As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, it’s essential to understand how its unique properties affect our bodies. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your health. To put yourself in the best position of receiving the incredible healing properties of cannabis, you need to know how it changes the chemical composition of our bodies. In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about medical cannabis, including:
- Chemical Compounds in Marijuana
- The ECS
- Varieties of medical cannabis
- Potential benefits
The flowers of marijuana produce hundreds of chemical compounds that humans and animals have been taking advantage of for thousands of years. Cannabis buds or flowers are where the magic happens. Fully comprehending what makes cannabis a unique plant with potential medical benefits is critical to choosing the right strain for your particular needs.
The main event. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are chemical compounds derived from cannabis flowers. They can change the chemical composition in our brains, central nervous system, and other vital parts of the body. This chemical change can make users high as well as deliver medical benefits.
There are over 100 known cannabinoids found in cannabis. While THC and CBD are the most notable and abundant, CBG, CBN, and CBC also have unique healing properties.
Terpenes are oils produced by all plants essential for survival. Plants manufacture these aromatic compounds to help deter predators or attract pollinators. While all plants naturally produce terpenes, cannabis plants contain an unusually high concentration.
Cannabis terpenes are what give each strain a distinct aroma. Some flower has strong citrus notes while others smell piney. The different fragrances are thanks to each plant’s terpene profile. Terpenes also have medical benefits, many of which overlap with the healing properties of cannabis.
The Endocannabinoid System
When cannabinoids are introduced to the body, we feel a change. It can be undeniable, like THC, or more sublet, like after taking CBD.
The reason we experience a change is because of the endocannabinoid system of ECS. Scientists believe that the ECS regulates critical bodily functions like mood, memory, appetite, pain, inflammation, and the sleep-wake cycle. Using medical marijuana can create balance in the user’s ECS by interacting with receptors or promoting neurotransmitter production.
Our body naturally produces cannabis-like compounds called endocannabinoids. They send signals to receptors throughout the body, communicating to release chemicals to respond to external events.
The two endocannabinoids we are currently aware of are 2-AG and anandamide.
Cannabinoid (CB) Receptors
CB receptors keep the body in homeostasis. After an external event, cannabinoid receptors release chemicals to keep the body in balance.
If you have an approaching deadline, you may become stressed out; the body will naturally combat these feelings by producing endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters) that activate the CB receptors. People with an endocannabinoid deficiency aren’t activating their CB receptors enough and could have conditions like anxiety, depression, inflammation, or sleep disorders.
Types of Cannabis
The type of medical cannabis you choose can dramatically affect the benefits you experience. When making the decision, make sure you know what conditions you want to treat. Your personal medical issues should influence the type of marijuana you choose.
Indica or Sativa Isn’t Enough
When it comes to your health, simply asking if a strain is ‘indica or sativa’ doesn’t give you enough information to make an informed purchasing decision. When you are at your medical cannabis dispensary, determine the following before choosing a strain:
- Chemical composition – What cannabinoids and terpenes are in the strain, and what are the potency levels?
- User accounts – Ask the budtender, look on Weedmaps, check online reviews. Get as much information as possible from users.
A Flawed Classification System
While some people have access to a doctor who can lead them in the right direction when choosing a medical marijuana product, most people aren’t given this privilege. It’s up to you to research because the current classification system is outdated and oversimplified.
Medical Cannabis Concentrates
Flower isn’t the only way to medicate using cannabis. Tinctures, extracts, and edibles separate the beneficial compounds from the original plant and deliver an efficient, concentrated dose. Choosing a cannabis concentrate is the same process as picking a strain:
- Know your condition
- Check for cannabinoid potency
- Be mindful of terpenes
- Review accounts from users
The Benefits of Medical Cannabis
The ECS regulates a wide variety of critical bodily functions. Medical cannabis can help with these issues, but only if you use the proper ratio of cannabinoids.
High THC Cannabis
According to Healthline, THC is used to help with the following medical conditions:
- Pain management
- Muscle spasticity
- Appetite control
The problem with high THC strains or concentrates is that you will be intoxicated. Many people are looking for the benefits of medical cannabis but can’t be stoned all day. Finding the balance between THC and CBD is key to finding the benefits and psychoactive effects that fit your lifestyle.
Healthline reports that CBD is used for the following:
- Psychosis or mental disorders
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Taking CBD is much different than THC. The ECS is affected by CBD indirectly through enzymes. They regulate the production of endocannabinoids. Experts believe that CBD can inhibit degrading enzymes and increase the levels of endocannabinoids in the ECS.
Medical Marijuana Strains
The optimal medical strains are usually high in CBD, low in THC, and plentiful in terpenes. Famous medical marijuana advocate Dr. Dani Gordon has an incredible YouTube channel discussing what strains or THC:CBD ratios are best suited for specific conditions.
Experience the Medicinal Properties of Cannabis
While medical marijuana is far from a new concept, regulation, prohibition, and misinformation is keeping us from truly understanding the plant’s potential. Unfortunately, it is usually up to the user to find the best product or strain for their specific condition. Knowing your medical needs, how cannabis works, and the chemical makeup are crucial in finding the product most likely to deliver the best results.