CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 140 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It’s currently of great interest to many researchers and patients thanks to its wide range of therapeutic benefits. While we’re still discovering just how extensive those are, we know CBD can:
- Reduce inflammation
- Mitigate negative side effects of THC
- Act as a neuroprotectant
- Help manage epilepsy and seizures
- Relieve pain
- Inhibit endocannabinoid uptake
One way to maximize CBD’s therapeutic potential is to smoke or vaporize cannabis strains that are high in CBD. Prospective patients can also revel in the fact that some strains have been developed exclusively to treat a particular type of patient or condition.
Knowing which CBD flower is right for you, however, can make all the difference.
What to consider when selecting CBD flower
Hemp vs higher THC strains
One of the first things to consider when searching for your “just right” CBD flower is its THC content. As the legality of CBD is still in flux this largely depends on your location.
In locations where narcotic varieties of cannabis aren’t legalized you may be able to access hemp. Hemp and cannabis flowers are, incidentally, the same thing; the only differences are that the amount of THC in hemp is regulated, the botanical structure varies, and narcotic varieties have higher cannabinoid and terpenoid concentration. In the United States hemp must contain no more than 0.3% THC¹² while it’s no more than 0.2% THC in the EU¹³. Some countries also offer exemptions such as the UK, which has allowed doctors to prescribe cannabis to those with an “exceptional clinical need” since November of 2018.
You’ll ultimately encounter a range of different THC-to-CBD ratios as you test out various strains. And because everyone’s chemistry is so different you’ll probably have to experiment a little to find what works for you. Many patients find a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD to be helpful while others prefer ratios with less THC like a 20:1 CBD to THC.
Another element to carefully consider when selecting CBD flower is its terpene profile. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds within cannabis that are believed to give different cultivars their distinct effects. For instance the popular strain Blue Dream is often thought to have creative, energetic effects, likely due to its high content of pinene and limonene. Pinene is a terpene known for its focused cerebral properties while limonene is sometimes referred to as “nature’s antidepressant” and can have euphoric effects.
Being able to examine a cultivar’s terpene profile is the most reliable indicator of how that flower will affect you. You can also use a flower’s terpene profile to help you select the right strain for you.
You can search for terpene profiles of popular CBD flowers online.
Industrial hemp is often considered to be a good way to begin experimenting with cannabis as its cannabinoid content is fairly mild. Narcotic hemp, on the other hand, will be far more potent than your standard industrial varieties.
Patients should also strongly consider the consistency of their source when selecting CBD flowers. Environmental conditions can create huge variations in batches, so much so that while one batch may be medicinal the next may not be as successful.
“It’s difficult to make predictions on cannabinoid concentrations by variety name. A variety grown in Oregon is likely to be very different from the same variety grown in Colorado because there are so many factors that influence which cannabinoids and terpenes are produced…the amounts vary depending on the humidity, exposure to UV light, whether it’s grown indoors or outdoors, when it is harvested, etc.”-Dr. Patricia Frye, Chief Medical Officer at HelloMD
One good way to keep track of consistency is to get a certificate of analysis (CoA) for your CBD flower. A CoA is a lab result that will break down the various concentrations of cannabinoids and other compounds in the plant. You can then use this as a baseline, tracking any changes in batches carefully as you note differences in effect. This is also why medical products need to be consistent as small changes in a batch’s cannabinoid/terpene profile can result in different effects for patients.
Popular Strains High In CBD
A Cannatonic phenotype, ACDC is beloved by patients on account of its high CBD and low THC content. This is typically expressed as a staggering 20:1 CBD to THC ratio. The East Fork Cultivars version of this strain contains up to 6% terpenes. You can view the CoA for the latest batch here.
Listed medicinal uses: Inflammation, pain, anxiety, stress.
Produced by Tikun Olam, Avidekel is a CBD-rich strain with almost no THC. It’s the brand’s most researched and awarded strain that can be used during the day or at night.
THC content: < 1%
CBD content: 16-19%
Terpene profile: Beta-Myrcene, Alpha-Pinene, Limonene, Beta-Pinene, Guaiol
Listed medicinal uses: Tikun Olam suggests that patients with Crohn’s disease and other digestive disorders, arthritis, autism, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, migraines, pain & inflammation, and seizures may find relief using Avidekel.
Developed by crossing Sour Diesel and NYC Diesel, this flower is one of several CBD-rich strains grown by East Fork Cultivars. It typically has a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio and contains a generous 3-5% of terpenes. View its CoA here.
THC content: <1%
CBD content: 16-18%
Terpene profile: Myrcene, Terpinolene, Ocimene, Caryophyllene
Listed medicinal uses: The digital healthcare platform HelloMD states that Sour Tsunami is used to help with “seizures, anxiety, muscle spasms and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.” Leafly users report it helps with pain, stress, anxiety, depression and inflammation.
The offspring of a White Widow and Skunk #1 cross, Shark Shock is produced by Redecan and often expresses a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of CBD to THC.
THC content: 2.0 – 5.0%
CBD content: 6.0 – 9.0% CBD
Terpene profile: Myrcene, Ocimene, Terpinolene and Trans-Caryophyllene.
Listed medicinal uses: Pain, anxiety, inflammation.
“Midnight” is Tikun Olam USA’s 1:1 CBD to THC cultivar. This strain is said to be clear headed and functional, making it a good choice or day or nighttime use. Expect a typical cannabinoid content of up to 12% THC/CBD.
THC content: 8-12%
CBD content: 8-12%
Terpene profile: Beta-Myrcene, Limonene, Linalool, Alpha-Pinene
Listed medicinal uses: Tikun Olam suggests that patients with anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, muscle/joint pain, PTSD, and tremors may find relief when using Midnight.
A hybrid cross of Harle-Tsu and ACDC, Ringo’s Gift is a CBD-dominant flower that’s very low in THC. The East Fork Cultivars version of this strain typically contains less than 2% THC and up to 17% CBD. You can view the CoA for the latest batch here.
THC content: 0.5-1.5% THC
CBD content: 15-17% CBD
Terpene profile: Myrcene, Pinene, Farnesene 2, Caryophyllene, Pinene
Listed medicinal uses: Leafly users report Ringo’s Gift helps with pain, stress, anxiety, inflammation and depression.
THC content: 6-8%
CBD content: 9-11%
Terpene profile: Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Selinadiene, Humulene
Listed medicinal uses: Data sourced from Leafly consumers suggests patients with arthritis, PTSD, epilepsy, neurological disorders, and cancer symptoms benefit from consuming Pennywise
THC content: <1%
CBD content: Up to 11-12%
Terpene profile: Beta-Myrcene, Alpha-Bisabolol, Guaiol, Trans-Caryophyllene, Alpha-Pinene
Listed medicinal uses: Pain, inflammation, anxiety
Different Methods of Consumption
There’s more than one way to consume high CBD varietals. Aside from smoking, another way to reap the benefits of CBD flowers is to experiment with the different forms of CBD products available. Such products can include utilizing vaporizers as well as oils/edibles.
Whenever you experiment with different consumption methods it’s best to always keep the entourage effect in mind. The entourage effect is a term used to denote the idea that cannabinoids and terpenes work better together rather than in isolation.
This means actively searching for products that are ideally full spectrum. A full spectrum product contains all of the various cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found in the cannabis plant. Other products may be broad spectrum, a term used to denote the presence of all compounds except for THC.
Purchasing CBD Oil
The non-profit group Center For Food Safety also recently published a hemp scoring guide. Four companies received an ‘A’ grade: Fountain of Health CBD, Green Gorilla, Palmetto Harmony and RE:Botanicals.
Purchasing Cannabis Vapes
Vaporizing cannabis flower is one of the best ways to reap the maximum health benefits to offer as this method does not rely on combustion and produces no smoke. The low temperature also preserves terpenes, providing a richer experience.
Choosing the right cannabis vape, however, should be done with care. Be sure that every product you purchase has been tested by a third party and is free of toxins, pesticides, or mold.
CO2-extracted cannabis cartridges are also ideal as these do not require a solvent and yield some of the cleanest cannabis concentrates. Avoid any products with artificial flavorings, thinning agents or preservatives as well as cartridges made with fractionated coconut oil (MCT).
If it is available, only purchase legal cannabis, as illegal “street” cartridges are unregulated and can contain toxic compounds like Vitamin E acetate.