Cannabis in Botanical Medicine
Guest written by Gillian Levy of Humboldt Apothecary.
The cannabis plant has documented medicinal uses dating back thousands of years across many cultures.
A key component to its efficacy as a healing agent is that cannabis is a medicinal plant which just happens to play a very unique role in our bodies.
Remarkably, it has traits that are similar to modern pharmaceuticals in that it has highly selective targeting. Cannabinoids like THC fit into receptor sites in our endocannabinoid system like a key in a lock, impacting a variety of physiological and cognitive processes in our bodies. More recent studies have confirmed that there are a range of other medicinal plants and spices that interact with the same endocannabinoid receptors to impact our physiology in similar ways.
But medicinal plants are also distinctly different from pharmaceuticals as a form of medicine in that they contain hundreds, if not thousands, of unique constituents that lend themselves to their overall effect and therapeutic value in the human body. The practice of combining different medicinal botanicals in their whole plant form is referred to as “synergy”. The literal meaning of synergy is “working together” but a useful definition is “an effect seen by a combination of substances that is greater than would have been expected from a consideration of individual contributions” (Heinrich et al., 2004). This is in contrast to the pharmaceutical model that frequently focuses on one active constituent that explains the activity of a drug.
Cannabis was used historically in botanical blends for an array of different maladies.
Old recipes and branded cannabis products include remedies for everything from colic for horses and cattle, teething babies, insomnia, to an anti-spasmodic for persistent coughs. Yet in 1937, cannabis prohibition went into effect, and despite strong objections from the American Medical Association, countless products were removed from drugstore shelves (Bridgeman, 2017).
During the 1970s, there were several researchers that studied herbal synergy in cannabis preparations.
In some of these studies, whole plant extracts were determined to be significantly more potent than any single isolated cannabinoid.
The efficacy of whole plant extracts and their synergy frequently points to the terpene compounds that accompany the cannabinoids (Russo, 2011). Terpenes are a diverse group of more than 30,000 different compounds found within plants, and they tend to be present in complex mixtures and exhibit synergistic effects in the human body (Kennedy et al., 2018).
These unique botanical synergies are so complex that there is still little scientific data to explain them appropriately. Yet there are a number of studies that illustrate the efficacy and safety of this form of medicine. And what is particularly remarkable is that they have few of the undesirable side effects often associated with modern drugs.
The use of cannabis and many other common botanical extracts offer gentle solutions to a variety of health complaints.
Thus, it is no wonder that herbal medicine is gaining popularity at an exponential rate, and in places where cannabis is legal and available, it is growing in popularity along a similar trajectory. Now, more than ever in our recent history, there are a number of botanical products that offer consumers the opportunity to support health and wellness in a more holistic way and to make good choices for their bodies that can have lasting and effective results.
Humboldt Apothecary’s formulas are free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. In addition to cannabis extract and coconut oil, their herbal formulas are also made with essential oils like rosemary and basil. These formulations are carefully blended to help with anxiety, stress, and to promote a more positive mood.
Relax CBD: Promotes relief of anxious and stressful feelings; promotes a positive mood. Includes cannabis and Lavender, Basil, Bergamot, and Sweet Orange.
Uplift CBD: Supports nervous system health; promotes the ability to focus and a positive mood. Includes cannabis and Lemon, Rosemary, and Peppermint.
Rest: Promotes restful sleep. Includes cannabis and Lavender, Bergamot, Sweet Marjoram, and Roman Chamomile.