Medical Cannabis

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Contents:

The first medical use of cannabis supposedly traces back five thousand years to ancient China, 2737 BCE. According to Chinese legend, Emperor Shen Neng was one of the first to prescribe medicine made from the cannabis plant to treat various illnesses, including chronic pain, rheumatism, malaria, and gout. Cannabis was also used as a strong anaesthetic and to improve memory function. Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo (c. 140–208) is said to have administered cannabis powder mixed with wine prior to performing surgery. The Chinese word for "anesthesia" (mázuì 麻醉) literally means "cannabis intoxication".

Today, using cannabis for therapeutic purposes has once again come to the forefront.

WHAT IS MEDICAL MARIJUANA?

Medical marijuana is essentially the same product as recreational marijuana, except the former is taken to treat or alleviate certain health conditions. Although marijuana has long been used recreationally by the Western world, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that medical cannabis would start to be taken seriously. Today, numerous countries have established functioning, albeit vastly different, medical marijuana programmes. Likewise, a number of countries now also allow the cultivation of cannabis for private recreational or medicinal use.

HOW DOES MEDICINAL CANNABIS WORK?

Cannabis contains more than 100 different cannabinoids, each of which has a unique effect on the body. The two main cannabinoids used in medical cannabis are THC and CBD. THC is primarily responsible for the psychotropic effects people experience when consuming marijuana, otherwise known as the “high”. Conversely, CBD is non-intoxicating, but has various therapeutic properties that make it intriguing.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to medical marijuana. Some will benefit more from the swift relief provided by THC, while others will benefit from CBD’s therapeutic versatility and lack of side effects. Many could benefit from both cannabinoids, which is why cannabis companies are now producing strains with compelling THC:CBD ratios. Furthermore, it is believed that THC, CBD, and other cannabis plant chemicals can synergise in the body to provide a greater and more well-rounded course of effects. Called the “entourage effect[1]”, this theory argues that consuming “whole plant” cannabis derivatives is more effective than consuming cannabinoid isolates like pure THC.

CANNABIS AND THE HUMAN BODY

The cannabinoids produced in cannabis are structurally very similar to chemicals produced by the human body, suitably known as “endocannabinoids”. Endocannabinoids naturally bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system[2], and thus the cannabinoids from marijuana can influence this physiological system as well. The endocannabinoid system (ECS for short) is a regulatory system located throughout the nervous and immune systems, the skin, and more. Cannabinoids and endocannabinoids can either bind directly to receptors in this system (like THC) or influence them in indirect, but still profound ways of their own (CBD). By stimulating a response from these receptors, cannabinoids can mediate many important bodily functions.

The ECS plays a role in such processes as: metabolism and appetite regulation, memory function, mood, sleep, immune function, and more. This opens up many potential therapeutic uses for cannabis.

However, understanding cannabis and how it exerts such a variety of effects on the body can be difficult.

RESEARCH ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA

INFLAMMATION

There’s a large body of research showing that the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in regulating inflammatory processes[3]. Moreover, preclinical studies have shown that cannabinoids can reduce animal models of inflammation[4] associated with various health issues. A review from 2018[5] suggests the potential of cannabinoids to relieve osteoarthritis symptoms by way of catalysing anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antinociceptive action from the endocannabinoid system. However, researchers are quick to point out that only a few clinical trials have been held on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in this realm.

REDUCE SEIZURES

One of the most talked about uses for medical cannabis is to reduce seizures in difficult-to-treat forms of epilepsy. In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use[6] of an oral cannabidiol (CBD) solution called Epidiolex for the treatment of two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. For these patients, CBD can significantly reduce seizure frequency, potentially stopping them from happening entirely.

Medical Cannabis

• NAUSEA, VOMITING, APPETITE

Research shows that both THC[7] and CBD have the potential to reduce nausea and vomiting[8] in animal models.

HELP WITH GLAUCOMA

Glaucoma is one of the most cited reasons for using medicinal cannabis. Dating back to the 1970s, research found that both cannabis and isolated THC reduced intraocular pressure, which is a main reason for the condition. Back then, using marijuana for treating glaucoma[9] generated a lot of interest as the other medications available all came with adverse side effects. However, it bears mentioning that conventional medications for glaucoma are now available that don’t have these drawbacks.

• MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS

Research on cannabinoids for mental health conditions is still frustratingly limited, although cannabinoids have been shown to display neuroprotective[10] potential in preliminary studies. Moreover, cannabinoids are thought to promote neurogenesis[11] (the creation of new brain cells) in key areas of the brain associated with mental health.

HELP WITH EATING DISORDERS

The THC in cannabis increases our sensitivity to scents and flavours and stimulates our brain to make us think that we’re starving. Pretty much every cannabis users will know about the munchies—the cravings and voracious appetite that take hold not long after smoking cannabis. This is one way in which cannabis can help those with eating disorders.

But cannabis also helps with anorexia by addressing anxiety, as anorexia is essentially anxiety about eating. With this double-beneficial effect, cannabis may be a good treatment option for certain eating disorders.

RELAX MUSCLES IN PATIENTS WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Scientific data about using CBD for multiple sclerosis (MS) is still sparse, but early and very limited results are promising. A 2018 study[12] found cannabidiol (CBD) “reduces spasticity, pain, inflammation, fatigue, and depression”, which are the main contributing factors for immobility in MS sufferers. The study indicates that cannabis strains with a 1:1 or greater CBD:THC ratio are most effective for treating these symptoms.

A 2012 study[13] published in the _British Medical Journal_ found MS patients who were treated with cannabis extract to experience twice the relief from muscle stiffness compared to the placebo group.

STIMULATE APPETITE AND IMPROVE WEIGHT GAIN IN PEOPLE WITH AIDS

In the same way medicinal marijuana can help those with eating disorders, it can stimulate appetite and improve weight gain[14] in people with AIDS. But medical marijuana can do more for AIDS patients: It also helps with nausea and vomiting, and can provide soothing comfort as many AIDS patients also struggle with depression and anxiety.

HELP WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

THC and CBD are potentially of value for Alzheimer’s disease. A study published in 2014[15] found that THC can reduce the formation of beta-amyloid, which is a sticky protein that accumulates in the Alzheimer sufferer’s brain. “Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future”, says study author Chuanhai Cao, PhD and neuroscientist at Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy.

• SLEEP DISORDERS

Given the often-sedative effects of THC-rich cannabis (especially in large quantities), it stands to reason that cannabis could hold potential as a valuable sleep aid. Unfortunately, high-quality research in this area is scant. Still, as there are reams of anecdotal accounts on the sedative, sleep-inducing effects of heavy indica strains, for example, those looking to quicken the journey to Dreamland might consider THC-rich cannabis to ease the process. CBD is also being studied[16] for its potential here, though results are yet inconclusive.

Revisiting our earlier statement, there’s no one type of cannabis that’s considered medical. It’s all about your unique physiology, and how you plan to use cannabis. Luckily, Royal Queen Seeds provides detailed strain info, including THC and CBD content, on all of our seed product pages. “Keep On Growing”—and take care of yourself, too!

Are you aged 18 or over?

The content on RoyalQueenSeeds.com is only suitable for adults and is reserved for those of legal age.

Ensure you are aware of the laws of your country.

By clicking ENTER, you confirm
you are
18 years or older