A Simple Overview of Medical Marijuana
Understanding the Endocannabinoid System
Over recent years, marijuana has become a hot topic as a means of treating a wide range of health conditions. Part of the reason that this phenomena has existed is rooted in a beautiful discovery that occurred in the 1990’s.
In 1964, a talented Israeli scientist, Dr Raphael Mechoulam, whilst examining the marijuana plant (cannabis), was able to isolate components of the plant and discovered the first cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabinol, widely known as THC. This discovery helped to understand the psychotropic effects of marijuana and opened the door to much more research.
Several decades later, perhaps one of the most startling discoveries in modern times occurred. Scientists discovered that humans have an endocannabinoid system and that this system is filled with receptors, known as CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. The function of these receptors is to interact with the cannabinoids found in marijuana.
The truly great discovery was understanding the purpose of the endocannabinoid system, and here is the kicker – the role of the endocannabinoid system is to regulate and modulate homeostasis.
Let’s break that down. Homeostasis, is the state of balance and well-being in humans! Simply put, cannabinoids in marijuana work with your natural system (endocannabinoid system) to create well-being.
Science is very closely examining this beautiful plant and its role in human wellness and the early studies are very promising. The basis is simply that the plant contains natural phytocannabinoids (plant based cannabinoids) that work with individual human systems to create wellness.
Over the years since Dr Mechoulam discovered the first cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), science has found that there are many cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. The only one that is responsible for getting people ‘high’ is THC.
You may have heard much discussion about one of the other cannabinoids that is receiving huge attention internationally. Cannabidiol! This compound is widely known and the reason for its popularity is that it is linked with the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions including anxiety, chronic pain, Dravet syndrome and even childhood epilepsy. The research is still emerging, however the promise is exciting.
It drew worldwide attention when a young girl, (Charlotte Figi, born October 18, 2006) suffering from epilepsy was treated by a type of marijuana oil rich in cannabidiol and without any THC. Dr Sanjay Gupta from CNN bought the story to light in a special documentary and intruded the world to the Stanley Brothers, makers of the medical marijuana oil known as Charlotte’s Web. (full documentary).
Over the past years, various cannabinoids have become known for the treatment of seizures, pain, and anxiety and as an anti-inflammatory, it’s been used for the treatment of nausea and is an anti-oxidant. Research is also emerging on its anti-tumor properties for treating cancer.
Early forms of treatment in modern times (bearing in mind that marijuana has been a medicine in many cultures for thousands of years) came from products called marijuana oil or from hemp based products known as hemp oil. Hemp, being a derivative of the cannabis plant with strong low THC properties
Nowadays there is a myriad of ways to take marijuana – for medicinal or for recreational. Below is a few methods of ingestion of marijuana and its derivatives. Of course the principle method of consuming marijuana is through smoking, this way involves heating the biomass of the plant, traditionally the flowers causing an effect called decarboxylation. This process releases the therapeutic properties of the plant during heating and inhalation.
Other ways that have become very popular to consume marijuana is via extractions of Hemp Oil in various ways through tinctures, and vaporizers. There is also a range of marijuana edibles, including gummy bears.
Using industrial-grade hemp to produce rich topical products for use on the skin has been very popular in recent times. The biggest uptake of marijuana in medical or health consumption has come from oils in concentrates often made from pure extracts directly from the cannabis plant.
The main take away from this little overview is that humans have an endocannabinoid system that regulates homeostasis and that system is activated by the cannabinoids found in marijuana.
Of course the best form is always organic to consume your marijuana – regardless of how you ingest it.