Updated on January 24, 2024

Health Benefits of cannabis

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Key takeaways

  • Cannabis was used as medicine in Ancient Chinese and Roman empires.
  • There are over 120 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
  • Common therapeutic compounds in the cannabis plant include cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
  • Delta 8 THC is the milder version of Delta 9 THC.
  • Cannabis holds several therapeutic benefits including anti-seizure, anticancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial, pain-relieving and sleep improving properties.
  • All compounds in the cannabis plant exhibit different effects on the body.
  • Cannabis can be consumed as oils, tinctures, vapes, topical and edibles.

The cannabis plant has been used for its medicinal benefits for a very long time. Its first use dates back to ancient Chinese and Roman medicine where it was well-known for helping with things like healing wounds and soothing upset stomachs. The real game-changer happened when scientists discovered cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. This opened the door to understanding the plant's power for our health. Today, more and more people are realizing the various benefits of cannabis, from easing pain to reducing anxiety. This article will look at the possible therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant and its components.

Common Therapeutic compounds in the cannabis plant

Scientists have reported the presence of over 500 unique compounds in the cannabis plant with about 120 of them described as cannabinoids. These therapeutic compounds have their own benefits and exhibit unique interactions with our bodies. The most common therapeutic compounds in the cannabis plant are discussed below;

  1. Cannabinoids:

Cannabinoids are a diverse group of compounds found in the cannabis plant, and they share similarities with substances our bodies naturally produce. With over 120 different cannabinoids identified, they play a crucial role in how cannabis affects us, leading to feelings of relaxation or euphoria.

Beyond their role in creating those sensations, cannabinoids also showcase unique therapeutic benefits. They have been studied for their antimicrobial properties, meaning they can help fight against harmful microorganisms. Additionally, cannabinoids show promise in the realms of anticancer and antitumor effects, suggesting potential applications in treating cancer-related conditions. Moreover, they act as antioxidants, combating harmful molecules in the body.

In essence, cannabinoids go beyond the recreational aspects of cannabis use; they hold significant potential for contributing to our well-being and addressing various health concerns.

Common examples of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant include

  1. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), responsible for the psychoactive effects
  2. CBD (Cannabidiol), known for its therapeutic properties
  3. CBG (Cannabigerol), considered a "parent cannabinoid"
  4. CBC (Cannabichromene), non-psychoactive with potential anti-inflammatory effects
  5. CBN (Cannabinol), often associated with sedative effects
  6. THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin), potentially appetite-suppressant
  7. CBDV (Cannabidivarin), similar to CBD with anticonvulsant potential.
  1. Terpenes:

These are aromatic or flavor compounds that contribute to the plant's flavor and aroma. There are over 150 terpenes in the cannabis plant. They may have therapeutic effects, influencing mood, stress, and inflammation. Examples include myrcene, limonene, and pinene.

  1. Flavonoids:

Flavonoids are a group of phytonutrients found in plants, including the cannabis plant. While not as extensively researched as cannabinoids and terpenes, some flavonoids have been identified in cannabis. Common flavonoids in the cannabis plant include: Quercetin, Apigenin, Kaempferol, Cannflavin A and B.

These compounds are known to interact with each other in full spectrum or broad spectrum extracts leading to the entourage effect. The entourage effect is believed to enhance the overall therapeutic effects of the cannabis plant.

Therapeutic benefits of Cannabis

Cannabis, with its various compounds, has been studied for its potential therapeutic benefits across a range of health conditions. Some of the potential therapeutic benefits include:

  1. Pain Management: Cannabinoids like THC and CBD may have analgesic properties, offering relief for chronic pain conditions, neuropathic pain, and inflammatory pain.
  2. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Cannabinoids, particularly CBD, exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, potentially aiding conditions with inflammatory components such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.
  3. Anxiety and Stress Reduction: CBD has anxiolytic properties, potentially helping individuals manage anxiety disorders and stress-related conditions.
  4. Nausea and Vomiting Control: THC has been used to alleviate nausea and vomiting, particularly in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  5. Neuroprotective Properties: Cannabinoids may have neuroprotective effects, showing promise in conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and traumatic brain injury.
  6. Appetite Stimulation: THC, known for its appetite-stimulating effects, is used in medical settings to address appetite loss, especially in conditions like HIV/AIDS and cancer.
  7. Epilepsy Management: CBD has been studied for its anticonvulsant effects, leading to the development of pharmaceutical medications for certain types of epilepsy.
  8. Sleep Aid: Cannabis, especially strains with higher CBD content, may have sedative effects, potentially aiding individuals with insomnia or sleep disturbances.
  9. Muscle Relaxation: THC's muscle-relaxant properties may benefit conditions characterized by muscle spasms, such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries.
  10. Glaucoma Management: THC has been explored for its potential to lower intraocular pressure in individuals with glaucoma, although other medications are often preferred.
  11. PTSD Symptom Relief: Some studies suggest that cannabinoids, particularly CBD, may help alleviate symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  12. Cancer Symptom Management: Cannabis has been used to manage symptoms in cancer patients, including pain, nausea, and loss of appetite.
  13. Anti-Seizure Properties: Certain cannabinoids, especially CBD, have shown promise in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures in individuals with epilepsy.

How to consume cannabis

  1. Smoking:

Smoking is a traditional and direct method involving the combustion of cannabis. Joints are rolled with cannabis flower in a paper similar to a cigarette, while blunts use a cigar wrapper. Inhaling the smoke delivers cannabinoids into the bloodstream, resulting in rapid effects.

  1. Vaping:

Vaporizing cannabis involves heating the flower or concentrates to release vapor without combustion. Vaporizers come in various forms, offering a less harsh alternative to smoking while preserving the flavor profile of the cannabis.

  1. Edibles:

Edibles are food products infused with cannabis extracts or oils. Popular options include gummies, chocolates, and baked goods. The effects take longer to onset compared to smoking or vaping, but they can be more potent and last longer.

  1. Tinctures/oils:

Tinctures are liquid extracts of cannabis, often placed under the tongue for sublingual absorption. This method allows for faster onset as the cannabinoids are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes.

  1. Topicals:

Topical products include creams, balms, or patches infused with cannabis. They are applied directly to the skin and provide localized relief without producing the psychoactive effects associated with internal consumption.

  1. Dabbing:

Dabbing involves inhaling vaporized cannabis concentrates (dabs) using a specialized rig. This method is favored for its potency and quick onset but may require specialized equipment.

  1. Sublingual Products:

Sublingual products, such as dissolvable strips or tablets, are placed under the tongue for rapid absorption. This method offers a discreet and convenient way to consume cannabis.

  1. Transdermal Patches:

Transdermal patches are applied to the skin, providing a controlled release of cannabinoids into the bloodstream. This method allows for a consistent and prolonged effect over time.

  1. Suppositories:

Suppositories are inserted rectally or vaginally for systemic effects. They are designed to deliver cannabinoids without the psychoactive high associated with other methods.

  1. Capsules:

Cannabis-infused capsules provide a measured dose for oral consumption. This method is discreet and allows for precise dosage control.

  1. Beverages:

Cannabis-infused beverages include teas, sodas, and elixirs. These drinks provide an alternative to traditional edibles and may have a faster onset time than solid food products.

Before trying any method, consider factors such as desired effects, onset time, and personal preferences. Start with low doses, especially if you are a beginner, and be aware of the legal status of cannabis in your region.

Is cannabis safe?

Cannabis can be safe when used responsibly and in moderation. It has potential health benefits, but like any substance, it carries risks. Psychoactive effects, impaired cognition, and dependency are concerns.

Is cannabis legal?

Cannabis legality varies globally and regionally. Some countries and states have legalized it for medicinal and/or recreational use, while others maintain strict prohibitions. Local laws dictate possession, cultivation, and distribution. It's crucial to be aware of and comply with the legal status of cannabis in your specific location.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the potential health benefits of cannabis?

Cannabis has been associated with various health benefits, including seizures, pain management, anti-inflammatory effects, stress relief, and potential therapeutic applications for conditions like epilepsy, anxiety, and certain neurological disorders.

Can cannabis help with chronic pain?

Yes, cannabinoids in cannabis, especially THC and CBD, have shown promise in managing chronic pain conditions by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, influencing pain perception and inflammation.

Does cannabis have anti-inflammatory properties?

Yes, cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis may exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, potentially providing relief for conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and others.

Is cannabis effective in treating epilepsy?

CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, has shown promise in managing certain types of epilepsy. Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication, has been approved for specific epilepsy syndromes.

Is cannabis recommended for cancer patients undergoing treatment?

THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, has been used to alleviate nausea and stimulate appetite in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Some studies also explore its potential anticancer effects.

Are there risks associated with cannabis use for health purposes?

While cannabis has potential health benefits, it's essential to be aware of potential risks, including psychoactive effects, impaired cognitive function, and dependency. Individual reactions and legal considerations also play a role.

How can I determine the right dosage and form of cannabis for my health needs?

Finding the right dosage and form of cannabis depends on individual factors such as tolerance, health conditions, and desired effects. It's advisable to start with low doses and explore different consumption methods based on personal preferences.

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