Cannabinoids – What Makes Them Medicinal?
How can cannabis be good for us?
After all, this is the same substance most of us grew up being warned against in the War on Drugs right? Marijuana, otherwise known as cannabis, weed or any other number of slang terms, was supposed to be “evil” and not to be used or abused. Even as adults, given what we now know about the plant, we might still find the idea of “cannabis as medicine” a bit odd.
But what is it about this plant that gives it it’s medicinal properties? With new research emerging on what seems like a weekly basis, this plant’s medicinal properties have certainly piqued the interest of the medical and scientific community alike.
With minimal side effects, natural sourcing, and number of ways users could potentially take the “medicine” such as vaping, drops, or even topical, this plant holds quite a bit of promise.
In order to find out why cannabis holds medical potential we have to look into a little bit of botany and a little neurochemistry (but don’t worry, we won’t get too scientific on you).
Cannabis and Cannabinoids
Cannabis refers to any of the followingthree species of plants:Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, andCannabis ruderalis. The classification of cannabis can also be used when referring to any of the many hybrids made by crossing and re-crossing those three. Wild cannabis produces a group of chemicals called cannabinoids, largely as protection against insect pests.
Some cannabinoids also have the ability to have a psychotropic effect on the human mind, while others do not. Hemp is a domesticated cannabis with very low levels of the most famous cannabinoid, THC, having been bred for production of fiber and edible seed. Other cannabis varieties have been bred to produce huge amounts of THC, especially in the unfertilized female flower.
Worried about THC? See: How Long Does Cannabis Stay in Your System?
Chemicals don’t care what humans think of them. They aren’t angels and they aren’t devils, they’re just chemicals. If a substance chemically resembles something our bodies make and use naturally, then that substance often has the capability to bond with and trigger receptor sites in our bodies, altering the way our systems, including our brains, work (at least temporarily).
Exactly what changes depends on where those receptors are and what happens when they are triggered. Depending on the circumstance, the results might be very good, very bad, or a little of both. If you have THC in your system, consider reading the guide on How to Pass a Marijuana Drug Test.
THC and CBD
Two of the cannabinoids, THC and CBD, resemble anandamide, a poorly understood substance thought to be involved with pleasure, memory, the immune response, and reproduction balance. There are two types of anandamide receptors,CB1 and CB2. THC mostly triggers the CB1 receptors, which are concentrated in the brain. That’s why recreational users consider THC the “active ingredient” in cannabis.
Learn more: Difference Between CBD vs. THC
In contrast, CBD is not mood altering, because it triggers CB2 receptors, which don’t occur in the brain. While there is some evidence to suggest that long-term, excessive use of THC could cause problems, there are no CB1 receptors in the parts of the brain that keep the heart and brain going. That’s why nobody dies from a cannabis overdose.
The complication here is that THC and CBD are only two of the dozens of cannabinoids in cannabis, and anandamide is only one of an entire family of endocannabinoids in our bodies. So, what, exactly, does cannabis do to us? The short answer is nobody knows.
Cannabinoids as Medicine
Cannabis is only one of a great many plants thought to have curative properties. Some herbal remedies have been proven effective through scientific research, while others have been proven ineffective or even dangerous. A great many have never been studied at all.
Many people regard CBD as the more medicinal of the two best-known cannabinoids. Research supports (though in many cases, does not yet prove) many therapeutic uses for isolated CBD, and it isn’t mind altering, an important factor for some people. In fact, the World Health Organization deems CBD to be generally safe when used in reasonable doses and absent any underlying health issues.
At Hemper we carry a full line of legal forms of CBD Products that contain no more than 0.3% THC. Some forms include:
There are also advocates who call for the availability of whole-plant preparations, both because THC also has proven therapeutic value, and because of the possibility that other, unstudied cannabinols, or synergistic interactions between multiple cannabinols, might have medicinal benefits that haven’t been discovered yet.
Cannabis is hardly the only medical treatment with a side effect some users find inconvenient.
There You Have It
Cannabis can be medicinal for the same reason any other medicinal plant is―it contains chemicals that, either alone or in combination, can result in altering physiology or biological processes or reactions in a way that is beneficial to the human body when trying to prevent, treat or cure an ailment.
Knowledge Check: What are CBD Pills?
Exactly how useful cannabis might be is something that has yet to be determined. Research has confirmed a number of benefits and theories on mechanisms by which it works, but there is still much work to be done.
As is often the case with herbal medicine, it can be difficult for users to sort out fact from fiction. Some rumored benefits are likely true, just unconfirmed as of yet by medical research and studies. Others yet may be altogether falsehoods.
In short, cannabis is not a medicine. It is a plant from which medicine can be made. And best of all, it is becoming more readily available in states that have legalized medical or recreational use. Meaning that those suffering from various ailments have the opportunity to utilize cannabis vaping oils, tinctures, drops and more to their advantage.
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