There are more than 1,000 different marijuana strains on the market today. Each is unique, offering its own aroma, flavour, and effects. When weed users choose a strain to try, they consider many things: chief among them are the effects they want to experience.
Experienced cannabis users know cannabis is known for offering two different types of highs: body highs and head highs.
But, what exactly is the difference between a head and a body high? What causes each, and what feelings or experience you’ll get from each? Let us take a look.
Sativa Vs. Indica Vs. Hybrids
The type of high users experience has a lot to do with their strain of choice (and how they consume marijuana, but we’ll get to that later).
When choosing strains, the first thing users will need to look at is whether the plant is considered an indica or sativa plant. The two plants offer distinct highs and even have different looks.
Sativa plants have a tall, slim appearance with long and thin leaves. These plants offer what is known as a head high. Some suggest sativa helps increase alertness, improve mood, and even boost the energy of its users. Because of its generally stimulating effects, it is best to use sativa during the daytime when you have time before you need to rest.
Indica plants are shorter and bushier than their sativa counterparts. They have leaves that are short and wide and offer users a body high. Indica plants may promote feelings of relaxation, ease pain, and can even cause drowsiness or couch lock. Because of their relaxing properties, indicas are best for nighttime use.
However, the majority of cannabis plants fall into a third category: hybrids. These plants were created by crossing indica and sativa plants to give users specific effects from each plant. But, unless the plants are a 50/50 split, they will be labelled as indica-dominant or sativa-dominant to reflect which plant type is the majority.
THC and CBD
In addition to the type of plant you are planning to use, there are two compounds users need to know the effects of before trying marijuana.
Each marijuana flower is made up of more than 100 compounds called cannabinoids. Of these, there are two that science knows a fair amount about: THC and CBD.
THC is known for having a bit of a sedative effect. It is also the compound responsible for the high feeling weed users experience. Indica strains tend to have slightly higher concentrations of THC, which is partially why this type of cannabis plant is known for its full-body effects.
CBD, or cannabidiol, can be found in higher concentrations in sativa plants. CBD helps promote relaxation and calm, but it does not get users high. In fact, it is often used to temper the effects of THC to provide users with a more balanced high.
Consumption Methods Impact Your High
As everyone knows, there are many ways to ingest marijuana. Although smoking weed via a joint and a vape pen are two of the most common ways to do so, they are not the only ways.
Cannabis edibles, marijuana oils, and dab are all ways users can ingest marijuana.
But, just like the strain can impact your effects, so can the way marijuana is consumed.
When weed is smoked, the cannabinoids go straight to the lungs, often leading users to experience more of a head high. Marijuana consumed via something like an edible has to pass through the liver and be processed by the body, offering users more of a body high.
Because both the kind of strain and method of consumption impact the type of high users will experience, strains are capable of offering both highs, but the type and consumption method may indicate what type of high will be more present for users.
Head Highs and Their Effects
So, now that we understand what can trigger a head high versus a body high, let’s take a look at how the two differ for users.
Users have often described head highs as “trippy and fun.” Creativity will flow, and users will start to feel they have sharpened senses and an increased ability to focus.
In short, those experiencing a head high are quite capable of accomplishing high functioning physical and mental activities. In fact, it may even help improve your performance in these areas.
The times when users may wish to experience a head high include:
- When users need help clearing their minds so they can focus.
- When struggling to finish a project.
- When needing to focus on learning a new task.
Body Highs and Their Effects
A body high provides effects that are vastly different than head highs.
Users experiencing a body high can feel like the ultimate body melt. Muscles will start to relax, and users may find themselves starting to feel sleepy. Combined, these two effects can cause a sensation known as couch lock, in which users cannot seem to get up because they are relaxed and ready to simply veg out.
A body high is described as providing a relaxing experience that goes all the way from a person’s fingers to the toes.
While head highs can increase productivity and allow marijuana users to maintain their ability to function, body highs are different. In fact, smokers often become less functional when experiencing a body high and may even become a bit clumsy.
A full-body high can be beneficial or preferred when users want to:
- Relax after a long day.
- Manage stress that can cause muscle tightness.
- Bliss all the way out and even get some rest.
Strains That Offer Head Highs
Choosing a strain known for offering head highs can be overwhelming. With thousands to choose from, where should you start? Below, we offer some suggestions on strains providing users with a head high to help you get started.
- Super Sour Diesel. This strain is claimed to provide mentally stimulating effects, perfect for those needing some creative inspiration. With hints of diesel, lemon, and even black pepper, Super Sour Diesel is popular among many smokers.
- Stardawg. This particular strain is extremely potent, making it a less than ideal choice for those who are new to marijuana. But, experienced users can expect Stardawg to provide uplifting effects and a boost of energy. It will keep the mind busy, but the body still.
- Island Sweet Skunk. Sometimes referred to as Sweet Island Skunk, this strain is a great mood booster. Users can expect to have a smile on their faces after using it. Island Sweet Skunk may also help open up people’s minds, perfect for those needing creative inspiration.
Strains That Offer Body Highs
Perhaps you aren’t looking for creative inspiration but rather want to slow your mind down and experience more of a full-body high. Consider trying the following marijuana strains:
- Northern Lights. A popular indica strain, Northern Lights is known for providing an intense sensation of body relaxation for users. This particular strain provides a noticeable effect on the mind, too, making it a good choice for users who want to relax but still need to get a few things done.
- Original Glue. Sometimes called Gorilla Glue #4, the “glue” part of its names is very fitting. This strain offers full-body relaxation, so much so that people may feel “glued” to their couch after taking it. If you are looking for overall mind and body relaxation, Original Glue is for you.
- Mr. Nice. This strain was popular many years ago but has recently had a resurgence. While popular for its full-body effects, Mr. Nice also offers a bit of a gentler experience than other more potent strains. It is a good option for marijuana user newbies who want a full-body high.
Which High Is Best for Me?
Head highs and body highs come with their own unique effects. So, which one is best for you? That’s really a matter of choice and preference.
When choosing a marijuana strain to try, it’s important to know the effects you hope to achieve, as this will determine the type of strain you want to try. Try different types of cannabis (indica plants, sativa plants, or hybrids) to see what one, or combination in the case of hybrids, gives you the best experience.
Remember that everyone’s body processes marijuana a little differently. The effects someone else experiences may not be the exact ones you will have. As you work to find your sweet spot and the perfect high, remember to increase doses slowly and allow plenty of time for the marijuana you consumed to take effect.
What to Do If You Don’t Like Your High
Because everybody experiences different marijuana strains differently, some users may find themselves in a high that is too much or that they don’t like. Or, perhaps the strain they tried was a bit more powerful than anticipated, leaving users with a “bad high.”
Fortunately, you have options if this happens to you. You aren’t stuck dealing with adverse effects until the product is out of your system. There are things you can try to help come down from a bad or difficult high.
- Don’t panic. When smoked, cannabis effects will likely start to wear off in a few hours. When experiencing a bad or intense high, stay calm and remind yourself you will feel better soon. Panicking can cause the symptoms to worsen, so remind yourself out loud not to panic and remain calm.
- Drink water and eat some snacks. Not only can this combat side effects like dry mouth and increased appetite (also known as the munchies), this provides you with a simple task to focus on. Eating or drinking something can help users feel more grounded. This is important when trying to come down (or calm down) from a bad high.
- Take a rest. Find a calm, quiet place you can lay down and relax. Take deep breaths, and you may start to feel drowsy (especially if you’ve taken an indica strain). Allow yourself to drift off. When you wake up, you will likely feel much better.
- Distract yourself. Listen to some music, put on a movie, talk to someone, or even try an adult colouring book to give your brain something else to focus on.
- Try some CBD products. CBD is known for tempering the effects of THC and is a great agent for relieving anxiety. If you are on a bad high, pop a CBD gummy or another product to help temper the effects you are experiencing and keep yourself calm.
The key to avoiding a bad high or an unexpectedly powerful high is to know your limits. When trying a new strain, start with a low dose and gradually increase it as you feel comfortable. Be sure to allow time for the marijuana product to take effect, so you don’t end up overdosing by accident.
Body and head highs offer marijuana users two distinct experiences. Which type of high users can anticipate experiencing is driven by a few factors, including:
- The type of strain and the type of plant used to create it
- The consumption method of marijuana
A head high is characterized by effects such as a better mood, an energy boost, and an improved ability to focus. Head highs provide users with creative inspiration and high that will allow them to continue to function throughout their day.
A body high, however, is often more relaxing and even sedative. Users will feel relaxed from their fingers to their toes and may even find themselves so relaxed they cannot get up off the couch. Body highs are ideal for when people are ready to bliss out and get some rest after a long day.
Whether a body high or a head high is better is a matter of preference. Users may need to experiment with some to find the perfect blend for them.