Marijuana is not new to the medical world. In fact, it has been around for over 2,500 years starting in China as a marijuana tea to treat malaria, memory, and gout. It was also seen as early as 2000 B.C. in India and 1,550 in Ancient Egypt.
Marijuana for medicinal purposes continued through the years, but the Harrison Act of 1914 made medical cannabis a crime in the U.S, and in 1970 it was categorized as a Schedule I drug along with heroin, opium, and other more harmful drugs. Arguments against its use claimed it had no medicinal purpose. With the Schedule, I classification, research stopped and the plant’s use for legal medical purposes came to a screeching halt.
However, diehard marijuana users and researchers in support of medical marijuana have relentlessly lobbied for medical weed legalization, and in the years since then, medical research has learned a great deal about cannabis and its benefits to the human body. One important discovery includes that humans have an endocannabinoid system that allows us to produce chemicals very much like the ones found in the marijuana plant.
The system is made up of endocannabinoids and receptors located in our organs, connective tissues, brains, glands, and immune cells. The receptors work to stabilize our bodies against nerve damage, tumor and cancer cells, muscle tissue damage, and faulty immune cells. Ironically, it also stabilizes our thoughts and behaviour. Our bodies, in fact all mammals bodies, naturally produce endocannabinoids, that stimulate the receptors to promote healing and maintain good health. Cannabinoids found in plants like medical weed and Echinacea Purpura can also stimulate these receptors.
With this knowledge, it’s hard to deny that medical cannabis has many medicinal benefits and perhaps may be one of the greatest discoveries to human health. We have already seen the benefits it gives the patients with AIDS/HIV, cancer, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, seizures, and Parkinson’s, and that’s just scratching the surface. Scientists don’t know exactly what or how much cannabinoids can do, but because of their ability to protect cells from free radicals, some even speculate it has power to delay aging. For more information on the endocannabinoid system, read “Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System” by Dustin Sulak.
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Understanding the Components of Medical Weed
Not all weed is the same. Anyone who has smoked even just a few times knows this. While one strain, Sativa, may make you silly, another strain, Indica, makes you tired. A third strain, developed by growers as a hybrid of Sativa and Indica with either Sativa or Indica characteristics dominating, is the most commonly found today. This simple understanding of medical weed, a choice between two strains and a hybrid that offer two different effects, may be enough for the recreational user. However, for those learning how to select medical marijuana for the medical relief, it’s much more complicated than that. Cannabis, in fact, contains more than 400 different chemicals and more than 80 different cannabinoids each providing differing results. Knowing how to select medical marijuana for your condition will help you treat your ailments with precision.
The two main chemicals found in medical marijuana are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). When marijuana manufacturers process medical cannabis to make oils and other products, the chemicals they are trying to isolate are THC and CBD. CBD and THC make up the highest concentration of cannabinoids found in the plant.
Types of Medical Marijuana Found on the Market Today
While some medical marijuana smokers simply prefer to smoke marijuana using the traditional method, each state has differing laws on the form in which it can be distributed and used. For example, both New York and Florida have legalized medical marijuana but have also outlawed it as a smoked product, but in California, it’s perfectly legal to smoke weed with a marijuana license and soon for recreation. Your state may have similar restrictions, so you should know the law in your state as well as how to select medical marijuana for use before buying it.
Plant: Medical cannabis in plant form is most often smoked, but it can also be vaporized or cooked into an edible. When smoked, the plant gives patients the benefits of its whole form including both THC and CBD cannabinoids and the myriad of other chemicals found in the plant. Some researchers also believe that the heat from burning it actually activates some of the chemicals. Furthermore, smokers get the added benefit of terpene pinene which seems to amplify the effects of THC, and linalool which, when combined with CBD, has a greater impact on anxiety and seizures.
Oils: Oils can be ingested through the mouth using a dropper, smoked from a vaporizer, eaten as an edible, or rubbed on the skin. Oils come in a variety of concentrations of CBD and THC depending on the product you purchase. In fact, some oils made from hemp contain CBD only, carrying no THC and giving none of the THC benefits.
One way to narrow down your choice in oil is to decide which concentration you need. Hemp oils by themselves contain no THC or CBD and are generally made from hemp fiber seeds, but when digested they have great sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and can also be used in CBD oils to regulate dosage. CBD oils, made from the hemp fibers, contain CBD but no more than trace amounts of THC (less than .02%). Marijuana oil, also known as THC oil and cannabis oil, comes from female marijuana plant and generally has high THC levels.
Edibles: Years ago, the most popular edible was the brownie, but lately many different types of edibles have entered the market including candies, mints, cookies, ice cream, and even pizza. In fact, health conscious individuals can infuse it in granola, quinoa, and other healthy products. The difference between the effects of smoked marijuana and edibles includes how the body processes them. Smoked, marijuana goes straight to the brain, bringing on a faster effect that also leaves the body quicker. Edibles, on the other hand, have to pass first through the stomach and then the liver, making them take longer to both take effect and diminish.
Pill: As more information comes out regarding medicinal marijuana, more pharmaceutical companies will jump the pill developing band wagon. Currently one pill, Marinol (also known as Dronabinol), is given to patients with cancer and AIDS to reduce nausea and vomiting and increase appetite, but Marinol is not actual marijuana but rather a synthetic, man-made form of medical marijuana. Some dispensaries and medical marijuana online sites provide more natural medical cannabis in capsule form.
Sublingual Sprays and tinctures: Sublingual sprays and tinctures extract cannabinoids using ethanol alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) to create a tincture that can be dropped or sprayed under the tongue. These tinctures come in varying levels of CBD and THC.
is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. As such, when taken without the presence of THC, there is little or no difference in mood, and when in a higher concentration than THC, it can somewhat balance the high that THC provides. In other words, CBD won’t make you high. Medical marijuana growers have produced strains of marijuana that have high concentrations of CBD with very low concentrations of THC. One such strain is Charlotte’s Web.
This combination is idea for treating children. In fact, you can read many stories on the internet and in the news that demonstrate its effectiveness on children with seizures. In addition, for cancer, CBD helps nausea and vomiting associated with Chemotherapy and it’s believed to have the ability to kill cancer cells. While it doesn’t have the mood altering effect that THC has, it can help with psychosis, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, it can help with inflammation and diseases that damage neurons such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
In addition to being able to extract CBD oils from marijuana, producers can also extract it from hemp. When taken from hemp, it is not illegal and can be purchased in all states as well as ordered online from foreign countries. CBD extracted from marijuana, on the other hand, can only be purchased in states that have legalized buying medical marijuana for medical or recreational use.
THC, the more popular of the two chemicals found in marijuana because of its mind-altering effects, was first isolated in Israel in 1964 by Doctor Mechoulam, then a post-doctoral student. It’s the chemical in marijuana that causes the “high” that recreational users seek. Because of its psychoactive properties, THC has undergone much scrutiny over the years, but that hasn’t stopped its medical legalization followed by a great deal of research which has revealed that THC has many medical benefits.
The most obvious finding may be that THC can induce sleep, making it preferred over sleeping pills by many people because it doesn’t give them a groggy feeling the next day, and as with CBD, it can also reduce inflammation and relieve the nausea and vomiting that comes with cancer treatments. Additionally, research has shown that it can kill cancer cells, but it has another positive effect that can help both cancer and HIV patients. As anyone who has smoked marijuana knows, it stimulates the appetite to give what many call the munchies.
By studying THC though, researchers have also discovered some other more surprising benefits to medical science. For example, THC can stimulate central nervous system pathways, blocking pain messages to the brain. It also reduces pressure in the eyes caused by glaucoma. More interestingly, smoking medical cannabis may relieve asthma sufferers from attacks.
Finally, it seems THC’s newest contribution to medicine may be to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers. The same high that causes THC its controversy also causes short-term memory loss, a benefit to those trying to forget the trauma of a bad experience. THC helps relieve them of flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares.
The THC/CBD Combination
It’s important to note, though, that in some cases a combination of both THC and CBD provides the best results. For example, as mentioned earlier, both THC and CBD relieve nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, and researchers, after studying animals and brain tumor cells now believe that both of the chemicals can also kill cancer cells. Certain types of cancer cells, however, had a greater response to THC while others responded better to a combination of both THC and CBD. Regardless of the THC or CBD levels, normal, non-cancerous cells had no adverse side effects.
When selecting medical marijuana, consider whether THC or CBD or a combination of both is best for your condition. Look for a higher concentration of the chemical that will help you most so that you can use less. You can experiment with different potency levels and CBD to THC concentrations, logging the effects until you find a strain that suits you. Log how the drug affects your pain levels, nausea, tremors, or any other condition you are trying to treat both before and after medicating as well as your mood when you medicate. Don’t discount low effectiveness when pain is particularly high that day or your mood is on a downside. Rather compare your current state with the level of the difference the medicine has made.
Occasionally, you might consider taking a break from medicating or switching strains to enhance the effectiveness. Also, remember when buying medical marijuana online, some growers spray pesticides on their product, so if organic marijuana is available, that is the better choice.
To get the most out of selecting medical marijuana, you need to select the right strain for your condition. When going to dispensaries or buying medical marijuana online, you can find those strains, but the selection is so vast that it’s easy to get lost in the process. While a budtender can help you make selecting medical marijuana easier, only you know your desired outcome. With the right understanding of your condition and by knowing the difference between Sativa, Indica, and hybrids and the power of THC and CBD, you can pick a dispensary or online medical marijuana strain that gives you the best medical cannabis experience available.
Before taking any action please consult with licensed medical marijuana doctors online.
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