Cannabis Education (6)
Over 100 phytocannabinoids have been identified in the cannabis plant, many of which have documented medicinal value. Most are closely related or differ by only a single chemical part. The most talked-about and researched cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for its psychoactive properties (“high feeling”) and cannabidiol (CBD) for its healing properties.
Cannabinoids can be administered by smoking, vaporizing, oral ingestion, transdermal patch, intravenous injection, sublingual absorption or rectal suppository.
Cannabinoids are a diverse set of chemical compounds that bind to special receptors in the human body that make up what is known as The Endocannabinoid System. The “key and lock” metaphor is often used to describe this process. The human body possesses specific binding sites (“locks”) on the surface of many cell types, and our body produces several endocannabinoids (“keys”) that bind to these cannabinoid receptors (CB) to activate or “unlock” them.
In 1992, researchers detected an endogenous substance that binds to cannabinoid receptors for the first time. This substance, known as anandamide, comes from the Sanskrit word “Ananda” for bliss and “amide” due to its chemical structure. A second endocannabinoid was discovered in 1995, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These two endocannabinoids are the best studied so far.
Cannabinoids (e.g., THC and CBD) are the chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation. These work their medicinal magic by imitating compounds our bodies naturally produce, called endocannabinoids, which act to maintain internal stability and health. To put a complex system simply, they mediate communication between cells, and when there is a deficiency or problem with our endocannabinoid system, unpleasant symptoms and physical complications occur.
Have you ever wondered why cannabis has a such a distinct smell? Well, blame it on the Terpenes. Terpenes provide each plant with a distinctive scent or essence. Like roses or spices, different strains of Cannabis have unique odors ranging from sweet to acrid and skunky to floral.
The words terpene and terpenoid are increasingly used interchangeably, although these terms do have different meanings. The main difference between terpenes and terpenoids is that terpenes are hydrocarbons (meaning the only elements present are carbon and hydrogen); whereas, terpenoids have been denatured by oxidation (drying and curing the flowers) or chemically modified.
Terpenes are synthesized in cannabis in secretory cells inside glandular trichomes, and production is increased with light exposure. These terpenes are mostly found in high concentrations in unfertilized female cannabis flowers prior to senescence (the condition or process of deterioration with age). The essential oil is extracted from the plant material by steam distillation or vaporization. Many terpenes vaporize around the same temperature as THC (which boils at about 157°C), but some terpenes are more volatile than others. Terpenes also play an incredibly important role by providing the plant with natural protection from bacteria and fungus, insects, and other environmental stresses.
Though marijuana has been used as a medicine in various cultures around the world, it is only in the last 3 decades that researchers have begun compiling clinical evidence of the incredible medical benefits of the 113 known chemical structures known as cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant and have been isolated for further studies.
The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. Among the extracts that have shown to be the most effective in treating a wide array of symptoms include:
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): this is the principal cannabinoid in cannabis and the one directly responsible for the elevated or “high” effect associated with cannabis use.
Cannabidiol (CBD): this is the principal non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Results from dozens of clinical studies have suggested CBD has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-nauseant, anti-emetic, anti-psychotic, anti-ischemic, anxiolytic and anti-epileptiform effects.
Recent reports indicate over 100,000 people have already registered for Florida’s medical marijuana program. According to the Florida Department of Health’s website, those patients now have access to 34 dispensaries dotted across the state. Those dispensaries are all operated by 13 permit holders.
The current list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Florida includes cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, with room left for similar conditions and terminal patients to get access as needed.
There are three classes of the flowering Cannabis plant. Today we will discuss Cannabis Sativa vs. Cannabis Indica. Sativa tends to be rich in THC while Indica tends to be abundant in other cannabinoids. Indica strains generally provide a sense of deep body relaxation. Sativa strains tend to provide a more energizing experience. If you want a combination of the two in a variety of ways the strain is called a hybrid.