Exploring the Different Types of Highs

Exploring the Different Types of Highs

All cannabis strains deliver psychoactive effects or a “high,” but the type of high you experience can vary greatly from one strain to another, based on the unique characteristics and dominant terpenes of each strain. Though each strain is unique, there are four basic subsets of highs that you can expect from marijuana, depending on the type you consume: a cerebral “head” high; a body high; an energizing or stimulating high; and a sedating, relaxing high.

In this article, we review several factors that can influence the type of high you’ll experience, before exploring these four different types of highs in-depth, providing everything you need to know so that you can seek the experience that’s best for your medical and recreational needs.

Contributing Factors

There are a variety of factors that can influence the type of high you’ll experience from consuming cannabis. These include whether your strain is an indica or sativa; what its dominant terpenes are; and the delivery format you use to consume cannabis.

Indica Vs. Sativa

Though there are always exceptions, you can typically get a sense of what type of high you’ll experience based on whether your strain is indica or sativa dominant. Indicas and sativas are two subtypes of cannabis that have different effects due to their active botanical compounds.

Typically, indicas tend to deliver a body high that can be more relaxing or sedating; sativas, on the other hand, tend to be more “heady” or cerebral, and often more energizing.

exploring different highs


Part of the reason that indicas and sativas produce different highs is because they differ in terpene content. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give marijuana strains their unique flavors and effects, and the terpene content of any given strain will directly influence the type of high you experience.

Terpenes aren’t determined by indica or sativa alone, and typically vary based on the specific strain you choose. However, there are some general consistencies in indica and sativa terpenes worth noting.

Indica strains typically contain higher levels of myrcene than sativas or sativa hybrids, and this is why they tend to produce more sedating effects. Myrcene is known to relax the muscles, soothe the body, and quiet the mind, which is why indica strains rich in this terpene may deliver more of a body high with sedative effects. This terpene often contributes to the “couchlock” associated with body highs or sedating highs.

Sativas, on the other hand, contain lower concentrations of myrcene, and higher concentrations of uplifting, energizing terpenes such as limonene. Limonene impacts cognition and perception, especially when combined with THC, and tends to result in more cerebral, energizing effects.

Route Of Administration

Another key factor is method of consumption, and depending on whether cannabis is smoked or ingested, the THC it contains may enter the body through different pathways, and produce different effects as a result.

If you’re looking for a head high, smoking or vaping cannabis is your best bet. When cannabis is inhaled, THC moves directly through the lungs and into the bloodstream, crossing the blood-brain barrier to bind with cannabinoid receptors in the brain (CB1 receptors). By binding with CB1 receptors, THC releases a neurotransmitter called anandamide–sanskrit for “the bliss molecule”–which is known to induce euphoria, and to stimulate the release of other neurotransmitters responsible for regulating emotion and cognition. All of these may explain why smoking cannabis creates a “headier” high.

When you ingest marijuana in edible format, THC and other active compounds are processed by the liver instead, and bind with different cannabinoid receptors as a result. As a result, they bypass CB1 receptors more involved in states of consciousness, and bind with different receptors to produce a high that is more physical than cerebral.

But What Are The Four Different Types Of Highs, And What Can You Expect From Each Of Them? We Explore Each Of These Unique Cannabis Experiences Below.

Cerebral “Head” High

A “head high” refers to the psychoactive effects of a strain that are predominantly cerebral, thought-provoking, and psychologically stimulating. Typically, a head high occurs when you feel the effects of marijuana primarily as a state of consciousness, rather than physical sensation.

Head highs are usually thought-provoking, creative, and meditative, and are a popular aspect of strains beloved for their recreational properties. This type of high may result in a more interactive type of cannabis experience, making your surroundings more vivid and invigorating. Head highs are often sociable, giggly, euphoric, and help consumers think “outside of the box.”

Both sativas and indicas can deliver unique head highs, though sativas are generally more cerebral. If you’re looking for a head high, try seeking out strains that are rich in limonene, pinene, and caryophyllene.

Best Strains for Head Highs:

Advantages of Head Highs:

  • Euphoric
  • Creative
  • Motivated
  • Inspired

Cerebral “Head” High

A body high, on the other hand, is more pronounced in terms of physical sensation and relaxation. This type of high is often characterized as tingly, pleasurable, and relaxing, leaving patients feeling content and relaxed. Body highs come without the potential restlessness of head highs, instead leaving consumers feeling extremely content and comfortable in their immediate surroundings, while allowing patients to enjoy relaxing without stressing over unfinished tasks or other distractions.

Strains that deliver body highs are ideal for consumers who are seeking relaxation and stress relief, or for those looking to relieve physical discomfort.

In addition to consuming edibles, you can also seek out a body high by choosing strains that are rich in myrcene, which relaxes the muscles and boosts mood.

Advantages of Body Highs:

  • Less Paranoia
  • Great for Pain Relief
  • Stress-Reducing
  • Physically Pleasurable
  • Relaxing

Best Strains for Body Highs:

Energizing High

Certain marijuana strains can produce predominantly energetic highs. Whether their effects are more physical or cerebral, these strains will energize the body and mind by increasing stamina, motivation, and alertness. Strains that deliver energizing highs often leave consumers feeling uplifted, invigorated, and recharged, and are usually popular for daytime use, or for situations where you’ll want to feel sociable, productive, and clear headed. This type of high comes without the couchlock associated with many indica-leaning strains.

As a general rule, sativas are more prone to produce energetic highs due to their high limonene content. But there are plenty of balanced hybrids, and even indica-dominant strains, that can also deliver energizing, uplifting effects. If you’re seeking an energetic high, look for terpenes such as limonene, pinene, and beta-caryophyllene.

Energizing Strains:

Advantages of Energizing Highs:

  • Productive
  • Increased Stamina
  • Enhanced Alertness & Focus
  • Clear Headed

Sedating High

Other strains deliver more sedating highs, relaxing the body and mind to induce sleepiness, drowsiness, and “couchlock.” Strains that deliver more sedating highs are perfect for evening or nighttime use, calming mind and body alike. These highs typically come from indicas high in myrcene and linalool, which relax the muscles, relieve stress, and facilitate sleep.

Sedating highs are typically associated with indica-dominant hybrids, though there are plenty of exceptions. If you’re seeking a sedating high, keep an eye out for myrcene and linalool, and

particularly when it comes to hybrids. If you’re seeking a sedating high but don’t know where to start, keep an eye out for strains with myrcene and linalool, or strains with higher levels of CBN or CBD.

Advantages of Sedating Highs:

Great for Insomnia
Stress Relief
Muscle Relaxation

Sedating Strains:

Hindu Kush
Granddaddy Purple
Bubba Kush
Forbidden Fruit

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