Marijuana has a long history as a medicinal plant, likely dating back two millennia, and is one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Medical marijuana works by impacting Cannabis receptors, (better known as Cannabinoid receptors, discovered in the body in the 1980’s). This is known as the Endocannabinoid System which controls appetite, pain control, mood, and memory. There are 2 types of receptors (possibly more), CB1 (in the brain, central nervous system, lungs, liver, kidneys, and other places), and CB2 (in the Immune System and Hematopoietic Cells (stem cells that make other blood cells). There are other receptors that are not cannabinoid and are found in endothelial cells. These cells line the inside of blood vessels lymphatic cells, and other organs. These receptors can control blood pressure and inflammation.
WHAT IS CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the most abundant Phyto cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. (There are over 100 cannabinoids to include THC, see below). It is derived from the mother cannabinoid, Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), and through biosynthesis pathways, becomes CBD. CBD reduces nausea and vomiting, suppresses seizures, treats psychosis, treats inflammation, combats neurodegenerative disorders, prevents the growth of tumors and cancer cells, and can help manage anxiety and depression. It also can modulate the opioid receptors. CBD does not have psychotropic effects. (It does not produce a “high”). CBD also can counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. It has a low affinity for the CB1 or CB2 receptors.
WHAT IS THC?
Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is also a Phyto cannabinol. (there is delta 8 THC and possibly more) It is the main psychoactive substance in marijuana. THC activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The therapeutic effects include pain relief, reduced muscle spasticity, increased appetite, sleepiness, anxiety reduction, a happy feeling and nausea relief.
WHAT IS A MARIJUANA TERPENE?
Terpenes are a component of marijuana that give it that lovely smell, and flavor. Marijuana uses the terpenes for its defense system. Many plants have terpenes, (hops, mango, pine needles, rosemary, basil, black pepper, lemons, oranges, nutmeg, cumin and so on…), and some insects produce terpenes as part of their defense system. The marijuana plant has more than 100 different terpenes! Terpenes have names like Myrcene, Limonene, Pinene … The effects of Terpenes include anxiety reduction, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, reduction of pain, elevate mood, relieve stress, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, alertness, counter acts THC, and many more. Using the marijuana flower to treat your condition can be enhanced with the right terpene profile. Terpenes have a better effect when “heated”, not burned. There are terpene charts on the web that suggest the best temperature settings. The marijuana flower can be used more efficiently with the “Vaporizer”. The vaporizer heats the flower to a selected temperature. The terpenes “respond” better to different temperatures. This does not “burn” the flower.
WHAT IS A MARIJUANA STRAIN?
Strains of marijuana are different “types” of marijuana that have a different spectrum of components or percentages of Cannabinoids and Terpenes. Strains can have different effects on the body and produce different therapeutic effects. The main strains are Indica, Sativa or Hybrid when it comes to medical marijuana. These are the main classifications used to categorize the marijuana plant, based on how the plants grow and generally the type of compounds they contain. Indica strains are said to affect the body and be sedative. Sativa strains are said to have energetic or uplifting effects, Hybrid strains are a mix of both Indica and Sativa and can provide a more balanced effect. Since these strain classifications are very general, always speak to a pharmacist to determine which products might be best for you.
WHAT ARE THE FORMS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA?
There are a variety of ways to take medical marijuana. You can eat it, apply it to a painful area of the body as a topical cream or balm. You can roll the “flower” into a cigarette or use a bong or pipe. You can use a fancy “vaporizer” to vaporize the flower and smoke the cannabis. (This is the best way to smoke the flower cannabis). There are sublingual tablets, lozenges, concentrated oils and tinctures. Dispensaries will have a medical marijuana pharmacist to help you select the appropriate form.
WHAT MAKES MARIJUANA MEDICINAL?
Marijuana has compounds called cannabinoids and terpenes. This is called the “Spectrum”. The effects one experiences using medicinal marijuana come from the spectrum. Some strains can make you feel more euphoric, and some allow you to treat your condition and not feel euphoric. You will learn how to pick products from the dispensary, and the dispensary professionals will help you. Learning this process is not scary when you know what the spectrum of the marijuana product. Many people with different conditions treat their symptoms with the same medicinal marijuana product, because there are overlapping healing properties of the cannabinoids and terpenes.
The Green Alternative Doctor, Robert Fortino, D.O. Medical Director
1822 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145 215-336-8000
129 Johnson Road, Turnersville, NJ 08021, Unit A-3 856-318-4100