How Medical Marijuana Works
The Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis and Cannabinoids
There are over 400 natural compounds in medical marijuana and, of these, eighty are only found in cannabis plants. These eighty special compounds are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids relieve symptoms of illness by attaching to receptors in the brain that look for similar compounds that occur in the human body, such as dopamine.
There are five major cannabinoids in medical marijuana that are particularly effective for relieving symptoms of illness, and each one produces different physical and psychological effects. This is why certain strains of medical marijuana are bred to have different amounts of each cannabinoid and are recommended for different conditions.
Major Cannabinoids in Medical Marijuana
What THC Is and Its Effects
THC stands for delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol. It is probably the best known cannabinoid present in medical marijuana. Physically it acts as a muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory and psychologically it acts as a stimulant. This makes medical marijuana strains high in THC a good choice for patients who need relief while also to remain alert and active.
THC in medical marijuana acts in the following ways:
- stimulates appetite
- lowers blood pressure
- apoptosis (self induced cell death)
What CBD Is and Its Effects
CBD stands for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol actually reduces the psychological effects of medical marijuana. For most patients, a strain that has high THC and high cannabidiol will have fewer “mental” effects and more physical ones. High cannabidiol medical marijuana strains, like Blueberry and Harlequin, are especially effective for illnesses with strong physical symptoms.
Cannabidiol’s effects include:
- reduced pain
- reduced anxiety
- reduced nausea
- sedative effects
- arrests the spread of cancer
What CBN Is and Its Effects
CBN is cannabinol, not to be confused with Cannabidiol. Cannabinol is very similar to THC, but has less psychological effects. It is produced as THC breaks down within the medical marijuana plant. High THC will make cannabinol’s effects stronger, and very high cannabinol concentrations can produce undesirably strong head highs. Cannabinol levels tend to be high in medical marijuana strains like
Strawberry Haze and Blue Rhino, which can be particularly helpful for:
What CBC Is and Its Effects
CBC stands for cannabichromene. Cannabichromene’s main action is to enhance the effects of THC. High cannabichromene levels will make a high-THC medical marijuana strain much more potent.
Cannabichromene working together with THC is known to be a:
What CBG Is and Its Effects
CBG is an abbreviation for cannabigerol. Cannabigerol has no psychological effects on its own, and is not usually found in high amounts in most medical marijuana. Scientists believe that cannabigerol is actually one of the oldest forms of cannabinoids, meaning it is essentially a “parent” to the other cannabinoids found in medical marijuana. It also has anti-microbial properties. Cannabigerol has physical effects such as:
Alone, none of the five major cannabinoids are as effective as when they work together. These five cannabinoids also work with the minor compounds in marijuana, and this is probably one reason that medical marijuana replacements like Marinol do not work very well.
Professional medical marijuana growers can analyze their medical marijuana strains to breed and grow medication for patients with the desired range of levels of each major cannabinoid. Using this knowledge of what each compound does helps medical marijuana pharmacists, or budtenders, find the right combination for patients to treat specific conditions and find maximum relief.
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