What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant that originated in Central Asia and is now grown in many parts of the world. When we refer to cannabis we mean the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. Both of which can be used medically. The cannabis plant contains therapeutic compounds called cannabinoids. Most notably cannabis relieves pain and inflammation, nausea, glaucoma, muscle spasticity, and other movement disorders. It is also a powerful appetite stimulant. Research shows cannabis may be used as a protein against certain types of malignant tumors and halt the spread of malignant cells.

When examining cannabis, one must understand that there are two main subspecies known as CANNABIS SATIVA and CANNABIS INDICA. There is also a third subspecies known as CANNABIS RUDERALIS which is used less often. Within each subspecies there are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids naturally occur in the nervous and immune system of humans and other animals. There are two general types of cannabinoids found in plants, humans and animals, Phytocannabinoids( plant) and Endogenous Cannabinoids (human/animal). A third known as Synthetic Cannabinoids are produced in a laboratory. Right now scientists have found over 100 unique cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The most understood cannabinoids are the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). There have been two cannabinoid receptors identified in the endocannabinoid system of humans; CB1 and CB2. Essentially, Cannabinoids interact with and regulate each other and have a profound psychological effect on the human body.

Terpenoids and Terpenes and two important compounds that can be found within cannabis. Each compound gives the cannabis flower its unique taste and aroma. Terpenes and Terpenoids can also be found in other fruits and veggies like citrus, hops, thyme, basil, lavender, pine needles, pine nuts, black pepper, and cloves. Research suggests that each compound may produce meaningful therapeutic benefits when interacting with phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids found in plants). The primary terpenoids and terpenes identified in cannabis are Limonene, Myrcene, Linalool, Pinene, Beta- Caryophyllene, Nerolidol, Caryophyllene Oxide, Phytol, Eucalyptol, and y-terpinene. Every cannabis strain has a unique compound profile (cannabinoids and terpenes), similar to the difference in our fingerprints. There are currently no comprehensive federal or state standards for strain profiling. However, many laboratories within the industry offer profiling services to growers, processors, and dispensaries. Most laboratories base reports on scientific data and patient review data. Currently, there is no agreed upon method of naming strains based on lab profiles. This means that it is possible to have a strain with a similar name with different effects. This is due to a number of reasons including but not limited to growing conditions, plant genetics and even issues related to lack of testing. Laboratories even test for pesticides, mold, and residual solvents.

To understand your medicine it is important to have a general knowledge of a strain’s parent (sativa or indica). Knowing this will give a general idea of what to expect. An increasingly popular strain is known as High CBD strain. These strains have medicinal properties without the strong psychoactive effects. Some of the medical benefits include relief from anxiety, inflammatory, tumors, seizures, and pain. There are many factors that impact the effect of medical cannabis. Some factors include dosage, strains, method of consumption and environment. Your method of cannabis consumption is important because it can alter the effect of the medication on your body.  Cannabis can be consumed in several forms, including dried flower buds or various types of oils, concentrates or resin extracted from the flowers or leaves. The U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that cannabis has a relatively low toxicity and lethal doses are impossible to reach.

When using cannabis, one should not drive or operate heavy machinery. At first it is important to consume your medicine in a safe environment, waiting at least 1-2 hours after medicating to determine the effects. A great way to learn how your body interacts with cannabis is to keep a Medication Log/Journal. This log should include your dosage amount, strain of cannabis used, method of consumption, time taken, time of onset effects and length of medication’s effects. It is generally a personal decision as to how one medicates with cannabis, some methods can be more beneficial than others.

As a consumer and patient it is important to understand the fascinating components of medical cannabis. Always use your medication responsibly.