If you’ve never bought marijuana online before, you may not know what you’re looking for. And even if you’re not shopping for the first time, you may be hoping to improve what you’ve been getting. Choosing the right strain is key to making the perfect choice.

When it comes to the medical benefits of marijuana, cannabinoids and terpenes are the two compounds in any strain of Cannabis that produce the effects you’re looking for. Cannabinoids are the compounds that do most of the heavy medical lifting, while terpenes modulate their effects. In fact, there are more than 80 cannabinoids that we know of already, even though you’ve probably only heard of one: THC.

Each cannabinoid like THC has a unique molecular structure that bonds within the human brain or body. Because there are so many different cannabinoids and so much possible interplay from strain to strain, it’s no simple task choosing the strain that’s perfect for you as you buy weed online. Here are some tips for getting it right—and remember to contact us or your known budtender with questions.

You can start from the basic Indica/Sativa distinction as you begin. Understand that all strains are part of a large spectrum of effects, but that overall the Indica strains will fall on the more sedating and relaxing end, while the Sativa strains will fall on the more energizing and mood-enhancing end. As you consider this spectrum, as yourself which end you’re hoping to fall on; if you really want some of both, then “hybrid” might be your answer.

Moving forward, consider your symptoms and needs in these categories in closer detail: pain management, anxiety, mood and energy, and sleep.

Pain management

One of the most common reasons people use medical marijuana is to cope with pain. Whether it’s acute or chronic, pain from burns, cramps, fibromyalgia, headaches, inflammation, muscle soreness, neuropathic pain, spinal injury, and even cancer can be treated with medical marijuana. How successful you are with treating your pain depends on your condition, your physiology, and the types of medical marijuana you try.

Because different cannabinoids and terpenes bond with different parts of the body and brain, they “specialize” with different types of pain. Even so, each person’s pain management is different, so trying what works person for someone else with the same condition isn’t always a sure thing. Be ready to experiment and find the best combination for you.

Also, the right delivery system matters, and this is also very personal. Vaping and smoking are excellent for quick delivery of pain relieving compounds, but there are a full range of non-smoking methods including concentrate and consumption alternatives available to you.

So, what makes medical marijuana so effective against pain? There are multiple cannabinoids that fight pain in the human body. THC binds with the body’s pain receptors, which is why strains that contain THC are useful for cancer patients. CBD, another cannabinoid, reduces inflammation and pain, and does not produce an intoxicating effect. It does, however, work together with THC and other cannabinoids to restore tissue and fight pain.

Overall, pain management patients typically get the best results from strains that contain multiple pain-relieving cannabinoids. Look for strains with CBD, CBG, CBN, and THC to maximize your chances of staying pain-free. There are many strains that offer these cannabinoids, so you can achieve a more or less relaxing effect along with your pain relief depending on your goals.

Anxiety

The reasons that medical marijuana helps pain and anxiety are actually very similar. THC binds with receptors in the amygdala that are responsible for producing feelings anxiety and stress, which is why it relieves those feelings. This is partially why it helps chronic pain, too; it helps patients tolerate pain as they experience it.

However, there is more to the story when it comes to fighting anxiety. Chronic trauma and stress can reduce your body’s ability to produce endocannabinoids naturally. This in turn leads to deeper and more prolonged periods of anxiety. THC at lower doses helps because it fills the void, reducing your anxiety as it stands in for your natural endocannabinoids.

At higher doses, though, THC can reduce the efficiency of your cannabinoid receptors, so anxiety sufferers should seek out strains with higher CBD levels and lower THC levels. CBD also reduces anxiety, and moderates the effects of THC.

Mood and energy

In general, Sativa strains are a better choice for improving mood and energy. This is in part because Indica strains are more sedating. It is also because Sativa strains usually contain more THC.

THC is marijuana’s primary psychoactive component. This doesn’t mean THC makes you freak out and see trails! It just means that THC is more likely to make you think outside the box and experience more energy.

If social anxiety is your issue, look for Sativa strains that will help you engage in conversation and feel more relaxed and happier. However, remember to choose Sativa strains that do not have especially high levels of THC. At very high levels THC can make your anxiety worse, so look for a good balance with CBD, and make sure you stick to THC levels less than 18 percent as a rule of thumb to avoid feelings of increased anxiety and even paranoia.

Sleep

For people struggling with sleep apnea or chronic insomnia, medical marijuana can be a life saver. Drugs like Ambien can have unpredictable and highly unpleasant side effects, and medical marijuana is a pleasant, natural alternative.

How well a particular strain of medical marijuana induces sleep depends on its cannabinoids, just as you’d expect by now. Indica and Indica-dominant hybrids are best for inducing sleep in predictable ways. The cannabinoid CBN in particular should be on your list as you search for your sleep-inducing strain.
CBN is actually produced as Cannabis degenerates, so you can sometimes produce it by drying your Cannanis, preferably in the sun. The idea is to allow THCa to turn into CBNa and then CBN when it is heated and consumed instead of THC when consumed. Still, since only a lab can tell you for sure how much success you’re having with this method, it’s best to choose a strain with a naturally higher level of CBN.