MARIJUANA AS MEDICINE
THERE IS AN astounding range of health benefits and medicinal treatments offered by Marijuana. Cannabis can have antiseizure, anti-inflammatory, antinausea, antianxiety, antidepressant, sedative, neuroprotective, and pain-relieving effects. New research continues to emerge and confirm the efficacy of both modern and centuries-old therapies. Still, it’s important to understand the risks involved before medicating with cannabis. Once you find your dosage and delivery method, medical Marijuana can provide you with wonderful, much-needed relief.
PROS AND CONS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA USE
“I have found in my study of these patients that cannabis is really a safe, effective, and nontoxic alternative to many standard medications. There is no such thing as an overdose. We have seen very minimal problems with abuse or dependence, which at worst are equivalent to dependence on caffeine. While a substance may have some potential for misuse, in my opinion, that’s a poor excuse to deny its use and benefit to everyone else.” —Philip Denney, MD, physician and cofounder of a medical cannabis evaluation practice
Although the health benefits of Marijuana are extremely promising, Marijuana is by no means a miracle cure. It is important to continue treatments prescribed by your doctor and not take any rash actions until you are cleared by a knowledgeable physician. Cannabis can certainly help with several symptoms of serious diseases, like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease, but there is no medical evidence that cannabis can cure any disease. Although scientists are optimistic that Marijuana will prove to be helpful in treating many serious illnesses, and perhaps even offer a cure, there is a need for more clinical studies.
Recent research suggests a wide range of clinical applications for cannabis. Studies show it can help combat symptoms like nausea, pain, pressure from glaucoma, inflammation, muscle spasms, headaches and migraines, lack of appetite, sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. Some studies suggest that it can even stop the spread of cancer cells and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease; research into these areas is ongoing.
Finding out if cannabis is right for you is a process that takes time. If you have a medical condition that cannabis is reported to help, talk with a medical professional about how to start the process.
Benefits of Using Medical Marijuana versus Other Health Treatments
You can’t overdose on cannabis. In Marijuana’s lengthy history, there has been no record of a fatal overdose (compare that to the 6 people each day who are killed by alcohol poisoning or the 40 people each day who are killed by prescription painkiller overdose).26
There are fewer negative side effects. Some prescription drugs have really nasty side effects that can lead to nausea, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, cancer, physical debilitation, and even death.27
The cost is low. Prescriptions can be quite expensive, and while you still have to pay for medical Marijuana, it is certainly more affordable than most prescription drugs. With a green thumb and a little setup cost, you can even grow your own medicine.
It helps your metabolism. Recent studies demonstrate a link between cannabis use and a lower percentage of body fat. Results found the rate of obesity and diabetes to be dramatically reduced in cannabis users compared to non-cannabis users.28
It protects your brain. Modern science has identified the potential neuroprotective nature of cannabis, especially in relation to alcohol-induced brain damage. In sharp contrast to the belief that Marijuana kills brain cells, cannabinoids have, in some instances, been associated with the protection and generation of brain cells.29
It can relieve pain. Marijuana can relieve chronic pain, particularly neuropathic pain, which is nerve-associated pain that is notoriously hard to treat with standard analgesics.
You can use it to relax. Cannabis can relax your body and your mind, which is helpful when treating insomnia, anxiety, and PTSD.
It increases appetite. The cannabinoid THC stimulates your appetite, making it great for health conditions that cause a lack of appetite and lead to physical weakness.
It reduces nausea. Along with increasing the appetite, Marijuana reduces nausea. Patients who are going through chemotherapy need to keep their strength up, but eating may be the last thing they want to do. Cannabis can stimulate their appetite by reducing nausea.
Drawbacks of Using Medical Marijuana versus Other Health Treatments
Your thought process and motor coordination can become impaired. High doses of THC may cause impairments to short-term memory, balance, and coordination. Never drive or operate heavy machinery when using cannabis.
You can experience dry mouth. One of the most common side effects of Marijuana use is feeling like you have a bunch of cotton balls in your mouth. Keep a drink or ice pop handy!
It can increase your appetite. Cannabis is prescribed for patients with a lack of appetite or nausea, because, well, it increases your appetite. This may not be a welcome side effect, however, if you already have a healthy appetite.
It temporarily increases heart rate. If you have heart issues, talk with your doctor before medicating with cannabis. An increased heart rate may increase your risk of heart attack.
Hallucinations can occur. Cannabis is a mild psychedelic. High doses of THC may cause auditory or visual hallucinations.
You may feel anxiety, distrust, and panic. High doses of cannabis or even moderate doses of some strains may lead to these negative feelings. However, cannabis can also decrease anxiety.
There are unpredictable effects from strain to strain. Different strains may affect you in different ways, and the same strain may be different from one grower to the next.
Inhalation of tar and chemicals can be harmful. Inhaling smoke from cannabis brings harmful tar and chemicals into the lungs and throat. While long-term studies haven’t found a correlation between smoking cannabis and lung damage, patients with sensitive or weakened lungs or throat should avoid smoking.
Long-term effects are unclear. Modern research has pointed to a number of wonderful benefits from cannabis, but studies are lacking on the long-term effects of the various methods of cannabis use.
Cannabis use is federally illegal. Cannabis is banned by the federal government. Using it may put you at risk for legal action. Refer to the tables in Appendix A to review your state’s Marijuana limits.
Not much is known about the effects of mixing prescription drugs and Marijuana. In the case of some antidepressants, cannabis can increase undesirable side effects such as anxiety, nausea, and rapid heart rate. With antipsychotics, the very symptoms that are being treated may be made worse with the use of Marijuana. Again, there is very little research on the mixing of cannabis with prescription drugs. When in doubt, talk with your doctor.
When Use Becomes Abuse
The jury is still out on the addictive nature of cannabis. Research suggests that the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine can trigger an addiction circuit in the brain similar to that triggered by sugar and alcohol. The feel-good effects of dopamine cause the brain to tell us that it wants more. Just seeing a picture of the substance in question can cause our brain to start firing in anticipation.
One study showed that 40 percent of participants who stopped using cannabis experienced withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.30 This is concerning because those are some of the exact conditions cannabis is known to treat. That said, many pharmaceutical drugs are seriously addictive and have highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. As with any medicine you take, you must know the potential risks and side effects.
Are you becoming too dependent on medical Marijuana?
Do you need to smoke more to achieve the same effects?
Have you experienced any withdrawal symptoms when you’ve tried to stop, such as sleep disturbances or irritability?
Have you tried and failed to stop using cannabis?
Do you spend a significant amount of time trying to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of Marijuana?
Have you given up important social or work activities to use cannabis?
Do you continue to use cannabis despite experiencing consistent negative side effects?
If you answered yes to any of the preceding questions, you may need to take a break from medical Marijuana for a month. This is known as a tolerance break. Research has shown that 28 days may be sufficient to reset the body’s processing of cannabis. If you find you need help stopping, please contact your doctor or therapist.
CHRONIC CARE FOR CHRONIC HEALTH ISSUES
“The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes that patients should have safe access to therapeutic Marijuana/cannabis. Cannabis or Marijuana has been used medicinally for centuries. It has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of symptoms and conditions.” —American Nurses Association
We’ve used research on medical and therapeutic uses of Marijuana and its cannabinoids published in the last 15 years to compile the following list of health conditions that may be treated with cannabis. Remember, cannabis is not a miracle drug, and it is not the answer to all illnesses and maladies. In addition, not everyone will benefit from cannabis in the same way, so anecdotal evidence should be viewed as just that—anecdotal. That being said, cannabis does have an astounding array of clinical applications and health benefits. As new studies continue to emerge, we recommend that you stay current on the research and its published findings. NORML, and particularly the NORML blog at blog.norml.org, is a great source of information on reliable studies as they are released.
Health Issues and Symptoms with Substantial Research
Chronic pain: A study in 2013 found that the inhalation and ingestion of THC significantly decreased pain sensitivity in healthy subjects exposed to pain.31 Cannabis can also reduce the risk of abuse and overdose associated with pharmaceutical opioids. “States permitting medical Marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not,” reported the National Bureau of Economic Research.32 Unfortunately, some states do not include chronic pain as a qualifying condition for medical Marijuana.
HIV and AIDS: Cannabis is a very common treatment for patients suffering with HIV or AIDS. Not only does it combat neuropathic pain,33 nausea, loss of appetite, and anxiety, but it can also improve the immune system of patients living with HIV or AIDS.34 A 2011 study found an association between cannabis and decreased mortality and reduction in disease progression.35
Nausea: The antinausea properties of cannabis are well researched. Cannabis is often prescribed to cancer patients going through chemotherapy as a remedy for nausea and an appetite stimulant.36
Neuropathic pain: Chronic nerve pain is often associated with cancer, HIV or AIDS, spinal cord injury, and diabetes. Several studies have found that cannabis treats this pain better than currently available medications.37
Multiple sclerosis (MS): Studies show that Marijuana reduces many symptoms of multiple sclerosis, including depression, fatigue, incontinence, spasticity, and pain.38 Research is now focusing on the ability of cannabinoids to modify the disease itself. A 2003 study suggests that the neuroprotective properties of cannabis may “slow the neurodegenerative processes that ultimately lead to chronic disability in multiple sclerosis.”39
Rheumatoid arthritis: Cannabis has been shown to relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as the progression of the disease itself.40
Health Issues and Symptoms with a Moderate Amount of Research
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Preclinical data shows the ability of cannabinoids to halt the progression of ALS and relieve certain symptoms and side effects of the disease such as pain, loss of appetite, and depression.41 The scientific community is calling for clinical trials to validate these findings and move forward in the treatment of the disease with cannabis.
Alzheimer’s disease: As a study in 2006 found, “THC and its analogues may provide an improved therapeutic [option] for Alzheimer’s disease [by] … simultaneously treating both the symptoms and the progression of [the] disease.”42 Additional studies show weight gain and a decrease in negative feelings to also be positive effects of cannabinoids on Alzheimer’s patients.43
Acute head trauma: Cannabinoids have been shown to act as a neuroprotectant in a 2013 study, protecting the brain from damage before and after an injury.44
Stroke: A 2015 meta-analysis found cannabinoids to significantly reduce the injury from stroke and improve the functional outcomes of stroke victims when administered 2 to 6 hours after the stroke.45
Parkinson’s disease: A recent 2014 study reported significant improvements in the Parkinson’s disease symptoms of tremors, rigidity, and slowness of movement.46 Daily use also corresponded to improved sleep, quality of life, and overall well-being.47
Diabetes: Several studies indicated an inverse relationship between cannabis use and diabetes.48 Cannabinoids are shown to halt disease progression,49 resist disease development,50 and treat side effects of those with the disease such as diabetic retinopathy51 (the leading cause of blindness in adults) and neuropathic pain.52 In a recent study, subjects who used cannabis in the past year were more likely to have a lower percentage of body fat, lower waist circumference, and lower insulin resistance compared to those who had not reported use of the substance.53
Epilepsy: While reports of treating epilepsy, a nervous system disorder that causes twitching and seizures, with cannabis are numerous, especially in pediatric patients, clinical studies are only now being conducted.54 Recent research focusing on CBD as a treatment for the disorder are finding a decrease in the frequency of seizures for pediatric patients.55
Fibromyalgia: Patients suffering from fibromyalgia have few working options for treating their chronic pain. While there have only been a few medical trials investigating the use of cannabis for the treatment of fibromyalgia, many patients are praising its efficacy.56 In 2011, a study found that fibromyalgia patients successfully used cannabis to treat pain and stiffness and to promote relaxation.57
Gastrointestinal disorders: Patients with gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), often find relief with cannabis. Studies show that cannabis can improve symptoms by suppressing gastrointestinal motility,58 inhibiting intestinal secretions,59 reducing acid reflux,60 and protecting from inflammation,61 as well as promoting epithelial wound healing.62
Cancer/glioma (brain and spinal cord tumor): A growing body of preclinical and clinical data demonstrates the ability of cannabinoids to reduce the spread of specific cancer cells and to possibly even kill those cells. These promising findings are providing hope for a new class of cancer treatment using cannabis.63 For up-to-date information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s page on cannabis treatment (see Resources here).
Urinary incontinence: Patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries found relief from incontinence with cannabis in a 2003 study.64 Experts believe there may be broader applications for the wider population suffering with incontinence.65
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): The antibacterial properties of cannabis have demonstrated great success in reducing the spread of the multidrug-resistant bacterial infection MRSA in preclinical models.66
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Experts believe that cannabis can ease symptoms of PTSD by relieving anxiety, depression, and insomnia.67
Pruritus (itching): Patients medicating with cannabis saw a decrease in their chronic itching and were able to sleep better and return to work.68 Topical application cured pruritus in 38 percent of trial subjects in a 2005 study and significantly reduced the itching in another 43 percent.69
Tourette syndrome: Clinical studies report a significant reduction of tics and obsessive-compulsive behavior associated with Tourette syndrome in patients who were given THC.70
Health Issues and Symptoms that Need More Research
Alcohol-induced brain damage: A 2005 study on rats demonstrated a 60 percent reduction in brain cell death caused by ethanol abuse with the help of the cannabinoid CBD.71
Depression and anxiety: Research suggests that cannabinoids can play a role in the alleviation of depression and anxiety and that cannabis-based medicines may one day offer a safer alternative to conventional antidepressant pharmaceuticals.72
Hepatitis C: Existing treatments for hepatitis C can often cause nausea. Cannabis can treat not only the nausea but also the symptoms of the disease (depression, fatigue, joint pain, and cirrhosis).73 More research is needed to properly assess the safety of cannabis for this disease, as a recent study found a link between cannabis and steatosis (fatty liver) in hepatitis C patients.74
Dystonia (involuntary muscle contractions): Several case studies have been published on the successful treatment of dystonia, a neurological movement disorder causing muscle tension and contractions, with cannabis. One study reported the patient’s subjective pain score fell from 9 (out of 10) to 0 for 48 hours after inhaling Marijuana.75 Other reports found improvement in motor control and a possible halt in the progression of the disease.76 Larger clinical trials are warranted to investigate this treatment across the population suffering from dystonia.
Hypertension (high blood pressure): Experts believe there is a strong link between the endocannabinoid system (a group of body-wide cannabinoid receptors) and the regulation of blood pressure.77 Animal studies have demonstrated a link between cannabis and lowering blood pressure, as well as reducing the progression of the hardening of arteries.78 Human clinical trials are needed to assess the efficacy of cannabis in lowering blood pressure.
Huntington’s disease: While cannabis has not been shown to relieve symptoms of Huntington’s disease, a brain nerve cell disorder, it may play a role in moderating the advancement of the disease. A combination of THC and CBD has neuroprotective properties that may delay disease progression.79
Osteoporosis: Scientists believe that the primary role of some endocannabinoid receptors is to keep “bone remodeling at balance, thus protecting the skeleton against age-related bone loss,” which has caused some experts to speculate that Marijuana may be a possible treatment for osteoporosis.80
Sleep apnea: Animal studies report a significant reduction of sleep-related apnea with cannabis use. Researchers found that properties in cannabis help stabilize respiration during sleep and block serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea in a statistically significant manner.81
Separating Fact from Fiction
As you continue on your cannabis journey, you may encounter naysayers who will list several dangers of cannabis. While there are very real risks (covered earlier in this chapter), we’ll lay out some facts for you now.
■ There are no reports that anyone has ever overdosed or died from smoking or consuming too much cannabis.
■ A 2012 study on cannabis’s effects on the lungs found that occasional and low cannabis use caused no adverse effects.82 In fact, the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis can potentially benefit both asthma and lung functioning.
■ Marijuana is not a gateway drug that may lead to the use of addictive drugs. A 2014 study found that although cannabis use went up in teenagers, hard drug use did not.83
■ Cannabis use during pregnancy has not been linked to birth defects.84 (Nevertheless, it is best to avoid it during pregnancy.)
■ Cannabis does not kill brain cells. It actually has neuroprotective and neurogenerative properties.85
■ Cannabis use is less dangerous than drinking alcohol and using tobacco.86
To begin medicating with cannabis, start slow. Talk with your doctor about possible drug interactions and any potential health risks. You can also refer to a list of interactions online at www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/cannabis-index.html. If possible, work with a local Dispensary to find strains and products that will work best for you and your condition.
Whether inhaling or ingesting, start with very small quantities in a safe place. For edibles, start with products containing 2.5 mg of THC and wait a day before increasing your dosage. For inhalation, start with two small puffs and wait 30 minutes before increasing. Arrange to have someone you can call in case of a negative reaction. Until you know how your body will react, be conservative.
Children and Medical Marijuana
Medicating a child with Marijuana can be an alarming thought. No one wants to break the law or give their children a controlled substance that hasn’t been approved for their use. Nevertheless, there are some children with epilepsy who don’t respond to any existing therapies. The use of cannabis in treating children has grown rapidly following Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special called Weed. In this special, Dr. Gupta introduced us to Charlotte Figi, a young girl with epilepsy whose parents were successfully treating her with high-CBD cannabis oil.
Parents are also finding cannabis to be an integral part of cancer treatment for their children, not only to treat the nausea and pain that are side effects of chemotherapy, but also to fight the cancer itself. Some parents who are desperate to pursue medical Marijuana as a viable option have moved to states where Marijuana has been legalized. This option is certainly not possible for everyone. Other parents travel to neighboring states to obtain cannabis or ask friends or family in legal states to send them supplies.
There is a lack of medical trials involving the use of Marijuana in pediatric patients, and its long-term effects have not been studied. Parents should talk with trusted doctors and medical staff to figure out the best treatment option for their children who might benefit from medical Marijuana.
CANNABIS AND THE HUMAN BODY
“There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of disease as now, and all their discoveries are tending toward the simple truth that you can’t improve on nature.” —Thomas Edison, inventor and businessman
To explain how cannabis affects the human body, we must first start with an overview of the endocannabinoid system, which was named for the plant that led to its discovery. The recent discovery of this body-wide group of receptors upon which cannabinoids act has exponentially progressed our understanding of Marijuana’s regulatory functions in health and disease.
Endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout the human body: in the brain, organs, central and peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, gastrointestinal system, urinary system, immune system, and even cartilage. The medical community believes that our endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating the homeostasis of our biological functions, and may subsequently be the most important system in the human body.
Researchers have discovered two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. They believe there is a third awaiting discovery. CB1 receptors are found predominantly in our central and peripheral nervous system and CB2 receptors are found in the immune system. Many tissues contain both receptors, each performing distinct actions.87 Medical studies have found an unusual abundance of cannabinoid receptors in tumor cells. Autophagy, or cell self-deconstruction, is facilitated by the endocannabinoid system, which keeps normal, healthy cells alive while instructing malignant, cancerous cells to self-destruct. Experts believe that the presence of cannabinoid receptors in tumor cells is a clear example of the endocannabinoid system’s vital role in our internal homeostasis. Moreover, clinical studies and research show that endocannabinoid deficiencies—that is, a deficiency in the biochemical compounds that activate the same receptors as cannabis—play a role in several medical conditions, including migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).88
To clarify, our bodies naturally make endocannabinoids to stimulate the cannabinoid receptors and regulate the system. Cannabinoids, such as THC, are external substances that stimulate those same receptors. Research indicates that the administration of external cannabinoids, such as THC, can cause the endocannabinoid system to create more receptors, and thus increase a patient’s sensitivity to the cannabinoids. First-time users might not feel the experience as intensely as they will after a few uses.
THC and other cannabinoids are produced inside the Marijuana plant’s trichomes and are excreted in the resin. The resin is made up of a mixture of more than 700 chemicals, the most important of which are cannabinoids and terpenes.
THC is the cannabinoid that gets the most attention, and with good reason. It’s responsible for the psychoactive effects of Marijuana, but it’s also helpful for relieving pain, nausea, lack of appetite, and inflammation. THC mimics the cannabinoids naturally produced in the body and activates receptors in the brain associated with thinking, pain, pleasure, time perception, coordination, and concentration.
The second most common cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), acts on different pathways in the brain than THC, so there are little, if any, psychotropic results. CBD possesses anticonvulsant activity, helps with inflammation, has been shown to reduce some tumors and cancer cells, and relieves anxiety and depression disorders. CBD has also been shown to reduce the psychotropic effects of THC, which in large quantities, can be very unpleasant. A study from the 1970s found that patients reported greater relief from a combination of CBD and THC than THC alone.89
When choosing a cannabis strain for your personal medical use, it’s helpful to look at the ratio of THC to CBD. Some patients who need CBD find that a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD is best, while others look for a 1:20 ratio of THC to CBD for a mostly CBD strain.
You may notice distinct aromas from various strains of cannabis. The signature smell and taste of different strains come from the terpenes in the plant resin. As you learned earlier, terpenes are not only found in cannabis; they are present in many of our everyday foods, flowers, and herbs, including black pepper and rosemary. Emerging research has discovered that terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids to contribute to the overall effect of a strain. Researchers have termed this the “entourage effect.”90 In trying to develop cannabinoid-based drugs, pharmaceutical companies found that whole plant extracts worked better than isolated compounds.91
Terpenes have a wide range of effects comparable to the prized medicinal uses of cannabinoids, including pain-relieving, antianxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-epileptic effects. Gone are the days of judging a strain by its THC percentage and indica versus sativa. Testing facilities and dispensaries are now often equipped with the cannabinoid and terpene profile to narrow in on a strain that will work for your unique purpose. Understanding the differences between terpenes will turn you into a true “cannasseur.”
Where to Find It
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has both psychotropic and medicinal effects. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It binds to cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system and the immune system, resulting in relaxation, reduced pain, and increased appetite. It appears to protect the brain by reducing inflammation and stimulating neurogenesis.
AIDS, HIV, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, arthritis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, lack of appetite, nausea, neuropathic pain, Huntington’s disease, incontinence, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, pruritus, sleep apnea, and Tourette syndrome
It is hard not to find THC in cannabis products. Most strains are predominantly THCA, which is converted into THC when heated. Strains will list the THC percentage of the plant. Edibles, tinctures, and concentrates will likely list the milligrams of THC contained in the product.
Raw cannabis contains mostly tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). Once heated, THCA becomes THC. THCA is nonpsychoactive. It has anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory abilities, and appears to help chronic immune system disorders.
Arthritis, cancer, endometriosis, lupus, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, and seizures
Every high-THC strain that has not been heated contains THCA. Raw plants can be juiced for THCA. Unheated tinctures can also be made with high levels of THCA.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is psychoactive, euphoric, and has stronger, faster “high” effects than THC. It is also an appetite suppressant.
Pain and appetite suppressant
The following strains are generally high in THCV levels: Durban Poison and Blue Dream.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is nonpsychoactive and is reported to be anticonvulsive, antipsychotic, antinausea, sedating, and relaxing. It has also been shown to reduce the psychoactive effects and short-term memory loss associated with THC.
Acne, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, Dravet syndrome, epilepsy, glaucoma, Huntington’s disease, inflammation, mood disorders, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia
The following strains are generally high in CBD levels: Charlotte’s Web, ACDC, Harlequin, Harle-Tsu, Sour Tsunami, Island Sweet Skunk, and Cannatonic.
Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is nonpsychoactive and has anticonvulsive effects.
Strains likely to contain CBDV include Harlequin and Island Sweet Skunk.
Cannabinol (CBN) is created when THC is exposed to light and oxygen. It can cause an intense body high, and make users dizzy or groggy. It has mild psychoactive effects and appears to increase the effects of THC. It has medicinal effects, including improving symptoms of epilepsy, reducing muscle spasm, relieving intraocular pressure, and reducing depression.
Depression, epilepsy, glaucoma, inflammation, insomnia, intraocular pressure, muscle spasms, and pain
All strains can produce CBN when exposed to light and oxygen. It may also be possible to find CBN-specific products at your local Dispensary.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is nonpsychoactive and is responsible for the production of both THC and CBD. It has sleep-inducing, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It can lower intraocular pressure.
Glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, insomnia, and intraocular pressure
Plants that are harvested three-quarters of the way through their cycle may preserve some CBG. Strains that are high in CBG (around 1 percent) include Harlequin.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is nonpsychoactive and has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiviral properties and may contribute to the overall pain-relieving properties of cannabis. It may also inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and stimulate bone growth. It works best in conjunction with CBD and THC.
Depression, inflammation, migraines, neurodegenerative diseases, and pain
While there are no well-known high-CBC strains, the cannabinoid is quickly gaining popularity. Keep a lookout at your local Dispensary for emerging CBC products and strains.
Where to Find It
Floral, citrus notes, candy-like
Lavender, citrus, rosewood, coriander
Antipsychotic, antiepileptic, antianxiety, antiacne, sedative, pain reliever, antidepressant
G-13, LA Confidential
Rich, peppery, spicy, woody
Thai basil, cloves, black pepper, cotton
Antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory; good for arthritis, ulcers, autoimmune disorders, and other gastrointestinal complications
Hash Plant, Super Silver Haze
Musky, earthy, herbal with notes of citrus and tropical fruit
Mango, hops, bay leaves, lemongrass, eucalyptus
Sedating, relaxing, pain-relieving, antispasm, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia
White Widow, Harlequin
Bitter, sour, citrus
Citrus rind, rosemary, juniper, peppermint
Elevated mood, stress relief, antifungal, antibacterial, anticarcinogenic; fights gastric reflux, gastrointestinal issues, gallstones, depression, and anxiety
O.G. Kush, Super Lemon Haze
Pine, rosemary, basil, parsley, dill
Asthma, inflammation, alertness, memory retention; may counteract THC effects
Jack Herer, Chemdawg, Bubba Kush, Trainwreck, Super Silver Haze
Apples, cumin, tea tree, lilacs, conifers
Antifungal, antibacterial, anti-insomnia, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, sedative
Super Lemon Haze, Jack Herer
When cannabis is inhaled, the chemical compounds travel into the airway and lungs before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Heating the plant during inhalation converts the cannabinoid THCA into the psychoactive compound THC (delta-9 THC), a process known as decarboxylation. As much as 50 to 60 percent of the THC is delivered into the bloodstream, with peak concentrations reached at 5 to 10 minutes after inhalation. Within minutes of inhaling cannabis, the heart rate increases by 20 to 50 beats per minute and can continue for up to 3 hours. The effects of cannabis begin somewhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes after inhalation, once the drug travels up the bloodstream to the brain, and can last 1 to 2 hours.
If cannabis is consumed in food or drink, the drug will be processed in the stomach before heading to the liver, where much of the THC is converted into a substance necessary for metabolism, the metabolite 11-hydroxy-delta-9-THC. This crosses the blood–brain barrier more easily and is thought to have more of a psychotropic effect than standard THC. It may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours for effects to kick in, and they can last 4 to 8 hours. There are multiple factors that contribute to how quickly you begin to feel effects. For example, consuming cannabis on an empty stomach can bring on the effects faster than a full stomach, as can a faster metabolism.
On the other hand, hard candies, gum, tincture drops that are administered under the tongue, and anything else absorbed in the mouth will take effect almost immediately and wear off within 2 to 3 hours. Drinks, chocolates, and other edibles can also be absorbed orally to some degree, depending on the length of time the infused product remains in the mouth.
Cannabis suppositories are another efficient and fast way to medicate without inhalation or ingestion. They are shaped like bullets and administered rectally. The chemical compounds are absorbed through the intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream. Effects kick in 10 to 15 minutes after insertion and last up to 8 hours.
Another form of application is through the skin using transdermal patches and topicals. Transdermal patches take effect in 10 to 15 minutes and can last 8 to 12 hours. They deliver the chemicals straight to the bloodstream. Transdermal patches and suppositories are ideal for people who have severe nausea or who are unable to ingest or inhale.
Topicals are cannabis-infused balms, oils, and lotions that absorb through the skin and activate the CB2 receptors. They provide localized treatment without the psychoactive effects. Unlike transdermal patches and suppositories, topicals are nonpsychoactive because they can’t get into the bloodstream. Topicals provide localized relief of pain, sore muscles, tension, and inflammation. They may also relieve psoriasis, dermatitis, itching, headaches, and cramping.
Everyone processes cannabis differently, so be aware that what works for one person might not work for you. Cannabis might make one person experience stress relief and sedation while it makes another feel overstimulated and energized. Several factors can contribute to these differences:
■ strain used
■ amount consumed
■ method of consumption (inhaled, ingested, transdermal)
■ environment or setting
■ mind-set or mood
■ recent experience or history with cannabis use
■ nutrition or diet
■ stomach contents
■ metabolism, hormones, and biochemistry
■ drugs, medicine, and supplements used
The endocannabinoid system is a relatively new discovery and isn’t fully understood, and there may be unknown interactions that can be dangerous to cannabis users. For example, people with preexisting psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, or a family history of mental illness may have negative reactions to Marijuana. It can lead to a very negative experience (panic, anxiety, or paranoia) or an acute psychotic state. Some researchers believe there is a link between Marijuana use and the precipitation of schizophrenia.92 If you do have a family history of psychosis, particularly schizophrenia, consider the potential risks before trying cannabis yourself.
Anyone who is on a transplant list should speak with a doctor about cannabis use and candidacy for a transplant. Some transplant centers have a substance abuse policy that may reject cannabis users from their list of patients, despite recent findings that Marijuana may help prevent transplant rejection.93 Several organizations are fighting to ban the rejection of candidates using cannabis, but if you are on a transplant list, check with your doctor to make the best decision for you.
The elderly must be mindful that cannabis can cause dizziness or disturb balance coordination. A slip or fall could cause a host of other problems.
People with heart problems should consult a physician before using Marijuana. Cannabis can cause the heart rate to increase. In rare cases, it can double. There isn’t enough research to conclusively say that cannabis is bad for people with heart problems, but some cardiologists and researchers warn against its use by patients with heart problems.
In a 2012 study, researchers found a link between cannabis and fertility issues in men.94 Regular cannabis users had a lower sperm count than non-cannabis users.
Teens should steer clear of Marijuana for now. There is conflicting evidence that children who use cannabis before age 16 may be susceptible to changes in the brain. More research is needed, but we advise keeping children and teens away from Marijuana unless there is severe medical need.
Women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding may also want to abstain from cannabis use. While there is no clear evidence that Marijuana is harmful to mother or child, further studies are needed to be absolutely sure.
Originally posted 2021-08-03 22:01:33.