melted to the couch” because of its nearly sedative effects. So, a “head high” is good for depression, day usage, ADD and focusing, and things of that nature. “Body highs” are great for pain, muscle spasms, sleep disorders, and anxiety. But there are many reasons that the two different types of highs are produced.
The most obvious reason for the different effects is that there are different strains. The two most dominant strains are Indica and Sativa. Indica produces the body highs because they’re high in THC. Some of the effects produced by Indica are laziness, tiredness, body sensitivity, clumsiness, and a heightened sense of “sexual awareness”. (Yeah, some strains of pot can make you horny or increase sensation.) It’s recommended for people who experience muscle spasms, chronic pain, insomnia, and other sleep disorders, cancer pain, and migraines. A lot of people say they get a “buzzing sensation” throughout their bodies from Indica. I have no idea what that’s about, personally, but it sounds cool. For the past 15 years or so, if I smoked weed and got a body high, I just kind of felt relaxed and lethargic. (In fact, I’ve heard my friends refer to it as “in da couch”.)
Sativa produces a “head high”, due to high levels of CBD in it. It’s good to smoke during the day if you need to remain productive because you’re able to feel energized and focused. Some people attribute creativity to Sativa, and it makes music and cartoons awesome. Colors appear more vividly, and sounds are more enhanced. And, often people feel happier and more optimistic after smoking it, which makes it a good choice for those with depression. It would be a great choice for a depressed artist with ADHD. However, it’s not a good idea to go straight for Sativa if you’re experiencing anxiety, as sometimes it can create a sense of paranoia and makes it worse.
Hybrids are also a thing now. Because of the amount of different types of cannabis plants being fused together to produce different types of highs, very few plants are purely Indica or Sativa. You’ll likely end up with some combination of the two. So, if you were told you were getting Indica and it exhibits Sativa properties, you’re going to want to have a conversation with whomever you purchased it from, making sure to tell them that is NOT what you expected.
The Effects of Edibles
How you ingest the pot makes a difference, as well. It was previously thought that the reason you get more psychological effects from smoking weed is because it’s immediately absorbed in the blood and is therefore able to pass the blood-brain barrier. That would make most people think that smoking it would get you more messed up than edibles, but that isn’t the case. While the effects of smoking are pretty immediate, you’re going to peak around half an hour to an hour after you smoke, and it’s all downhill from there, wearing off after a couple of hours. Edibles, however, produce a really strong “body high” which lasts longer than if it’s smoked, sometimes lasting 4-6 hours. In Toronto, two police officers had an incident where they ate too many edibles. They got pretty f*cked up and started hallucinating. Thinking that they had overdosed and were going to die, they called emergency services. As hilarious as that is by itself, they then had to be taken to the hospital to get checked out and were understandably suspended from duty. But, how can eating a few pot brownies get you so stoned, and in what circumstances would you want to be?
The reason you get more high from edibles than smoking pot isn’t entirely because it’s metabolized differently, but more due to the fact that your digestive system is better able to absorb the weed. When you smoke pot, you receive low levels of Delta-9-THC, which then gets turned into 11-hydroxy-THC. Terpenes in THC make it oil-soluble, and it doesn’t break down well when it’s absorbed into the blood, which is mostly water. When you eat it though, the THC starts breaking down the second that it hits your saliva, ensuring that there is more Delta-9-THC, to begin with. Then your liver turns that already large amount of Delta-9-THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more water soluble. So, basically, smoking isn’t the most efficient way to ingest your pot, edibles are. Because your digestive system is designed to absorb one type of THC and then convert it into another, stronger type that’s more easily absorbed, it’s like getting high twice, and that second ride is a doozy!
Put Your Pot to Good Use!
If you’re wondering who could possibly need such a potent high, the answer to that is varied, as edibles can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Obviously, a more intense high would be good for cancer patients (especially those who can’t smoke due to lung conditions), or for those who experience immense pain for long periods of time. I have Crohn’s disease, and I can also attest to the fact that absorbing marijuana directly into the digestive tract helps with digestive disorders and any type of pain in your guts. It would also be good for someone who experiences immense depression but doesn’t have anxiety. (Side note: if you have anxiety, steer clear from anything that says “intense”, edibles or otherwise. Edibles give you an intense, prolonged high. As the officers in Toronto found out, an intense high can result in a lot of anxiety and panic.)
So, now that you know about the different types of highs, you’ll be better able to choose which variety of weed you purchase. Remember to be cautious when eating edibles. Even though they give you an intense high, it can take about half an hour to an hour to kick in, which makes it really tempting to eat more in the meantime. And, if you do happen to eat too much, do some cardio. Exercise gets the blood pumping and aids metabolism, which can help to push it out of your system faster. This is also great when you have to go out and you’re stoned out of your mind. Just do some cardio real quick, drink a bunch of water, and you’ll be good to go in no time!