As of 2012, herbs are now legal for medical purposes in seventeen of the United States, as well as in the District of Columbia. Although the use of herbs for any purpose at all (whether recreational or therapeutic) has often been looked down upon the past, with the change in legislation can often come a change in public opinion. Ingesting herb for medical reasons is becoming more and more acceptable.
The practical results of this, however, is that there are now many herb users who are not familiar with the use of herbs. It can be difficult to know where to start. Dispensaries carry a wide variety of products, but to begin with, we'll take a look at two basic distinctions. First, there is the distinction between edible and smokable herb products. Second, there is the distinction between the two broad varieties of cannabis plant.
Edible (or even drinkable) cannabis products are sometimes popular with new herb users, or with those who in general prefer not to smoke. Many edible herb products are sweets, such as cookies, brownies, and fudge. For those who prefer not to eat too many sweets, herb is also available in capsule form. You may even be able to find instant hot chocolate or instant coffee or mocha products with herb content. In any event, most or all edible medical herb products sold in dispensaries will contain information as to the amount of active ingredient they contain.
Speaking broadly, the two types of cannabis plant are usually called indica and sativa. To a certain degree, the effect of each variety is dependent on the disposition and physiology of the person ingesting it, but the varieties and their effects can be loosely characterized as follows. Sativa plants are tall and their leaves are somewhat sparse. Ingesting the sativa variety of herb tends to produce a sense of optimism and well-being, and some people have found that it is effective for pain relief. The indica plant, on the other hand, is usually short and bushy. Ingesting the indica variety produces a pleasant, sometimes sleepy feeling throughout the body, and can be helpful in relief of widespread body aches and pains, and in relieving insomnia.
Many dispensaries use dispensary cones for smoking. These cones make it especially easy for you to handle your medical herb. The dispensary will fill the cone with a particular strain to help you with your symptoms.
The best way to decide which varieties and forms of herb are best for you is to consult your doctor, or just to try different things to see what works best for treating your particular symptoms.