People’s interest in marijuana has shifted over the last few years. Increasing awareness of the health benefits of the plant has seen more and more people consider marijuana as more than just a recreational drug designed for having a good time.
There are two main cannabinoids found in marijuana: THC and CBD, and it is the former that is responsible for the high that is commonly felt when imbibed, while the latter is associated with the health benefits of marijuana. While THC is great if your reason for consuming marijuana is for its high, these effects can often deter people from partaking for medicinal purposes. The good news is that there are several strains on the market designed for medical use and, as a result, have a low THC content and higher than average levels of CBD.
When choosing a strain, it is important to consider both its THC and CBD content and the effects that these will have on your body, as the two do very different things. A high-THC strain is unlikely to have the medicinal effects that you may have been hoping for, while a high-CBD strain is not going to give you the mind buzz that you might be seeking.
Before we delve into exact strains, let’s take a look at what CBD and THC are.
What Is CBD?
CBD refers to cannabidiol and is a compound found in cannabis; it is the main compound responsible for the health benefits that are associated with cannabis. When seeking a medicinal strain, you should pay close attention to each strain CBD content, as this is going to have the most significant impact on the effects that you feel. While a low CBD strain might be sufficient for treating mild pains and keeping your body generally healthy, you are going to want a much high level of CBD when treating long term conditions.
Cannabinoids are not limited to plants. Our body naturally produces cannabinoids, and it is these cannabinoids that work across our body to help keep used both mentally and physically healthy and balanced. When CBD enters our body, it works alongside these natural cannabinoids binding with CB1 and CB2 receptors and controlling everything from how we feel pain, to our mood. CB1 receptors are located within the brain, and they manage our mental health.
Cannabinoids that bind to CB1 receptors are responsible for our mood, how we handle different emotions, our movements, and how we cope with pain when it occurs. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, can be found within our immune system and control the body’s response to pain and inflammation. CBD works with the naturally occurring cannabinoids in our body to reduce inflammation and treat pain at its source.
Research has shown that CBD has a generally positive impact on our health and can be used as a daily supplement, helping to keep our bodies fit and healthy. CBD can also be used to help with a variety of different conditions. It is important to remember that, while CBD cannot cure these conditions, what it can do is drastically improve the quality of life and make things more manageable.
Paying close attention to the THC and CBD content of a strain is not just crucial for ensuring that your medical needs are met, but also checking that you are not unknowingly consuming large quantities of THC daily. While there is nothing wrong with THC, daily intake when you are not seeking its psychoactive effects can prove to be somewhat annoying after a while. It is all well and good, preventing an epileptic fit or chronic numbing pain. Still if you are left feeling intoxicated and unable to perform daily tasks, you are not exactly improving your quality of life.
High CBD strains tend to have a lower than average THC content, and as a result, psychoactive effects should be minimal. It has even be found that CBD can counter the effects of THC and, when strong enough, completely eradicate its effects.
Now that we understand what CBD is, and the effects that it has, what is THC?
What is THC?
THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol and is the main cannabinoid responsible for the psychological effects that are associated with marijuana. CBD is not the only cannabinoid to bind to CB1 receptors, with THC doing the same only with slightly different effects. THC stimulates a release of dopamine and is the cause of the common euphoric feeling that is experienced during the early stages of most psychoactive highs.
When CB1 receptors are affected by THC, your sense of time and how you process memories is temporarily altered and can often make it feel as though time is passing slower than it is. THC can also alter your coordination and slightly reduce your motor skills. THC increases our ability to feel pleasure and is the reason why everything always seems more enjoyable, and stressful situations feel less daunting.
THC can have adverse side effects, especially when taken in larger quantities, causing anxiety and paranoia. While these effects are normally only temporary, they can cause long term problems and do not make for the best daily medicinal strains. THC is also the cannabinoid responsible for increasing appetite, and the stereotype of that marijuana gives you the munchies. It is also thought that regular doses of THC for those under 18 can cause long-term damage to their health and cognitive development and therefore is not suitable for consistent medical use for children and teenagers.
The reasons for seeking a low-THC strain vary, but some people who have a naturally low THC tolerance find that they experience the adverse effects of a strain much worse than the norm. CBD-dominant strains might be the only way to enjoy marijuana. The average level of THC that you can expect in a hybrid strain is 12%, with anything above 15% being considered a high-THC strain. Levels of less than 10% place a strain in the low-THC category.
Let’s take a look at five of the most popular low THC strains.
#1: Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web is perhaps one of the most famous low-THC strains and was created by The Stanley Brothers, Colorado-based breeders. The strain got its name because it was bred for a little girl called Charlotte with severe epilepsy. Around the time of its creation, there was a great deal of research highlighting the effects that CBD can have on treating epilepsy. It had been suggested that it could offer a solution for those who have found epilepsy medication to have no to little effect.
The problem, especially for young children, was that most strains contain detectable levels of THC, and the potential impact on cognitive development and long-term health outweighed the increased quality of life that could come from CBD. This led to Charlotte’s Web, a strain created with both epilepsy and young children in mind. The strain contains a high level of CBD and less than 0.3% THC. The CBD content of Charlotte’s Web ranges from 15% – 20% and not only makes epilepsy a controllable condition but also counters the minimal amount of THC, preventing it from having an effect.
Charlotte’s Web has been a regular feature in the media and is quickly becoming known as the primary medicinal strain for children. The lack of psychoactive effects have made it one of the most popular strains for patients with epilepsy and has even caused families to travel to Colorado to try the seeming miracle drug on their young children. The use of Charlotte’s Web is not limited to children, with it having wide-reaching health benefits for both children and adults alike.
ACDC is a cross between a ruderalis strain and Cannatonic and has a 1:20 THC to CBD ratio. The strain’s high CBD content has caused it to win a number of awards, including the prestigious Cannabis Cup. With such a high CBD content, this is very much a medicinal strain and has been used to treat several conditions including epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and anxiety. It is also a powerful form of pain relief, able to tackle even the most persistent pain.
The success of ACDC is due to its low-THC content, resulting in it having no intoxicating effects. This means it can be used in much the same way that you would take traditional pharmacy medication. ACDC has a very classic flavor profile with a mix of skunk and sweet fruitiness, making it enjoyable to take in small doses throughout the day.
As well as having many physical health benefits, ACDC helps to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety, clearing your mind and allowing you to enter a peaceful, happy state of calm. It has become one of the most popular strains for treating mental health conditions for patients who have a low THC tolerance or worry that the drug’s psychoactive effects could have a potential negative impact on them.
Harlequin is a 25% indica / 75% sativa blend with a 5:2 ratio of CBD to THC. The average level of CBD found in Harlequin is around 13%, giving it just enough THC for an uplifting boost but keeping the strain’s focus on its health benefits. Harlequin is mainly used as a form of natural pain relief and is especially effective at targeting joint and muscle pain. It is often recommended as a day-time strain because Harlequin heightens your senses, keeping you alert and energetic so that you can make the most of uplifting pain-relieving effects.
When taken in small regular doses, Harlequin is a great source of relief for patients who suffer from chronic pain and conditions such as arthritis. Working to reduce inflammation and tackle pain at its source, the strain has the potential to give you a new lease of life and allow you to stay fit and active.
Harlequin has a fresh mango flavor with a slightly earthy undertone, making it great for small doses around mealtimes. It is often recommended that Harlequin is taken as a daily supplement to prevent long term joint and muscle problems for those who know they are more susceptible to such ailments.
Harle-Tsu was bred purely for medicinal purposes by Southern Humboldt Seed Collective, crossing Harlequin and Sour Tsunami together to make a high-CBD strain that can treat a wide range of health conditions. With a ratio of 20:1 CBD to THC, this is not a strain designed to get you high, but it does act as a slight mood booster alongside its physical health benefits. Laboratory testing has shown Harle-Tsu to have a 1% THC content at its very highest.
The list of conditions that can be treated by Harle-Tsu feels almost limitless and includes depression, insomnia, fatigue, inflammation, stomach issues, and of course, general pain relief. This is the perfect strain if you find yourself struggling to manage stress-induced insomnia, as it allows you to collect and process thoughts calmly and productively, clearer your mind so that you can switch off much more comfortable.
Being a strain that combines both physical and mental health benefits, Harle-Tsu is often used as a supplement to help keep both mind and body balanced.
#5: Stephen Hawking Kush
Stephen Hawking Kush was created by Alphakronik Genes, who crossed Harle-Tsu and Sin City Kush. The strain got its name in part from its link to the Kush family of strains and also due to the intense focus that is felt with just a few puffs, allowing you to think through issues on a much deeper level, supposedly just like Stephen Hawking. This is definitely a much more balanced strain than some of the others on this list, in the sense that it has roughly similar amounts of THC and CBD. At its highest, Stephen Hawking Kush has 10% THC. While this might seem high, the effects of the THC are offset by the CBD and have just enough of an effect to help you focused and alert.
Stephen Hawking Kush has an average CBD content of 14% and sits firmly in the indica-dominant hybrid category. It has a pleasant cherry flavor and aroma with subtle minty notes, giving your taste buds a burst of energy and keeping you alert before its effects even take hold. While Stephen Hawking Kush helps you to stay focused and motivated, its main use is as a form of natural pain relief. It works throughout your body to reduce inflammation, which can lead to more long-term aches and pains disappearing.
Stephen Hawking Kush has also been found to suppress nausea. And, as a result, is often recommended for patients undergoing chemotherapy or similar treatments which can leave you feeling nauseous. The strain’s low THC content makes it the perfect medicinal strain, giving you the much-needed relief that you require while still being able to go about your day as normal with a clear and focused mindset.
Final Thoughts on Low-THC Strains
As the medicinal marijuana market continues to grow, and an increasing number of states legalize medical marijuana, we are sure to see even more low-THC strains flood the market. Growers are continuously working to bred strains with an increased CBD content, looking to push the boundaries of all-natural medication and move away from our reliance on chemically packed pharmaceuticals. Currently, the highest level of CBD that has been achieved is a shockingly high 22.5% with Corazon, but breeders refuse to stop there and are working to break this record.