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Must-Have Cannabis Strains to Grow for Your Health

By Monica Mansfield | Last updated: July 22, 2021
Key Takeaways

If you want to use the medicinal power of cannabis to help treat what ails you, Monica Mansfield explores some of the strains you might want to grow at home and what properties they have.

Cannabis has been recognized as a medicine for thousands of years. Sure, it’s fun to giggle with your friends and feed your munchies. For many people, however, cannabis helps them get through the day.

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Patients can find relief with cannabis if they suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, migraines, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, and nausea. Some have successfully used this natural medicine in their cancer treatments and to treat their pain associated with chemotherapy. Others have drastically reduced their usage of opioid pain medications, and the side effects that go along with them. There are promising studies showing it can help treat Alzheimer’s, dementia, and even COVID-19.

Not all cannabis strains are created equal, and one strain can affect people differently. Each strain is made up of a different chemical profile that determines its overall effect. When finding the strain that’s right for you, consider the THC and CBD levels, which terpenes it contains, and whether a variety is an indica, sativa, or hybrid.

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If you know these variables, you can make an educated choice when deciding which strains to grow for yourself. However, the ultimate test is to smoke each one and see how it affects you personally.

Blue Dream cannabis strainBlue Dream cannabis strain

Indica vs. Sativa

Indicas and sativas tend to be good for different purposes. In general, indicas are good for relaxing your body and mind, making you sleepy, and giving you “couch lock.” Sativas tend to be more energizing and uplifting. They get your mind going and your creativity flowing. Hybrids fall somewhere in between and vary from strain to strain.

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If you want to treat your depression, the demotivating effects of an indica may be counterproductive. If you suffer from anxiety, smoking too much sativa may increase your anxiety. If you have trouble sleeping, an indica will probably be most effective. If you’re battling stress, an indica is definitely going to relax you. Keep in mind, these are only general guidelines. Each strain is unique and will affect everyone differently.

Dosing is a little different for indicas and sativas too. With indicas, you can usually smoke as much as you like without greening out. However, if you smoke too much of a sativa, you can have a full-blown panic attack. It is better to smoke smaller amounts of a sativa more frequently.

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Charlotte's Web cannabis strainCharlotte's Web cannabis strain

THC and CBD

Cannabis is full of a variety of cannabinoids, however, the most well-known are THC and CBD. THC is the chemical that is intoxicating and slightly hallucinogenic. Not only does it give you a euphoric buzz, but it is also very beneficial to your health. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory, with twice the anti-inflammatory power of hydrocortisone and 20 times the power of an aspirin. It is a muscle relaxant, bronchodilator, antioxidant, and has neuroprotective properties.

(Read also: Exploring the Cannabis Entourage Effect)

CBD, on the other hand, counteracts the “high” from THC. Strains with high levels of CBD tend to be less intoxicating, while still effectively treating pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, epilepsy, diabetes, neurological disorders, and antibiotic-resistant infections.
There are products on the market that isolate the CBD. They work well for all of these conditions, however, when you ingest an isolate, you lose the “entourage effect.” The entourage effect is how all the different chemicals in the cannabis plant work together to create its unique overall experience. Cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids work together to create an arguably better experience with more health benefits.

Girl Scout Cookies cannabis strainGirl Scout Cookies cannabis strain

Cannabis Terpenes

The terpenes in your cannabis strain have a massive effect on the benefits it provides. Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons found in essential oils. Each terpene has its own unique scent, such as citrus or pine, and its own health benefits. The smell of your favorite cannabis strains can clue you in to which terpenes it contains, and therefore which health ailments it will be useful in treating.

For example, limonene has a citrus scent and relieves depression and anxiety. Researchers have found that it increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain much like prescription antidepressants. It is also helpful for alleviating pain and inflammation. It is the second-most abundant terpene in cannabis and can be found in strains such as Sour Diesel, Super Lemon Haze, and Girl Scout Cookies.

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis and is responsible for its signature earthy scent. It is sedating, relaxing, calming, and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Cannabis strains with high myrcene levels include Granddaddy Purple, Blue Dream, and White Widow.

Cannatonic cannabis strainCannatonic cannabis strain

Pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature and will make you feel energetic, alert, and focused. As a bronchodilator, it opens up the lungs and can be beneficial for asthma. It is also useful for chronic pain, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and even has anti-cancer properties. Strains with high pinene levels include Jack Herer, Blue Dream, and Dutch Treat.

(Read also: Customize Your Cannabis Experience with Terpenes)

Caryophyllene can be found in strains with a spicy, peppery aroma such as Super Silver Haze, Girl Scout Cookies, and Skywalker. It is ideal for managing stress, anxiety, and pain. It is also effective for treating ulcers, digestive issues, and even shows promise for alcoholism.

Linalool is the main terpene found in lavender and is responsible for its calming effects. Cannabis strains high in linalool are excellent for treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, epilepsy, pain, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and for boosting your immune system. Research has shown it to be useful in restoring cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients and for reducing lung inflammation in cigarette smokers. Strains high in linalool include Amnesia Haze, 9 lb. Hammer, and LA Confidential.

White Widow cannabis strainWhite Widow cannabis strain

Top Cannabis Strains to Grow

Although all cannabis strains have their charms, some stand out for treating certain ailments better than others. Each strain’s unique chemical profile will determine how well it treats certain issues. The following strains are top performers.

  • Blue Dream is a popular and widely available sativa-dominant hybrid that strikes the perfect balance between an uplifting and relaxing high. It makes you feel simultaneously euphoric and mellow, effectively treating depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. It has a high THC level of between 17-24 percent, which makes it ideal for treating chronic pain, inflammation, and migraines. It also helps you focus, which can be helpful for those with ADHD.
  • White Widow is a balanced, but very potent, indica-dominant hybrid that will leave you in a fit of giggles. It’s a surefire fix for depression and anxiety. It gives you an uplifting and cerebral buzz, while also relaxing your body and relieving pain. It is a top choice for migraines and chronic pain, but shouldn’t be used if you need to focus and get work done. It has a high THC content and a strong couch-lock effect. It will conquer your insomnia and put you to sleep in no time. White Widow is also quite beautiful. When grown well, it will be coated in sparkling white crystals.
  • Cannatonic’s high-CBD content and low-THC content will treat what ails you with a very mellow buzz that is both uplifting and relaxing. It is a good choice for joint and muscle pain, nerve pain, PTSD, depression, and anxiety, and is considered one of the leading medical strains.
  • Charlotte’s Web gained notoriety when a little girl named Charlotte Figi, who had a rare form of epilepsy, used this CBD strain to reduce her seizures from 300 down to only four per month. Her story inspired families around the country and spurred the CBD movement. Charlotte’s Web was bred specifically for Charlotte and is the perfect strain for treating epilepsy without the psychoactive effects. It can also be used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, diabetes, and neurological disorders.
  • Girl Scout Cookies is a powerful and intense strain that starts in the mind and then relaxes the body. This Cannabis Cup award winner will energize you and then send you to dreamland, making it perfect for treating insomnia. It is an indica-dominant hybrid, but still has a high-sativa content, making it a happy and cerebral high. It is also a great choice for treating depression, anxiety, nausea, and appetite loss. Be sure to ease into GSC slowly so the psychoactive effects don’t overwhelm you.

(Read also: The 5 Best High-CBD Cannabis Strains to Grow)

You can grow specific cannabis strains perfectly suited to your needs. Whether you are looking to boost your mood or reduce the number of seizures you suffer through, there is a strain to improve your quality of life. These guidelines should help you find your perfect match.

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Written by Monica Mansfield | Homesteader, Owner & Writer of The Nature Life Project

Profile Picture of Monica Mansfield

Monica Mansfield is passionate about gardening, sustainable living, and holistic health. After owning an indoor garden store for 5 1/2 years, Monica sold the business and started a 6.5-acre homestead with her husband, Owen. She writes about gardening and health, as well as her homestead adventures on her blog at thenaturelifeproject.com.

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