Whether you are using medicinal cannabis for the first time, you have used medicinal cannabis for years, or you are still doing your research before filling you medicinal cannabis prescription for the first time, one thing is certain: There is a lot to choose from.

It can be overwhelming in today’s society to see literally hundreds of different names and categories of cannabis available on the market. Depending on which company you are looking at, the names, categories, percentages and even the origins can all be different and can even be interchangeable from one company to another. This makes straightforward information regarding medicinal cannabis hard to come by.

If we break it down to the very basic concepts of cannabis, we can gain a clearer understanding as to what it is exactly we are looking for when it comes to purchasing the right “type” of medicinal cannabis for you.

Although there are many different types of cannabis available today, if you could simplify by tracing all strains back to the basics they would fall under two main categories: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica.

While there is still much research to be done on the subject, we have a general understanding of the differences in the origins of the strains.

You may have seen come licensed producers label certain types of cannabis as a “Sativa strain” or “Indica dominant.” If you haven’t a clue what a sativa or an indica is, that information will be of very little use to you, and would not help you in deciding which type of medicinal cannabis would work best for you.

The medical properties in an indica strain differ greatly from a sativa strain, and vice versa. Knowing how these differences will impact you is a key to determining which strain is a good fit for you.

Cannabis Indica: Indica strains are generally  can relax muscles and can also help with pain by working as a somewhat analgesic in general. Higher CBD Indica strains have been known to be an effective anti-inflammatory and thus, are often recommended for long standing pain.

Indica strains of medicinal cannabis are also well known for helping those who struggle to fall asleep because of its somewhat sedative effect. People who use Indica strains will often report drowsiness, full body relaxation, decrease in pain, increased appetite and improved quality of sleep. The feeling is reported to be a full bodied, heavy, relaxation as well as sleepiness. This strain would be better suited for end of day use, or for someone who does not drive or operate heavy machinery through the day. This effect can be beneficial for a variety of medical problems.

Appearance wise, indica plants will usually look different from sativa plants also. The leaf of an Indica plant tends to have much broader, fuller-looking leaves. The plant itself tends to be shorter than its counterpart, and will also appear a deeper green.

Indica plants originate from countries such as Morocco and Tibet. These plants will produce buds that are rather dense looking.

Cannabis Sativa: Sativa strains of cannabis are quite different from its Indica counterpart. Sativa strains are well known for causing a euphoric effect and having an impact on a person’s mood and stress levels. Sativa strains have also been known to work by distracting a person from their pain and medical condition. Sativa is known to give an energetic, uplifting feeling.

Sativa plants are taller plants that are a light, pale green in color. Sativa plants have also been known to change color slightly depending on the environment they are grown in. Sativa plants have been known to have a more red color when grown in warmer temperatures, and a more purple hue when grown in colder temperatures.

Its leaves are long and narrow. Sativa plants take longer to flower than an Indica plant would. Most producers are able to grow and harvest a mature Sativa plan in approximately 12 weeks under perfect conditions. These plants originate from places with a warmer climate, like Mexico and South Asia.

Cannabis Hybrid: Hybrid strains are exactly as they sound-a hybrid of both Indica and Sativa strains. This is done through a crossbreeding process that allows the grower to determine the characteristics of the strain. Hybrids vary in their composition as well as their effects. You will often see a hybrid strain labeled as “mostly indica” or “sativa dominant”. This just tells the consumer what the majority of the inherited characteristics will be for this hybrid strain.

Hybrid strains will also vary in appearance, again depending on the dominant characteristics. Some will be short and bushy plants and some will be tall plants. The average growing time and harvest time will also vary with most hybrid strains.

Lastly, it is difficult to determine the effects of all hybrid strains as there are so many possibilities. Depending on the blend of cannabinoids (THC and CBD) and the trait dominance in each strain, a hybrid strain could be used for a number of medical conditions. At the same time however, a hybrid strain can also not be the best fit for all medical conditions.

It is important to understand the origins of the medicinal cannabis before using it to help manage your medical condition. There are thousands of strains available in today’s society, and the numbers are growing every day. By understanding the basics of medicinal cannabis you are better equipping yourself for this journey towards a better quality of life.