Cannabinoids – What You Need to Know
The medicinal benefits of cannabis are attributed to the chemicals found in the marijuana flower. These chemicals are known as cannabinoids and there are over 66 different ones. The effects of all 66 is still being researched, but studies have demonstrated that different cannabinoids provide medicinal benefits for a diverse range of ailments.
To understand more about medicinal marijuana and how it can help you, let’s dig a little deeper into the 5 most potent cannabinoids commonly used, beginning with THC.
Why Does THC Get You High
When THC is released into your bloodstream, it reaches your brain in mere seconds.
Your brain has cannabinoid receptors, and it does have the ability to produce its own dosage of cannabinoids, however, due to modern diet, we may not produce the cannabinoids we need naturally, and hence the benefit of topping up natural production with a little help from nature.
The cannabinoid receptors in the brain are found in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and basal ganglia; these are the areas responsible for the thinking process, memory, motor movements, pleasure, coordination and concentration. It also affects how information is processed in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memories, which is why people who smoke pot are often perceived as forgetful, although there are no conclusive studies on long term loss of memory.
So, what were we talking about, oh, yes. The reason the THC molecules bind to these receptors is due to their unique shape.
Yes, Mother Nature designed the endocannabinoid system like a puzzle, and just like a key must fit the lock to open it, the shape of the cannabinoid must fit the receptor to be effective, and to ensure against break ins by unsuitable molecules.
Once attached the THC stimulates the brain cells to release dopamine, the feel good hormone and the one responsible for feelings of great love, peace and joy, and it can alter our perception of time. And in extremely high dosage, it can cause hallucinations for some people. This is why THC gets you high, but CBD wont. CBD just doesn’t reach the parts of the endocannabinoid system that THC can.
Negative side effects may include paranoia and anxiety, heart palpitations and nausea, however, these negative side effects may be avoided by altering the strain, dosage or even how you feel at the time.
How Much THC Should You Take?
Accurate dosage can be difficult when ingesting or inhaling marijuana without medically prescribed dose. The strength and length of the effect depends on the strain of cannabis and how you take it.
Cannabis strains with a THC level of over 20 percent are considered quite potent, and the levels of THC in each strain and each plant vary with genetics, growing conditions and environmental effects.
And just like alcohol, sugar, or caffeine, the amount that works for you will depend on body weight, tolerance, and state of mind.
THC is currently being used for a variety of illnesses including:
- Glaucoma: Surprisingly, THC is effective in the treatment of this eye disease. Smoking THC reduces blood pressure in the eye after 60-90 minutes. And a reduction in intraocular pressure can reduce damage to nerves in the eye and slow the progress of vision loss.
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Not so surprisingly, a 1997 study conducted by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found THC improved appetite loss and behavioral disturbances associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- IBS: THC can slow down the body’s production of inflammatory chemicals, cytokines and chemokines, and has proven effective in the treatment of Crohn’s disease. A 2013 trial demonstrated that 115 mg of THC taken twice a day for 8 weeks, resulted in complete remission for 45% of patients.
Brain Injury: Due to the the neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of THC, Scientists discovered patients who suffered from a traumatic brain injury were more likely to survive if THC was present in their system at the time of the injury. Prevention is better than cure people!
- Chronic Pain: THC is an important element in the relief of pain. Test studies where patients were given THC or a placebo demonstrated that THC offered the ability to cope with pain and feel a reduction in pain.
- Multiple Sclerosis: Studies and clinical trials conducted by the British Medical Society have proven that patients who were treated with THC had significantly lower pain intensity and that it improved spasticity.
THC is still federally illegal, but luckily synthetic versions of the chemical have been developed.
Marinol is commonly prescribed for the treatment of nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and weight loss in HIV/AIDS, and as the economic benefits of marijuana keep rolling in, more drug companies will invest in research and development of the truly miraculous marijuana plant.
What Are the Other Major Cannabinoids?
We thought you’d never ask, these are the other cannabinoids currently being tested and used. However, with a total of 66, there are a lot more benefits yet to be discovered.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most popular chemical used in medical marijuana, mostly because it won’t get you high, but it is still highly effective in the treatment of pain, inflammation, stress and epilepsy, nausea associated with chemotherapy, lowering blood sugar and calming anxiety.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is actually like the stem cell of the cannabinoids. It does not hold any THC but it can develop THC or THVC. CBG can be used in place of aspirin, ibuprofen and other drugs used to combat inflammation without stressing the liver or kidneys.
Cannabichromene (CBC) has medicinal effects similar to CBD, but is more effective in treating anxiety and stress, it slows tumor growth, stimulates bone growth and eases headaches. It won’t get you high, but a study from the University of Mississippi demonstrated that CBC actually promotes brain growth.
Cannabinol (CBN) is derived from THC and actually occurs when THC has been exposed to oxygen provides heavy sedation and strong pain killing effects. However, because of its heavy tranquilizing effect, any sensation of feeling ‘high’ is quickly replaced by sleepiness. Great for treating insomnia.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) sounds similar to THC, and the molecule shape is almost identical, and they both produce tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects, but THC and THCV are different, and they do produce different effects on the body. While THC induces an appetite and is often used for cancer patients who need to stimulate an interest in eating, THCV suppresses appetite and is currently being researched as an anti-obesity drug. THCV is more potent than THC and is responsible for a more psychedelic high.
THCV helps reduce tremors resulting from Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological disorders.
Like all drugs, foods, and substances ingested, inhaled, or injected, the effects of cannabis are subject to many influences.
Good food, good thoughts, and good living, just like good drugs, will always help deliver good results.
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