Whats the deal with medicinal?
Cannabis-based medicines are soon to have a frontline spot in the health and wellness industry. As the use of medical marijuana gains a legal foothold, more and more research can be done to demonstrate the healing properties of this incredible plant.
Why and how does cannabis work?
Cannabis works so well as a medication because the human brain is wired to accept it. The endocannabinoid system (EC) is a system of receptors in the brain that are configured to accept cannabinoids. You may be aware of the cannabinoids Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) that are present in cannabis: receptors for these cannabinoids are present in your brain. THC and CBD are the cannabinoids that we know the most about currently, but there are hundreds, and possibly thousands more present. One of the most exciting things about the cannabis plant is the emerging science around its uses and effects, and we still have so much to learn.
Because the human body produces cannabinoids and there are parts in our brains that are specifically designed to accept them, many people wonder why the body would produce such receptors if we were not supposed to use this mother-nature provided medicine.
The EC system was first discovered in the 1990s by a fellow called Doctor Ralph Mechoulam, from the Hebrew University Center for Research and Pain. Mechoulam, who is from Israel, is the same person who, in the 1960s, identified THC as the main active ingredient in cannabis. Incidentally, Israel is one of the most advanced nations in the world when it comes to understanding the medical properties of cannabis.
What Mechoulam discovered, was the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors that are keyed up to accept the endocannabinoids that are naturally produced my the human body, and those that are present in cannabis (Phytocannabinoids)
CB1 receptors and THC: Pain-management
As well as being present in the human brain, nervous system, connective tissues, glands and organs, CB1 receptors are present in the human reproductive system. The majority of them, however, are located in the brain. The effect that THC has is that related to pain perception: when THC is present in the CB1 site, the pain that a person perceives is reduced. This is why THC is an important, natural and effective pain reduction medicine.
Why is THC better for pain management than narcotics?
Other than the fact that it is more natural, the CB1 receptors that work with THC are not present in the parts of the brain that manage heart rate and breathing. This means that there is no lethal dose of THC that a person can take. This is not true of narcotics.
CB2 receptors and CBD: Immune system benefits
CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are mostly found in the immune system—in areas such as the spleen. It is suspected that CB2 receptors are also present in some areas of the brain, but more research needs to be done before this is properly understood. The CB2 receptors are keyed up to accept CBD, and when CBD is present within them it works as an anti-inflammatory.
This is a very exciting and developing area of research. It is understood that CBD also benefits the immune system, but right now, exactly how is unknown. The benefits of this type of medicine and the potential for helping people suffering from all types of illness are potentially very great.
Sickness and cancer treatments
As the American Cancer Society recognizes, because cannabis has shown itself to be effective in reducing nausea and feelings of sickness, it has been used as a relief from the common side effects of chemotherapy. Cancer patients who otherwise are subject to feeling sick due to treatment can use the plant to help them overcome the urge to vomit. This has both immediate benefits in that the patient is able to cope better with the after effects of chemotherapy, and in the longer term, there is the additional benefit of stress relief.
Looking towards overall health and wellness
Beyond treating symptoms of disease and managing pain, it is believed that cannabis can actually act to prevent disease and promote health and wellbeing. Doctors such as Dustin Sulak, believe that small, regular doses can have a beneficial effect.
There are many others besides THC and CBD, such as cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG), however, more research needs to be done so that we can better understand how they operate. In fact, there could be hundreds more that we have no idea about at the moment! We look forward to understanding more about the medicinal effects of cannabis as the world of science unfolds. One thing we do know, is that cannabis-friendly accommodation is a must for people traveling who are using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
What do you think?
Did you know that cannabis had such a host of medical uses? Let us know in the comments!