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Should You Be Smoking 1:1 Cannabis Strains?

Most cannabis consumers love THC. But, is there any benefit to being a little less high? Now that more 1:1 strains are hitting the market, herb lovers are getting a taste of the incredible versatility of the cannabis plant. While many high-THC strains and products can be seen as the cannabis equivalent of hard liquor, 1:1 cannabis strains are more like an everyday table wine. Here’s why you should be smoking a 1:1 strain.

What are 1:1 cannabis strains?
Not all strains are the same. In today’s high-tech cannabis world, there are a wide variety of flowers to choose from. The most popular strains are often high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound causes the classic cannabis “high”. Many contemporary hybrids contain 20 percent THC or more, making them strongly psychoactive.

Other strains, however, are high in another dominant cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are the active chemical components of the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound that does not produce a high, is becoming more of a household term these days.

While CBD is generally not thought of as psychoactive, it does have an effect on the brain. CBD boosts mood and relieves anxiety, causing some general feelings of positive well-being. Some strains, like ACDC, can contain up to 20 percent CBD, meaning that they will not produce a mind-altering or overly sedative experience at all.

1:1 cannabis strains fall in between these two extremes, often producing a fairly even ratio of both THC and CBD. These strains are often categorized as high-CBD strains, but these flowers have benefits that CBD or THC dominant strains cannot offer.

It’s rare to find any strain that produces over 30 percent total cannabinoids. 1:1 strains tend to produce anywhere between 5 and 15 percent THC and CBD each.

Why you should be smoking 1:1 strains

There are many reasons why 1:1 strains are downright amazing. Perfect for the day, 1:1 strains don’t produce the same type of cognitive impairments that make high-THC strains famous. Even 1:1 strains categorized as indicas tend to produce a subtle, calm relaxation rather than the deep sedation some types of cannabis can provide.

Perfect for busy professionals or anyone who needs to just take the edge off without drifting too far into a psychoactive experience, 1:1 strains may provide a very slight buzz that is anything but intense or overwhelming.

Ultra high-CBD strains will not provide this slight alteration at all, which is one of the primary reasons CBD buds are not popular among recreational consumers.

Unsurprisingly, 1:1 strains strike the perfect balance between the two. While not completely psychoactive-free, these strains make for great options for those times when you need a lighter, relaxed, and jolly cannabis experience.

Concentrating on mental tasks during the workday is easy with 1:1 strains, as is winding down before a trip home or loosening up muscles before hitting the gym.

Medicinal benefits of 1:1 strains
When it comes to medical cannabis, every individual will have specific needs. While some people may need the heavy-handed effects of THC to manage stress or sleep through the night, others may find that the unique nature of 1:1 strains make a perfect new addition to the medicine cabinet.

Believe it or not, combining THC and CBD may improve the therapeutic effects of both strains. Both cannabinoids work together synergistically to moderate the overall effect of any given strain.

This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect and suggests that cannabinoids work better in combination with one another than they do on their own.

In fact, one pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceuticals, already markets multiple sclerosis drugs, Sativex, which contains a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. When both of these compounds are combined, patients experience enhanced pain control and reduced spasticity. In Canada, Sativex is also available to patients for the treatment of cancer-related pain.

In general, strains that contain a diverse amount of cannabinoids and corresponding aroma molecules (terpenes) are considered some of the most potent cannabis medicines available.

Here are some of the possible effects of combining THC and CBD:

Enhanced pain relief
Little to no THC-induced paranoia
Greater relief from anxiety
Greater relief from depression
Less sedation
Little cognitive impairment
Enhanced relief from muscle contractions and convulsions
What strains produce a 1:1 ratio?

Many strains considered high-CBD have the capability to produce a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. However, some are more likely to create to produce even cannabinoid ratios than others. Some common 1:1 cannabis strains include:

One to One
Sour Tsunami
Stephen Hawking Kush

Finding The Optimal Therapeutic Ratio Of THC And CBD

In last week’s post, we explored the entourage effect and how all the compounds within the cannabis plant work together to give the plant its therapeutic versatility. But one question remains in minds of many medical cannabis patients: “what is the optimal ratio of cannabinoids for my needs?” The answer, like many questions in the world of medicine, is still being researched.
Given the fact that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two most prominent chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, the vast majority of research to date has focused on the ratio of these two cannabinoids. While the ability to control cannabinoid ratios within your own medicine remains limited, the information provided here will hopefully give you some insight into the future of cannabis-based therapy.
THC and CBD: The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship
Research on the benefits of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in isolation is well established. THC demonstrates analgesic, anti-emetic, and anti-inflammatory properties, whereas CBD possesses anti-psychotic, anti-seizure, and anti-anxiety properties.
“Subjects reported more pleasurable effects and less anxiety with the combination of CBD and THC than they felt with THC alone.”
However, research on the simultaneous use of THC:CBD is less robust – its origins can be traced to Brazil in the mid-1970s. In this study, patients were given between 15-60mg of CBD in conjunction with 30mg of THC, and the effects were measured. Subjects reported more pleasurable effects and less anxiety with the combination of CBD and THC than they felt with THC alone.
CBD thcFurthermore, a group of scientists examined the effects of administering CBD at a dose six times that of THC. They found that 73% of study participants reported a decreased feeling of being “high” when compared to THC alone.
Follow-up studies have demonstrated that the combination of the two cannabinoids reduced users’ experiences of tachycardia (increased heart rate), gait instability, and difficulty in eye tracking exercises. These results support the theory that CBD works to minimize some of the negative side effects of THC.
Modern Therapeutic Applications Of The Cannabinoid Ratio
The most recent research into THC:CBD ratios comes out of the pharmaceutical industry, specifically around the GW Pharmaceuticals‘ Sativex, which has a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD. In the clinical trials phase of drug development, researchers examined the effects of THC, CBD, and combination extracts on sleep, pain control, and muscle spasms. They found that 1:1 THC-CBD extracts provided the most therapeutic relief across all categories.
THC and CBD combinations also show therapeutic promise across a number of disease states for which there has been a limited therapeutic breakthrough to date.
In Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), THC has been shown to delay motor deterioration and increase long-term survival. Recent work has built on this study to show that the addition of CBD in conjunction with THC leads to a 14% increase in motor performance and an increase in survival beyond the survival rates with THC alone.
In cancer, cannabis has long been credited with helping people combat nausea associated with chemotherapy. Furthermore, THC and CBD each possess cytotoxic (cell-destroying) and anti-angiogenic (prevention of development of new blood vessels) properties. These two properties are critical to combating the spread of cancer within the body, making whole-plant cannabis extracts a viable medical option.
Practical Implications For Medical Marijuana Patients
As it stands, there is still an overwhelming trend towards favoring one cannabinoid over another. Due to the federal prohibition in the US, the vast majority of cannabis is grown indoors. Additionally, historical patient demand has pushed cultivators to favor strains with higher THC.
Thus the typical products in your local dispensary will have THC:CBD ratios as high as 20:1 for flowers and 80:1 for concentrates. However, given the emergence of CBD into the public consciousness, more people are considering cannabinoid ratios.
“Standardized testing is essential to the advancement of our understanding of this issue.” – Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather
Dr. Jeffery Hergenrather, President of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, addressed the issue of cannabinoid ratios as follows:
“While cannabinoid ratios in most cannabis may be about the same, it is the terpene content which typically creates the different qualities that we have parsed as the difference between Indicas and Sativas for some time. It is highly likely that terpenes may very well alter the properties of the cannabinoids. Standardized testing is essential to the advancement of our understanding of this issue.”
Overall, we are still very much in the infancy of our understanding of the therapeutic potential of cannabis. But it is important as we move forward to be inclusive of whole-plant cannabis medicine in our policy making and not hold some cannabinoids in higher esteem than others. To do otherwise could leave a lot of sick people without viable medical solutions.
Photo Credit: Bubble Man