Cannabis. The sound of it triggers widely different reactions from people across the world. This is primarily a consequence of the idea of it being a ‘drug’ coupled with the long ongoing debate over the legalisation of it, in different parts of the world. Although many countries have legalised it, it will not be wrong to say that they have not accepted it. The driving cause behind it has been the fact that, while intensive research has been conducted to draw the ills of the cannabis plant, there has been a dissipated approach towards gathering evidence about the benefits of it. Hence, in a country like India, cannabis otherwise known as weed, marijuana, ganja, etc can be easily passed as a ‘sign of danger’. Any person associated with it, in any manner, either needs to face stern action or needs to be kept away from. In order to combat this mentality and establish a balanced opinion about the plant, it is paramount that the general public be made aware of the working of cannabis, as a drug, in one’s body.
Medicinal Cannabis, a much lesser known term in the country, is made up of over 400 chemical compounds ranging from cannabinoids, terpenoids, etc. to fatty acids. The research into medicinal cannabis, still being at a nascent stage, has distinctly identified only two of the 61 cannabinoids, delta-9 tetrahydro-cannabinol or THC and Cannabidiol or CBD, respectively. THC, recognised for its intoxicating effects, has been proven to act on CB1 receptors, that are present throughout the body. CB1 receptor is one of the many cannabinoid receptors that is most sufficiently present in the brain. It’s effect is thus, felt significantly in the brain as THC, being an active constituent of cannabis, binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain and activates them, giving the much hyped ‘high’ to individuals who consume it. Contrary to the effects produced by THC, CBD, the only other constituent of cannabis that has been studied, is known to contain no pyshcoactive element in it, whatsoever. Hence, does not produce any intoxicating effects.
How Cannabis works in the body
While CB1 receptors are mustered in the brain and the central nervous system of the body, CB2 receptors are spread throughout the body including our heart, kidney, liver, blood vessels, etc. CB1 and CB2 receptors, the only classified receptors among the many other receptors present in the body, form the core of the Human Endocannabinoid System(ECS). Cannabinoids are known for their brisk interaction with this system. Hence, it is necessary to have a brief discussion and understanding about this system.
The Human Endocannabinoid System
The Human Endocannabinoid System, is a complex and crucial system in the body, responsible for maintaining biological balance of the body, when things go awry. ECS, literally, produces molecular cannabinoids endogenously in the body, as and when required, to sustain the body in its ideal conditions. This phenomenon of sustaining the body in its ideal conditions is known as homeostasis. ECS and homeostasis go hand-in-hand, making ECS, an integral part of the body.
CBD and it’s significance
Shifting our focus back to CBD, which is widely recognised for it’s therapeutic potential, apart from having no intoxicating effects, it is also proven to counter the effects of THC on the body. Unlike THC, CBD’s binding affinity to the CB1 receptors, is abysmally low. This is where a line can be drawn between THC and CBD when it comes to these constituents affecting the behavioral mannerisms of an individual, who is a frequent consumer of cannabis. While THC’s psychoactive effects include euphoria, relaxation when taken in lesser dosage, it also leads to anxiety, short term memory impairment when the dosage intake is high and consistent. CBD due to it’s poor binding affinity with CB1 receptors produces the opposite effect of decreasing anxiety and short term memory impairment. In today’s world, where anxiety and depression lead the charts with maximum number of people of suffering from it, cannabis, otherwise considered a stigma, it being useful in contributing towards the cure of anxiety and depression, has come out as a significant revelation.
In addition to this, there has also been scientific proof, discovered recently, about how lower dosage of THC can even lead to inhibition of anxiety. This is because, varying dosage of THC has differring effects on the neural activity of the brain and the nervous system, due to its variation in the capacity of bonding with the receptors.
Cannabis for Therapeutic Purposes
Such discoveries have been potential reasons for encouraging researchers across the world to delve deeper into the use of CPT, i.e, Cannabis for Therapeutic Purposes. Studies have found that the use of cannabis does not contribute to any individual indulging either in self-harm or in harm to others. Experiences in medical practice have substantiated that Dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC, has been effective in uplifting moods and developing a sense of well-being in individuals, when appropriate dosage is taken regularly. When it comes to the use of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD, i.e, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, evidence mainly consists of success stories of patients. Clinical trials and scientific research is yet to be done in this regard.
While Canadian government offers remuneration to its military officers for cannabis use pertaining to treatment of PTSD, U.S has started begetting ways for combined CBT and medication treatment for anxiety and depression patients. Other countries like Czech Republic, Spain, Uruguay, Netherlands have not only initiated their journey but have also recognised important results about the potential of medicinal cannabis. It’s high time, India breaks out of its conventional and conformist mindset and takes steps towards discarding the label of stigma, off cannabis.
Telemedicine in cannabis
As far fetched these terms might sound together, the reality is shifting. While cannabis legalisation policies still remain a hindrance, many places across the world are gradually seeing cannabis being legalised. As both telemedicine and cannabis are rather contemporary subjects, it remains to be seen the evolution of telemedicine in cannabis.
Telemedicine refers to the provision of remote clinical services, via real-time two-way communication between the patient and the healthcare provider, using electronic audio and visual means. In layman’s language, it is online appointment and treatment of the disease of a patient by a doctor.
Medicinal cannabis as well as telemedicine, merge of these relatively new concepts, has been done, as their evolution has been happening on a parallel note. Having said that, telemedicine in cannabis has a lot of scope, that is yet to be studied and explored. In this article, we look at few of the results that have been arrived at, to gain some insight into this relatively new fusion of the concepts.
Telemedicine in India
In a country like India, where 65 percent of the population is rural, telemedicine has proved to be an extremely effective and efficient method of treating people from a distance, as rural India has been bereaved of good health facilities providing a scope for improvement of the telemedicine sector.
In a developing country like India, it is the need of the hour that the new innovations made in the health and wellness sector, reaches to the poor in India, as they need it the most.
Ayushman Bharat Scheme, a government infused finance scheme for the health sector in India, has directed a significant amount of its funds for building infrastructure for the growth of telemedicine in India. It remains to be seen, how patients from the rural areas, react to this modern way of treatment.
Cannabis and telemedicine: A partnership
The link between telemedicine and medicinal cannabis is coming up with medicinal cannabis emerging as a potential therapy for nicotine, alcohol and opioid use disorders. And since these disorders are primarily associated with psychotherapy, giving it over online is convenient.
Studies have revealed that amongst patients availing treatment using telemedicine, patients with drug related disorders have the highest patient satisfaction. Since telemedicine is a cross platform, cross devices method of treatment, the treatment is possible with an immediate effect, across long distances.
Although telemedicine in cannabis, has not yet experienced a full fledged growth, mainly due to the limitations imposed on policies based on both telemedicine as well as cannabis. Setting up a telemedicine appointment as well as prescribing medicinal cannabis, both require a validated license. Doctors not only need to meet the clinical and legal guidelines for each program, they also need to follow their state medical board’s recommendations on how to mix the two. The future of telemedicine in cannabis is hinged on how these policies will be eased in the future.
Word from Hempstreet
As you would have understood about telemedicine in cannabis through this article, it is a topic that is on the path of experimentation and research. In an initial stage like this, it is very important that while purchasing from a cannabis dispensary, make sure you have a full proof prescription after consultation, including the dosage and the form of medicinal cannabis in which it should be consumed, be it CBD oil, cannabis tinctures, etc. In future, with systematic guidelines put in place, let us hope that everyone can avail this opportunity and benefit from the same.
Health benefits offered by THC
THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis. THC, has been fighting a long drawn battle against its bad reputation. While it is infamous for being the component in cannabis that makes one “high”, its benefits have long been sidelined. Medicinal cannabis is made up of over 500 chemical compounds ranging from cannabinoids, terpenoids, etc. to fatty acids. From amongst the 61 cannabinoids that have been identified, THC happens to be one of the cannabinoids that is significantly studied, along with CBD, or cannabidiol. Although there is no denying that THC is psychoactive, this article will help you understand the health benefits offered by THC. With cannabis legalisation surfacing as an obstacle every now and then, it is interesting to see how the benefits of THC have managed to reach users in certain parts of the world.
THC has the chemical formula C21H3oO, with a molecular mass of 314.464 g/mol. While the chemical composition does not differ much from CBD, the arrangement of atoms within THC is different from that of CBD.
These cannabinoids function in a similar manner like that of endocannabinoids, that are produced by our own body. This collateral property of cannabinoids allow them to attach to the receptors present in the body and produce the effect.
Benefits of THC
THC is the cannabinoid responsible for protecting the plants from insects and pests. Historical evidence suggests that THC metabolites were found inside a tomb in Israel, where it was used as an aid by a women for giving birth. Since then, studies have suggested the medicinal use of THC for various diseases. While CBD remains to be the holding ground for medicinal cannabis, CBD without THC cannot produce the desired effect. Let us look at few of the health benefits offered by THC.
- Anti-inflammatory: This condition is associated as a symptom with a whole range of diseases, from arthritis and asthma to pain caused due to chemotherapy. THC has been effective as an aid for each of these diseases, as THC has successfully managed to combat the condition of inflammation.
- Chronic Pain relief: THC has potential uses in treating and alleviating chronic pain. Be it mental pain or physical, anxiety or broken ankle, THC always comes to the rescue and provides a ‘feel-good’ feeling. It is also competent for treatment of muscle spasticity, i.e, easing the pain of spasms in multiple sclerosis.
- Glaucoma: While there have been research results that have pointed out the effect of THC, as an aid for the treatment of glaucoma, any substantial proof is yet to be established.
- Low appetite: THC is also responsible for bringing back appetites – a crucial part of healing for those living with HIV and the side effects of cancer therapy.
- Insomnia: THC has proven to be a potent sleeping aid, with little to no side effects. Results reflect that THC has been able to refurbish a person’s sleep cycle due to its analgesic and anti-anxiety properties that provides the user an enhanced and stree-free sleep. This is mainly due to the property of THC which reduces the amount of REM sleep, or sleep full of dreams and nightmares. This has also made THC particularly useful for PTSD patients.
- Anti oxidant & Anti convulsant: As a powerful anti oxidant, THC has proven efficacious in protecting the skin. THC’s anticonvulsant properties, allows it be a part of almost all medicines that are used to cure seizures.
Ways to take THC for health benefits
THC can be taken in many ways, however the best one for the health are through; Cannabis Oil, Cannabis tinctures, Cannabis edibles and Cannabis capsules.
Through the article, we looked at various health benefits offered by THC. However, before consuming it is advised to consider the possibility of side effects as well as the consultation of a doctor or physician. Seek for reliable sources of information and scientific evidence and decide upon the dosage, before purchasing medications from the cannabis dispensary.
What are cannabis terpenes?
Certain elements of cannabis are highly necessary for an enhanced experience and a better understanding of the kind one consumes. A well-known quality of cannabis is that it affects the mind and behavior when consumed. The main compound that produces such psychoactive effects on individuals is THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Extensive research has been done on this compound. However, there exist a large number of other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenoids in medicinal marijuana that play an important role in helping understand cannabis and its effects. Not a lot of people know about the terpenes present in cannabis. Through this article, we would understand what are cannabis terpenes, and why they matter.
Introduction to terpenes
Are you wondering what terpenes are? Well, you are already familiar with them! Terpenes are the aromatic organic hydrocarbons that are found in a number of plants. The cannabis plant has a variety of compounds and chemicals, and about 140 of them can be classified as terpenes. Often the terms terpene and terpenoid are used synonymously, despite them having different meanings. The difference between the two is that terpenoids are terpenes that are denatured due to chemical modification or oxidization, while terpenes are hydrocarbons.
Terpenes are produced inside the glandular trichomes of the secretory cells of cannabis, with the help of exposure to light. In simple words, they are the aromatic oils that cause different cannabis plants to have distinctive flavors such as: citrus, mint, pine, berry, etc. In cannabis plants, terpenes act as a repellant for predators, and help lure pollinators. Factors such as the climate, age, fertilizers, soil, and exposure to light, influence the development of terpenes in plants. Terpenes are important elements that help distinguish the effects of different cannabis strains.
Different terpenes serve different purposes, for instance, certain terpenes might have relaxing and calming effects on individuals, while some might help them focus properly. Myrcene, one of the known terpenes is present in strains such as Blue Dream and Granddaddy Purple, and helps users relax. Limonene, pinene, linalool, caryophyllene, humulene, etc. are some other known terpenes. Although basic information about terpenes is available, the subject needs more research.
Why are terpenes important?
Terpenes are important for a number of reasons, some of which are discussed below.
- Hightened effects: A paper published in 2011 explored the way in which cannabinoids and terpenes work together in order to boost the effects of each other in our bodies’ endocannabinoid system or the ECS. Therefore, terpenes can help increase or decrease the effects of CBD, THC and other compounds in the body. Terpenes also affect the high and lead to the entourage effect on individuals. For instance, myrcene helps increase the effects of THC.
- Medical benefits: Terpenes have certain medical benefits. Myrcene helps those struggling with insomnia and fatigue, and acts as a sedative. It is also anti-inflammatory, and helps alleviate pain. Another terpene called Limonene has energizing effects on people, and acts as an anti-depressant. It is also used in aromatherapy.
- Taste and Flavor: Terpenes help accentuate the natural flavor of cannabis and vape oils. They help us experience the citrusy, the pine, the berry, and the mint aroma. They are used in essential oils as well.
Word from HempStreet
The information provided above helps one understand what terpenes are and the effects they have on consumption. Terpenes enrich the cannabis plants as well as other plants. They play an important role in the survival of multiple plant species. However, due to minimal research, a lot of its benefits remain unknown. More research is needed in the field, in order to uncover the potential medicinal and therapeutic benefits of terpenes.
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