The Truth About Medicinal Cannabis - Part 1

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Our wish is, among other things, to publish articles on the healing effects of cannabis and its use in medicine. There is a lot of rumors and ambiguities surrounding cannabis and its positive effect on human health, and access to serious information from credible sources is not as simple as it might seem at first glance.

In this first part, we will take a closer look at the tooth distribution of individual varieties of cannabis. Does it seem unnecessary to you? Believe me, it's not. Although Czech growers and marijuana users are relatively well educated and informed, many of them are based on partially inaccurate and slightly distorted information from the past (see technical cannabis versus cannabis with psychoactive effects, both of which may be Cannabis).

Medicinal cannabis - basic types

Cannabis is a relatively large plant that grows to a height of between 1.5 and 5.5 meters. The foliage is rather sparse, the leaves are light green and have thin and long blades, the seeds of this hemp are smooth, without spots and without marbling. The effects are more "high" than "stoned" - that is, they are more uplifting, encouraging and stimulating than relaxing and intoxicating. This is due to the high proportion of THC and the low proportion of CBD, which are the two main active ingredients in cannabis.

However, this ratio can be influenced to a large extent by the use of breeding and genetic modification, both in order to reduce the amount of THC (yes, this is technical hemp that contains less than 0.3 % THC) and to increase the THC content and achieving the highest possible psychoactive effects (some varieties have up to 30 % THC).

This plant originating from the east is smaller than Hemp (1.2 to 2.5 m) and has denser foliage, which can be really very lush. The leaves are dark green with broad blades and also much more rounded. The seeds are smooth with a marble pattern. Indian hemp flowers are firm and rich in resin, from which hashish, for example, is made. The effects are more depressing and narcotic than with cannabis. This is due to the relatively high content of CBD.

Precisely because of these peculiarities (due to their narcotic and relaxing properties), Indian cannabis is considered a plant suitable for medical use.

It is a very small plant (30 to 60 cm) with relatively dense foliage. This species grows freely in geographical zones above 30 ° north latitude, where winter occurs early, and therefore, in order for the plant to have enough time to ripen, flowering is very fast and starts earlier. The variety has very weak psychotropic effects - it contains very little THC, but many CBDs, CBGs and other cannabinoids. The genetic material of this plant is used to create self-flowering hybrids (so-called automata).

However, for a plant such as cannabis, the exact typology cannot be determined. There are currently many varieties that are the result of several crosses of the three basic varieties. The varieties thus created were created with very different characteristics. These differ depending on what the cross-breeding was aimed at - early ripening, length of flowering time, volume of yield, psychotropic or therapeutic effects, or even resistance to disease.

Hybrids

For completeness, we will list the last group that appears in some way in the information about cannabis. Who doesn't know famous models such as Jack Herer, White Widow, Northern Lights, Haze, Nebula, Icecream, Kush… These are hybrids that have evolved (have been bred) from various genetic materials and are more resistant than pure species (a phenomenon called heterosis). They are usually best for growing in an artificial environment (indoor), because their selection and crossing takes place in such an environment. However, they can usually be grown outdoors, because they ripen before the winter.

The creation of hybrids also makes it possible to combine interesting flavors with strong effects while maintaining a relatively short flowering time, which is interesting not only for recreational smokers, but also in terms of the medical use of cannabis. It is possible to influence the ratio of individual cannabinoids, which affects the course and nature of the change in the user's consciousness. More important for our series, however, is that it primarily determines the healing effect of the variety and thus the suitability of its use in various diseases and problems.

When deciding on the suitability of the use of individual varieties, the content of two main active substances - THC and CBD - is crucial. Strains (varieties) with a high THC content in combination with a low CBD content (varieties with a predominance of Sativa) evoke a euphoric and energizing state, thinking and imagination develops, and user activity increases. In English, this condition is called "high". If the strain contains a lot of THC and at the same time a lot of CBD (varieties with a predominance of Indica) they induce peace and relaxation, the thinking calms down, the activity slows down and the user can feel the need for sleep. The English also have a rather apt designation for this condition - "stoned".

Hemp resin is mainly used in the processing of plants for recreational and medical purposes. It is found on the surface of all plants of the genus Cannabis. Its concentration varies according to the variety, sex and part of the plant from which we obtain it. The resin is produced by glandular cells, so-called trichomes, and you can find it most on the flowers (sticks) of unpollinated female plants. The resin contains more than 120 active ingredients - the basis are cannabinoids, essential oils, terpenes and alkaloids.

 

It is clear from the number of substances that cannabis treatment cannot be compared with substances that are officially described by doctors and researchers as cannabis drugs - these usually contain only a few active substances (in some cases even THC alone) compared to cannabis plants. Although the effects of these drugs are indisputable, the approach of Western medicine remains such that one is not treated as a whole, but doctors focus on one particular problem and do not address other circumstances and influences (unlike traditional Chinese medicine, for example).

Dronabinol / Marinol, Nabilon / Cesamed, Bediol, Bedrocan or Bedrobinol are currently officially patented and used drugs from synthetically produced THC or from natural THC and CBD.

In several countries, real marijuana (dried cannabis flower) is already distributed on prescription - these are Canada, several US states, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands or Switzerland.

So far, Sativex from the United Kingdom is available in the Czech Republic, which is indicated as a drug for spasticity in multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain and for pain and nausea in oncological diseases. However, it is not covered by health insurance companies and the cost of treatment with this product is not small. Packaging for one month (about 300 doses) costs around 8,000 crowns. When comparing the cost of Sativex treatment and the cost of growing natural cannabis, few (if anyone) opt for an officially authorized route. I will not go into detail here about how the distribution of medical cannabis authorized in our country (does not) work. It's a topic for another and really long article. If I had to outline the situation very briefly, then I can only say one thing - there is no such thing in the reality of the Czech Republic and patients in the pharmacy will not get cannabis!

The topic of physicians 'and politicians' approaches to patients would also be published in at least one separate article, so we will end this passage by stating that the view of Western medicine is (perhaps) slowly changing. We will see what the future brings.

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As we have already mentioned, cannabis contains more than 120 active substances - in the following paragraphs we will take a closer look at some of them.

CANABINOIDS - active substances in medicinal cannabis

is a major psychoactive ingredient in cannabis and is of great importance in the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. This substance is insoluble in water but dissolves well in fats and alcohol. The word "dissolves" as used herein means the ability of THC to form a homogeneous compound with a fat or alcohol. As we have already mentioned, THC is currently produced from synthetic substances under the names Marinol or Dronabilon. Basic effects of THC: it is psychoactive, analgesic, neuroprotective, acts against nausea and muscle cramps and increases appetite.

modulates the psychoactive effect of THC, alone has a mild sedative effect. Its significant therapeutic effects have recently been widely studied. It has been medically shown to relieve cramps, inflammation, anxiety and nausea while inhibiting the growth of tumor cells. Recent studies have shown that cannabidiol is as effective as antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia. Studies have also shown that it can relieve the symptoms of dystonia (involuntary muscle contraction that causes abnormal movements and postures).

it is formed by the decomposition of THC molecules in poorly stored and dried hemp (exposure to light, heat, air). Its content in the product therefore increases at the expense of THC. It has only mild psychoactive effects - it is more of a slip and confusion. The use of CBN in medicine is rather marginal, its activity at receptors works similarly to THC, but with a much weaker effect.

it is not psychoactive, but it has a healing effect (bone marrow cancer, shin ulcers, shingles, destroys surface bacteria, suppresses cell growth, stimulates bone growth).

modulates THC, has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. There are very few data on the effects of THCV on humans, however, it is known from animal experiments that it acts faster than THC and its effect also fades faster.

it does not have psychoactive effects on its own, but probably affects the course of intoxication (it occurs in highly potent plants and is therefore thought to act synergistically with THC - it increases its effectiveness). However, so far there is very little data on this substance.

it probably does not have psychoactive effects and does not affect the condition after ingestion of THC. The medical effect on humans is unknown.

And how do cannabinoids work together in humans? The list of effects is really long (unless you want to believe it), so we select only the most important and interesting ones.

The action of cannabinoids in the human body

  • Analgesically - painkillers
  • Antispasmotic - against cramps
  • Antiepileptically - against epilepsy (seizures)
  • Neuroprotectively - has a positive effect on nervous tissue
  • Neuroproliferatively - supports the growth of nerve tissue
  • Antimetically - against nausea
  • Bronchodilation - airway dilation
  • Anti-inflammatory - anti-inflammatory effect
  • Antiviral - against viruses
  • Antibacterial - against bacteria and microbes
  • Anti-glaucoma - reduces intraocular pressure
  • Immunosuppressive - suppresses the body's immune response
  • Antidiabetically - lowers blood sugar
  • Prokinetically - accelerates the intestinal passage
  • Vasorelaxant - relaxes blood vessels
  • Anxiolytically - against anxiety
  • Antipsychotic - against psychosis
  • Osteostimulatory - promotes bone growth
  • Antiproliferatively - prevents the proliferation of cancer cells
  • Antimetastatic - against the spread of tumor cells
  • Antiangiogenically - against the formation of new blood vessels in the tumor
  • Apoptotically - causes spontaneous destruction of cancer cells

The previous statement also shows the specific use of medicinal cannabis. Cannabis undoubtedly has a positive effect on various neurological diseases. The effects of cannabis on multiple sclerosis (a chronic autoimmune disease in which the brain and spinal cord are demyelinated) are best known to the public. Multiple sclerosis and the hope for prescription cannabis patients are also one of the most frequently mentioned arguments in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Research looking at the effects of cannabis on Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's dementia (neurodegenerative disease), Epilepsy (seizure disorder), Tourette's syndrome (hereditary neuropsychological disease), Huntington's disease (hereditary neurodegenerative disease), neuropathic pain, migraine, is also promising. Cluster headache ", dystonia (cerebral palsy) and brain and spinal cord trauma.

However, these are not only neurological diseases, but also diseases associated with the immune system response, such as allergies, asthma, atopic eczema, Crohn's disease (autoimmune inflammation of the colon) or rheumatoid arthritis.

Oncological diseases for which the positive effect of cannabis has already been safely proven, for example in prostate, skin, breast, brain and other types of cancer, are also very often discussed. However, the effectiveness of treatment varies according to the type of cancer. The use of cannabis in the treatment of these problems seems very promising.

In combination with psychotherapy, patients with psychiatric disorders such as depression, obsession, anxiety, ADHD (hyperkinetic disorder) or psychosis can be helped.

Other diseases that cannabis can help treat: diabetes, Hypertension, skin diseases, Anorexia (currently only palliative in Israel - the aim is to relieve the patient of death at a stage when his metabolism is catabolic and the process can no longer be stopped), anorexia ( supportive treatment for oncological diseases, organ transplantation or antiviral treatment for AIDS), insomnia, obesity, burns, inflammation (antibiotic and antiviral effects), glaucoma (glaucoma - increased intraocular pressure).

That's enough, isn't it? Does anyone else doubt the usefulness of cannabis and that its constant outlawing is nonsense? I can say for myself that it just doesn't bother me.

In any case, we will continue to write this series and bring you more information about the healing effects of cannabis. I am sure that in our new series, in which I work with cannabis doctor Jana Budařová, you will find a lot of useful and interesting information.

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