Cannabis is an impressive medicine with numerous options and applications. Strain origins, methods of consumption and dose amount can all produce different medicinal effects. Understanding the plant and it’s uses are important for understanding how best to use this medicine. Here are some cannabis basics to help get you started on your journey.
SATIVA and INDICA
Cannabis is mostly commonly known as either Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica. These two species have differing therapeutic effects and can be mindfully used to treat different symptoms.
By and large, Sativa produces uplifting, stimulating properties, while Indica is known for its relaxing, “body buzz” effects. The beneficial effects of Sativa tend to be shorter lasting in duration and are generally better for daytime use, while Indica, longer lasting, is most often used at night.
Sativa strains are regularly used in treatment of stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD and migraines. Common benefits of Sativa include:
- Increase of concentration and creativity
- Relief of headaches and migraines
- Appetite stimulation and reduction of nausea
- Reduction of depression and anxiety
- Uplifting and cerebral thoughts
Indica strains are frequently used by patients that are suffering from disabilities, injuries, chronic nerve and/or muscle pain as well as insomnia. Common benefits of Indica:
- Aid in better sleep
- Reduction of pain and inflammation
- Relaxes muscles and relieves spasms
- Reduction anxiety and depression
- Pain – help autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and fibromyalgia
Cannabinoids are the active chemical compounds of the plant – or rather, the medicinal ingredients. THC has long been the star and most known cannabinoid, because of its psychoactivity. However, there are over 80 cannabinoids! CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, has been taking more and more of the spotlight, as well as CBC, CBN and CBG. Cannabinoids are most effective when working together.
A drug or medicine that affects the mind, behavior or can alter mood, such as THC, is considered to have psychoactive properties.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD is an important medicinal cannabinoid that produces no “high.” Additionally, CBD reduces the side effects of THC and can be used to balance psychoactive effects. CBD also relieves pain and anxiety, and research has shown it to have antibacterial, anti-convulsive, anti-carcinogenic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, analgesic, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ischemic, antispasmodic, antipsychotic, anti-insomnia and neuroprotection properties.
A topical medication is a one that is applied to a particular place on or in the body, as opposed to ingested. Topical creams, oils and rubs that are made from medical cannabis can be useful for treating skin irritation and inflammation. Both THC and CBD are effective when used topically.
Edibles are food items that have been infused with cannabis, cannabis concentrates, or cannabinoids. Available in a wide range of potencies, caution must be observed when taking any edible cannabis product, since rate of absorption and speed of drug onset varies widely among patients. Always start with a very small piece of an edible.
There is an incredibly wide range of cannabis strains in between Indica and Sativa. Known as Hybrids, these were developed by growers cross-breeding various pure strains of Sativa and Indica from different regions. They can offer the therapeutic benefits of both types and can an be broken down into three primary categories:
Indica-dominant hybrids: These strains have a higher percentage of Indica and lower levels of Sativa. They tend to provide a full-body pain relief, with a relaxing head high. Recommended for nighttime use to go to sleep, or daytime relief from minor pain.
Balanced (or even) hybrids: These have an equal mix of both the Sativa and Indica genes. Theses are ideal strains for people seeking a perfect balance of head and body.
Sativa-dominant hybrids: These strains have a higher percentage of Sativa and lower Indica. They tend to produce a cerebral high with a relaxing body effect. Provides both physical and mental relief.
The endocannabinoid (or EC) system is the reason cannabis medications work so efficiently. Present in all humans and many animals as well, this system consists of a series of receptors in the body that are configured only to accept cannabinoids, especially tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, is the cannabinoid produced by cannabis that is responsible for its psychoactivity. It does this by mimicking the endocannabinoid anandamide, which is produced naturally within the body. Scientific research from around the world suggests that THC has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic, bronchodilator, neuroprotection, anti-carcinogenic, antiemetic, and orexigenic properties.
Terpenes, also known as terpenoids, these are the chemical compounds that give each strain its unique smell. They are the essential oils produced by the plant and they interact synergistically with cannabinoids to provide for a range of different effects. For example, a terpene called myrcene (also found in lemongrass) possesses muscle-relaxing, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory properties, while the terpene pinene (also found in pine needles) can increase mental focus and energy.
Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs that are taken orally. Taken beneath the tongue, tinctures are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and the effects are closer to smoked or vaporized cannabis than conventional cannabis edibles. Tinctures should always be shaken well before they are ingested.