Introduction to Cannabis
Cannabis is a plant with many potential purposes: seeds can be eaten; the stalks can form paper and clothing; its leaves, flowers have medicinal potential. The female plants grows flowers, or buds, that are most often used for human consumption. These flowers have little clear white crystals called trichomes which emit fragrant oils called Terpenes as well as the therapeutic cannabinoids including THC, CBD, and CBG. These organic chemical compounds along with terpenes, make up the building blocks of the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the 111 cannabinoids found in cannabis. After THC, CBD is the second most common cannabinoid in marijuana. This cannabinoid is known to effectively treat inflammation, pain, and anxiety—but delivers no euphoric “high” like THC. CBD has value in treating conditions including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two serious and rare forms of epilepsy. Importantly, it delivers no euphoria.
As far back as 2900 B.C. cannabis appears to have been cultivated for medicinal purposes. Cannabis’ impact on the human body can be credited, in large part, to what are called Cannabinoids. These chemical compounds are secreted by the plant’s trichomes that offer a wide array of potential therapeutic benefits. The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Cannabinoids bind to receptor sites in the brain and body – this system of receptors is referred to as the Endocannabinoid System.
While THC has a strong binding affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors, cannabidiol (CBD) has no particular binding affinity. Instead, many of the therapeutic benefits of CBD are created through indirect actions.
CBD, has been shown to help patients suffering from pain, nausea, sleep and stress disorders, as well as stress relief, anxiety, inflammatory conditions and epilepsy. Cannabis contains at least 85 different cannabinoids and more research as to how they might be used to treat a wide range of ailments. Of course, adverse effects may also be recognized. In contrast to THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects.
- Inhalation – smoking or vaporizing and inhaling through the lungs (joints, glassware, and vaporizers).
- Ingestion – the cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted from the flower as oil and then either ingested as-is, combined with another medium like food, or processed into pills, gel caps and other traditionally-seen medicinal forms that can enable very precise and controlled dosing experiences (edible baked goods, pills, capsules and tinctures). This method can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours or longer to realize an effect.
- Oral absorption – the extracted oil is combined with another medium. The finished product is kept in the mouth while it dissolves under the tongue, on the tongue or through the inner cheek (mints, lozenges and breath strips).
- Topical – the extracted oil is combined with a product that is applied to the skin (lotion, ointments and transdermal patches).