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What is Medical Cannabis?


For thousands of years, people have turned to the cannabis plant to alleviate a variety of chronic and debilitating conditions. But only recently has mainstream medicine begun to investigate its therapeutic possibilities. Use this section as a primer for an informed conversation with your healthcare provider. Together you can decide if medical cannabis is right for you.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND MEDICAL CANNABIS

The Endocannabinoid System

Every human body possesses a network of receptors and molecules called the endocannabinoid system or ECS. This network helps carry out the chemical and physical processes that maintain health--functions that range from regulating sleep and managing stress, to fighting pain and curbing appetite.

Receptors and Cannabinoids relate

There are two primary cannabinoid receptors, helpfully labelled CB1 and CB2, which can be found in our central nervous system, brain, and organs. These receptors receive and react to certain chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Naturally occuring cannabinoids are known as endocannabinoids, while cannabinoids found in plants are known as phytocannabinoids.

If the body is unable to produce enough endocannabinoids or regulate them properly, the endocannabinoid system may break down, which can alter how our memory, pain management, immune system and other physiological processes function.

The Endocannabinoid System and the Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant consists of numerous naturally occurring cannabinoids, which can step in to revive the ECS. The two main ones are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is psychoactive (affecting the mind), and strains containing THC have been used for pain, nausea, sleep, and stress disorders. Strains that emphasize CBD may help alleviate pain, inflammation, and seizures associated with epilepsy.

CB1
present in central and peripheral nervous system.
CB2
found in the immune system, peripheral organs and tissues.
  • CB1 receptors
    stimulated by both THC and CBN molecules
  • CB2 receptors
    stimulated by THC molecules, CBN molecules, and the terpene beta-caryophyllene

CBD does not directly fit CB1 or CB2 receptors but has powerful indirect effects still being studied. It also stimulates several other receptors, including the serotonin and capsaicin receptors.

Receptor Anatomy Graphic Receptor Anatomy Graphic Receptor Anatomy Graphic Receptor Anatomy Graphic

Two less common cannabinoids:

CBN (produced when THC is exposed to oxygen and often used in combination with THC to induce sleep)
CBG (what CBN and THC are built from and used to treat high fluid pressure in the eye among glaucoma patients)

cannabinoids & symptom relief

Symptom Chart
Symptom Chart
Symptom Chart
Symptom Chart
Symptom Chart
THC
Causes the euphoria associated with cannabis consumption. Most strains are bred to contain high levels of this compound.
THCa
The non-psychoactive chemical precursor to THC. Best known for its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.
THCv
Characterized by its ability to suppress appetite. Commonly associated with energizing effects.
CBC
A non-psychoactive compound with anti-anxiety effects shown to be ten times more powerful than those of CBD.
CBD
Best known for its anti-seizure effects, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound being studied for a wide range of conditions.
CBG
A minor cannabinoid most abundant in live cannabis. Being studied for its neurogenic and antibacterial effects.
CBN
Sedating, slightly psychoactive compound being researched primarily as a treatment for insomnia.

*Do not use the information on this chart for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. While anecdotal evidence exists of a relationship between certain phytocannabinoids in the treatment of illness, no conclusions have been or should be drawn until further legitimate clinical testing has been completed and confirmed.

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