Why Do Certain Strains Affect People Differently?
Most people familiar with cannabis culture are probably familiar with the distinctions that differentiate indica and sativa strains of the plant. Typically, the general consensus preaches that most indica strains of cannabis possess calming, sedative effects (attributed to higher CBD content), whilst most sativa strains possess alerting, more stimulating effects (attributed to higher THC content). On paper these distinctions may seem to be helpful rules of thumb, but the reality is far from being that binary or black & white.
Cannabis fundamentally takes effect in the body through it’s Endocannabinoid System, and every individual ECS can react to the same strains in uniquely varying ways. It can be chalked up to a few scientific reasons why this is so, all of which will be overviewed in the following informational blog. Read on below to learn more.
Some people may have a high propensity to soda or coffee before they really feel a caffeine buzz jolt their system, but for others, one can or cup may be enough to send them over the edge. Ergo, some people may be lightweights with their alcohol and only take two beers to feel tipsy, whereas others may be like the late, great Andre The Giant (figuratively) and last seemingly endlessly before the slightest trace of inebriation sets in. Cannabis is no different; much like any drug, tolerance and sensitivity to it varies differently with every individual.
This is where the ECS comes in, yet again. Though it is an omnipresent force active in every living, breathing mammal, genetics, physical and mental health (both of which will be further elaborated upon below), and chemical alterations can all make these neurotransmitter networks’ properties fluctuate wildly from individual to individual. It’s why certain strains can palliate depression, anxiety, or mental health issues for some, but worsen them for others, why we can tolerate the THC compound content in cannabis without any lethal outcomes, but our pets can’t, and why dosage needs for medicinal cannabis may radically vary. While there are general trends and rules of thumb, they are, at the end of the day, rules of thumb: no two individuals ECS are 100% identical.
Biochemical alterations are elements which, to a degree, can be influenced by our own volition: diet, extraneous drug use, and even prior cannabis use history can all sway how an individual’s ECS reacts to a medical cannabis strain, and these are all elements which are within an individual’s control. That being said, some of it comes down less to a carefully curated deck, but more to a random roll of the dice; the body’s ECS is molded in a myriad of ways by hereditary genetic factors, largely out of our hands.
Some of the adverse mental health effects of cannabis, for instance (namely pertaining to anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and psychosis), may be attributed to a single gene variation. Such variations have also been linked to level of lucidity through cannabis highs, and in about 1/5th of Americans, higher cannabinoid content than average. In the grand scope of medicine, this research is in it’s relative infancy (beginning with Raphael Mecholaum’s findings in the 1960s), but what we do know so far sparks undeniable promise and excitement.
Biological males and biological females naturally possess innate hormonal differences from birth, perhaps most evidently in testosterone and estrogen, but these hormonal differences also interplay with cannabis in a multitude of intricate, nuanced, beneficial, or more detrimental ways. For instance, the female brain has been observed to have higher cannabinoid density than the male brain, meaning that they have increased cannabinoid sensitivity, but interestingly, males are typically more susceptible to feeling the effects of munchies (increased appetite following a cannabis high) than women.
At the moment, little is known about exactly why this is so, but research literature has illuminated an interesting overview of cannabis’ interactions with sexual health. Given the psychoactive compound THC’s intimate relationship with estrogen, potent cannabis reactions are naturally strengthened through female ovulation, when hormone levels reach their utmost peak. Conversely, older studies have posited the argument that marijuana contributes to sperm count decline in men, but now that researchers have the freedom to experiment with sober human ECS models, newer research has indicated the contrary, with one recent Harvard study observing a notable 38% increase in sperm concentration.
The entire purpose of the Endocannabinoid System is to serve as a stepping stone to move the body closer toward homeostasis, balance, and equilibrium. Obviously, those who suffer from chronic illness (whether physical or psychological) will not have the standard healthy baseline of balance that people who don’t have these disorders will possess.
Rather than bring forth a discombolating high, the cannabis will be more likely to move these individual’s conditions closer to normalcy, and we believe that all people should have the privilege to experience this normalcy, free of suffering. If you live in Canada, we highly implore that you get started by visiting our Shop page, and ordering a product that’s right for you.