The cannabis plant has been harvested and used by humans throughout history for a variety of purposes. It is because of its complexity, sophistication and cultivation that cannabis has survived for centuries.
Cannabis contains chemical compounds that have varying pharmacological and medicinal properties. The quality and quantity of these properties is contingent on the strain (genetics), and the growing environment. During the past several decades, scientists have studied and analyzed the entire cannabis plant. Science supports what humans have known for centuries: that the cannabis plant offers a variety of medicinal properties.
In August of 1973, Hui-Lin Li (John Bartram Professor of Botany and Horticulture, University of Pennsylvania and former Director of the Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania. DeVol Funeral Home, Washington, D.C.) presented his paper “The origin and use of cannabis in eastern asia linguistic-cultural implications” at the Conference on Cross-cultural Perspectives on Cannabis, IXth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Chicago, Ill., August 28–31, 1973.
Li published his findings in the July 1974 journal of Economic Botany. According to Li, cannabis was reported through human records (storytelling passed down from one generation to the next, or illustrations, recipes, medical diaries, etc.) dating back as far as the Stone Age.
“Historically, the oldest records in existence seem to place the origin of cultivation in northeastern Asia, a portion of which falls in present northern China where the early Chinese civilization began,” Li wrote.
“Cannabis has left a continuous record of its presence in this area from Neolithic times down to the present day, and its uses were closely integrated with the life and culture of the people throughout all periods.” he continued.
A 2006 edition of Current Pharmacology published an article titled: “Role of the Cannabinoid System in Pain Control and Therapeutic Implications for the Management of Acute and Chronic Pain Episodes”. The authors state that “the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors in the 1990s led to the characterisation of the endogenous cannabinoid system in terms of its components and numerous basic physiologic functions.”
The University of Washington states that there are at least 480 natural components in the cannabis plant. Depending on the source, that number can fluctuate, but science does agree that those natural components are what make cannabis medicine.
Whereas opiates target the central nervous system, Cannabinoids similarly, and naturally, affect the user by “interacting with specific receptors.” Once medical marijuana is ingested, the receptors are opened and the medication begins to provide relief to patients.
Cannabinoid Receptors, referred to as CB1 and CB2, are an essential part of the human body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors all over the body. This system enables a connection between body and mind, signaling to all other systems when something feels good or bad. When the body is defensive against trauma, this system begins to fail, resulting in physical, mental and/or neurological conditions.
The cannabinoid receptor AEA is commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to relieve pain and anxiety. When a patient consumes medical marijuana they are essentially supplementing their naturally-occurring endocannabinoid system. If this system consistently has a shortage in the endocannabinoid system, disease or illness could develop.
The endocannabinoid system also controls most responses within the human system including memory, sensory, neuroendocrine, metabolism, and cognition responses. This system tells humans when they are hungry, tired, scared, sad or happy.
In a 2012 article published in the Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology medical journal (published by the British Association for Psychopharmacology) titled “Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals” the author Zerrin Atakan explores the complexity of the cannabis plant. He cites that the discovery of major compounds (such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol) “led to the further discovery of an important neurotransmitter system called the endocannabinoid system. This system is widely distributed in the brain and in the body, and is considered to be responsible for numerous significant functions.”
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the naturally-occuring chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. THC was discovered by Scientist Raphael Mechoulam in the 1960s. Mechoulam’s experiments were conducted using Israeli hashish (loaned to him by the Isaraeli police). Mechoulam is considered a pioneer in the scientific community because he advocated for the proper analysis of cannabis so that it could be used medicinally.
Essentially Mechoulam concluded that THC mimics the body’s natural cannabinoid chemicals, specifically the anandamide’s role in the brain, by stimulating the brain cells to release dopamine.
Dopamine creates good feelings. THC is known to be responsible for a variety of sensory-related effects such as relaxation and euphoria. THC can also be responsible for fragmented thoughts as it interacts with the hippocampus which is in-charge of memory.
Raw cannabis is not intoxicating. While there are benefits to consuming the cannabis in the raw plant (juicing is one example), THC must be converted from another cannabinoid- THCA. According to the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology (JPP), this process is called decarboxylation. By applying heat, this releases or removes a carbon which prevents the THC molecule from binding with the appropriate receptors.
Physically, THC is effective in pain reduction, including muscular and chronic pain, and also increases appetite. THC can also be used to treat disorders like depression, anxiety, cancer, MS, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, insomnia, asthma, glaucoma and more.
The information below is meant as a guide:
|Qualifying Conditions: If a patient has any of the following conditions or has been determined to be terminal, he or she may qualify for low-THC or medical cannabis.
Information courtesy of https://www.trulieve.com/resources/faqs/products
*Other debilitating medical conditions are those for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.
Some strains with higher THC levels are:
Through the powers of the endocannabinoid system and with the proper use of medical cannabis, patients can experience long-lasting and natural pain and symptom relief.
Each patient’s needs are unique. As with all medicinal interventions, medical cannabis strains may affect each person and medical condition differently.
Be sure to speak with your medical marijuana physician about their recommendations based on your individual needs and medical conditions. The trained staff at the Medical Marijuana Treatment Center will assist each patient in selecting the appropriate cannabis products.