Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 10, 2023

Choosing the right cannabis strain for medical needs is crucial to ensure you receive the desired therapeutic effects. With a plethora of strains available, each containing different combinations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds, it can be overwhelming to make the right choice.

This post is intended as information and for general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is recommended that you consult a healthcare professional before introducing cannabinoids into your daily routine, especially if you have been diagnosed with any medical conditions or are under any medication. It is not recommended to drive or operate any machinery when using cannabis- or hemp-derived products. Use responsibly!

Understanding Cannabis Strains

To begin, let’s differentiate between cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis. Each cannabis species offers distinct characteristics and effects. Sativa strains are known for their uplifting and energizing properties, making them ideal for daytime use. In contrast, indica strains are more relaxing and sedative, perfect for unwinding in the evening. Ruderalis, though less common, plays a vital role in cannabis breeding due to its auto-flowering traits.

It’s essential to explore the effects associated with sativa, indica, and hybrid strains. Sativa strains are believed to provide a cerebral and creative experience, making them popular among artists and those seeking a mood boost. Indica strains, on the other hand, are renowned for their body-relaxing and pain-relieving properties, making them suitable for managing various medical conditions. Hybrid strains combine the best of both worlds, offering a balanced experience that caters to diverse preferences.

Evidence shows, that distinguishing between “sativa” and “indica” has become almost impossible because of extensive cross-breeding over the last decades. Traditional landraces of sativa and indica are becoming extinct through hybridization, meaning dividing these plants into species does not make sense nowadays.

What does influence the effects that one might be getting are cannabinoid and terpene profiles. THC, the psychoactive compound, is responsible for the characteristic “high” feeling. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and offers a range of therapeutic benefits without intoxicating effects. Terpenes, with their aromatic profiles, not only define the unique smell and taste of each strain but also play a role in shaping its effects.

Identifying Personal Preferences and Goals

Understanding your personal preferences and goals is vital when choosing the right strain. Take some time to reflect on why you’re using cannabis. Are you seeking recreational enjoyment, relief from a specific medical condition, or perhaps a way to enhance creativity? By clarifying your purpose, you can better select a strain tailored to your needs.

Assess your tolerance level and experience with cannabis. If you’re new to cannabis, starting with strains that have lower THC content can help avoid overwhelming experiences. On the other hand, seasoned users might appreciate higher potency strains for a stronger impact.

Setting realistic expectations and understanding desired effects is crucial. Not every strain will produce the same results for everyone. Recognize that individual responses to cannabis can vary based on genetics, metabolism, and personal chemistry. Experimentation might be necessary to find the perfect match for your desired experience.

Considering Medical Needs

For medical users, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before choosing a cannabis strain. Medical conditions and symptoms can benefit from specific cannabinoid-terpene profiles. Additionally, medical users should be mindful of potential drug interactions. Cannabis can interact with certain medications, affecting their efficacy or increasing side effects. Always disclose your cannabis use to your healthcare provider to ensure safe and effective treatment. Here are some steps to guide you in selecting the most suitable strain for your medical needs:

  1. Identify Your Medical Needs. Before anything else, clearly define your specific medical requirements. Are you seeking relief from chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, or other conditions? Understanding your symptoms and desired outcomes will help you narrow down the strains that cater to your needs.
  2. Understand Cannabinoids. The two primary cannabinoids found in cannabis are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects and pain relief, while CBD offers anti-inflammatory and non-psychoactive properties. Different ratios of THC to CBD can produce varying effects, so choose accordingly based on your medical condition.
  3. Research Terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis that contribute to its distinctive flavors and effects. For example, myrcene can promote relaxation, limonene may elevate mood, and pinene might enhance focus. Investigate which terpenes are beneficial for your condition and seek strains with those specific terpenes.
  4. Consult with a Medical Professional. Always consult with a healthcare professional or medical cannabis specialist before using cannabis for medical purposes. They can offer personalized advice and recommendations based on your medical history and current conditions.
  5. Start with Low THC Strains. If you are new to medical cannabis or have a low tolerance to THC, consider starting with strains that have lower THC content. This approach can help minimize any potential adverse effects, such as anxiety or paranoia.
  6. Read Reviews and Testimonials. Online reviews and testimonials from other patients with similar medical conditions can be insightful. Pay attention to their experiences with different strains, as it may give you a better idea of what to expect.
  7. Consider Consumption Methods. Different strains can produce different effects depending on how you consume them—smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, or topicals. Each method can influence the onset and duration of effects, so choose a consumption method that aligns with your preferences and needs.
  8. Experiment and Keep a Journal. Finding the right strain may require some trial and error. Keep a journal to document your experiences with different strains, dosages, and consumption methods. Note the effects, side effects, and overall efficacy for your medical condition. This journal can be a valuable reference in fine-tuning your cannabis treatment plan.
  9. Source from Reputable Dispensaries. Ensure you obtain your cannabis from a licensed and reputable dispensary. This ensures you are getting safe and accurately labeled products, which is essential for medical use.

Remember, everyone’s body chemistry is unique, so what works for one person may not work the same way for another. Patience and persistence are key when navigating the world of medical cannabis. With careful consideration and professional guidance, you can find the right strain that best suits your medical needs and enhances your overall well-being.

Evaluating Flavor and Aroma Preferences

Cannabis Aroma Preferences and Evaluating Flavor Weed

For recreational users, the flavor and aroma of a cannabis strain can significantly enhance the overall experience. Different terpenes contribute to distinct profiles, ranging from fruity and citrusy to earthy and spicy. Consider trying strains with various terpene profiles to discover your preferred flavors and aromas. Selecting the right cannabis strain based on flavor and aroma preferences can greatly enhance your overall experience and enjoyment. Cannabis strains have a diverse range of flavors and aromas, thanks to the presence of various terpenes and other compounds. Here’s how you can evaluate and choose the perfect strain based on these sensory aspects:

  1. Explore Different Terpenes. Terpenes are organic compounds responsible for the unique flavors and aromas of cannabis strains. They also contribute to the entourage effect, where cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce specific effects. Learn about different terpenes and their characteristics to identify the ones you enjoy the most. For instance, if you like citrusy flavors, strains high in limonene might be appealing to you.
  2. Consider Your Preferred Flavors. Think about the flavors you enjoy in other aspects of life, such as fruits, herbs, or spices. Many cannabis strains mimic these flavors. If you have a preference for berry-like flavors, strains with terpenes like myrcene and caryophyllene might be to your liking.
  3. Smell Different Strains. Visiting a dispensary or a cannabis-friendly space can give you the opportunity to smell various strains. The aroma can be a good indicator of the potential flavor, as the terpenes present in the scent also contribute to the taste when consumed.
  4. Read Strain Descriptions. Most reputable dispensaries provide detailed strain descriptions that include flavor and aroma profiles. Utilize this information to narrow down strains that align with your preferences. Online resources and reviews can also be helpful in this regard.
  5. Experiment with Sample Packs. Some dispensaries offer sample packs that contain small quantities of various strains. This allows you to try different flavors without committing to a large purchase. Sample packs can be an excellent way to discover new strains that suit your taste buds.
  6. Take Note of Previous Enjoyable Experiences. If you have tried cannabis strains in the past and found some flavors particularly enjoyable, seek out strains with similar terpene profiles or parent genetics.
  7. Consider the Consumption Method. Keep in mind that the consumption method can influence how flavors and aromas are experienced. For instance, vaporizing might highlight more subtle notes compared to smoking.
  8. Assess Personal Tolerance. Some strains may have strong flavors that not everyone enjoys. Evaluate your personal tolerance for bold tastes and choose strains that align with your comfort level.
  9. Mix and Match. Don’t be afraid to experiment by combining different strains to create your own unique flavor blends. Many cannabis enthusiasts enjoy mixing strains to customize their experience.

Remember, the flavor and aroma of cannabis can be subjective, and what one person finds appealing might not be the same for another. Embrace the exploration process, and be open to trying new strains to discover the ones that resonate with your taste buds. Whether you prefer fruity, earthy, spicy, or herbal flavors, there is a cannabis strain out there to match your preferences and elevate your cannabis experience.

Before choosing a strain, familiarize yourself with the legal status of cannabis in your area. Laws regarding cannabis use and possession vary from region to region and can impact strain availability and access. Always comply with local regulations to ensure a safe and legal cannabis experience.

Exploring Environmental Considerations

For environmentally conscious consumers, consider the strain’s cultivation process and sourcing. Organic and sustainable practices minimize environmental impact and support responsible cannabis production. Some dispensaries or growers prioritize eco-friendly options, so inquire about the cultivation methods when making your selection.


Choosing the right cannabis strain is a personalized process that requires careful consideration of strain types, cannabinoids, terpenes, personal preferences, medical needs, and legal and environmental factors. By understanding these aspects and exploring different strains, you can tailor your cannabis experience to match your goals and desires, ultimately maximizing the benefits of this versatile plant. Happy exploring!