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After 100 years being shunned from the recreational and therapeutic communities thanks to excessive and unjustified governmental intervention, Marijuana is back and is doing better than ever. Not only has the cannabis plant shaken off it’s stereotypical stoner connotation, it has actually completely crossed the threshold from dangerous reefer madness to being respected and utilised for the medicinal power plant that it has always been. Hence the question, Is Marijuana Healthy?
What Exactly is Marijuana Anyway?
The term cannabis or marijuana is really a broad generalisation of a variety of plant which is indigenous to numerous regions around the world. Each region tends to produce a plant which will fall into a sub-category or strain, identical to other widely found plants, each often producing a variation of effect when consumed.
There are in fact three distinct types of marijuana plants: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid Strains. The plants of cannabis indica and cannabis sativa have been around since the 18th century with cannabis hybrid as a new introduction. Hybrid indicates the mixing of seeds from different geographic locations around the world.
A much-revered pastime in cannabis culture is to perfect the growing, harvesting and yield of the plant as well as to experiment with the various flavours that can be produced. This pursuit has been raised to a level of connoisseurship with the educated palate being able to identify the characteristics of a plant due to its flavour, texture and effects on the user. It should be mentioned that most of the marijuana offered is a now a mix of sativa and indica.
The origin is believed to come from the Hindu “Kush” region close to Afghanistan. Anyone who knows anything about marijuana knows that Kush is considered to be strong. In this area of Afghanistan, the strain developed thick coats of resin as a means of protecting themselves against the harsh climatic conditions present. Characteristics of indica include flowering time, yields, the geography of where seeds came from, as well as the various flavours. Some of the Hybrid names given to plants derived from this strain are the well-known Purple Haze and Northern Lights.
The Indica strain noted for its relaxing effect with a focus on cerebral exploration and open mindedness. It can be associated with a more spiritual pursuit of philosophical thinking and contemplation.
Sativa plant is mostly indigenous to the South American region and has adapted to the favourable growing conditions of a warmer and more humid climate. As a result, it is not uncommon to see plants in this strain grow up to 20 feet high possess a narrow structure with loose branches.
In contrast to the Indica strain, the Sativa strain is known to have a more energizing effect on the consumer. Recreationally, it would be recommended to be used in the morning or afternoon when there is a creative task at hand. It is mostly associated with assisting with depression and exhaustion as the effects of Sativa are said to be uplifting and allow you to bring your creative side out.
Some of the more popular flavours of the Sativa strain include Sour Diesel and Lemon Haze.
There are many variables for the two ancient strains which are where hybrid comes in. The seeds of many geographical areas are cross germinated to balance marijuana with both strains. This offers the marijuana user a balance between the two characteristics of each Indica or Sativa, so you get the best of both worlds.
How Does Marijuana Work?
As the legal use of hemp and other cannabis products grows, consumers are becoming more curious about their options. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two natural compounds found in plants of the cannabis genus.
There is understandably a lot of confusion surrounding what is going on with marijuana, especially in this dynamic time of changing levels of legalisation and the distinction between medical and recreational use. When you look into it, it is actually very simple. There are over 80 active chemicals found in cannabis, known as cannabinoids. These include the famous CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
CBD can be extracted from hemp or cannabis. Hemp and cannabis come from the cannabis sativa plant. Legal hemp must contain 0.3 percent THC or less. CBD is sold in the form of gels, gummies, oils, supplements, extracts, and more.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high sensation. Both compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC don’t have the same effects. CBD is psychoactive, just not in the same manner as THC is, but it doesn’t produce the high associated with THC. THC binds with the cannabinoid 1 (cb1) receptors in the brain. It produces a high or sense of euphoria. CBD binds very weakly, if at all, to cb1 receptors. CBD needs THC to bind to the cb1 receptor and, in turn, can help reduce some of the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC, such as euphoria or sedation.
Cannabidiol is a chemical in the cannabis plant generally known as hemp. It is present in both the male and female plants, which are primarily used as an agricultural product revered for its fibres.
As the modern exploration into the medical uses of Cannabidiol have advanced, it has been identified as a treatment most commonly used for seizure disorders such as epilepsy. However, its uses also extend to anxiety, pain, a muscle disorder (dystonia), Parkinson’s disease and crohn disease. It is also known to help with depression.
Cannabidiol has effects on the brain. The exact cause of these effects is not clear. However, cannabidiol seems to prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain that affects pain, mood, and mental function. From a psychiatric point of view, CBD use has also been linked to preventing the breakdown of this chemical and increasing its levels in the blood seems to reduce psychotic symptoms associated with conditions such as schizophrenia.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body.
THC is one of many compounds found in the resin secreted by glands of the marijuana plant. More of these glands are found around the reproductive organs of the plant than on any other area of the plant. For this reason is is predominantly found in its highest concentrations in the female unfertalised plant and The highest concentrations of THC are found in the dried flowers, or buds.
Marijuana’s strength is correlated to the amount of THC it contains and the effects on the user depend on the strength or potency of the THC. Different strains will contain different levels of THC. In general, the THC content in marijuana has been increasing since the 1970s, when it contained roughly 10% THC. In 2015, as reported by live science, researchers from the american chemical society found levels of THC at roughly 30%.
The Medical Uses of Marijuana, Is Marijuana Healthy?
Marijuana use in the medical arena has been found to have beneficial effects in a wide range of previously deemed untreatable ailments. It has also been found to be helpful in a range of areas that were treated with harsh and highly addictive opiate-based options. These following are a few (and some are incredible!)
Slow and/or Stop Cancer Cells
Findings published in a 2007 study by the California Pacific Medical Center confirmed that Cannabidiol has the ability to stop breast cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1 . In addition to this study the the American Association for Cancer Research has found that marijuana slows down tumor growths in brain, breast, and lungs.
In addition to that a further study found that Marijuana can help reduce these side effects for patients who are undergoing Chemo treatment by reducing pain, decreasing nausea, and stirring up the appetite. Finally! Take that Cancer.
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Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found that the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary pathological marker for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly, and with the ever-increasing size of this population, cases of Alzheimer’s disease are expected to triple over the next 50 years. This means that any advances in the areas of prevention or treatment of this disease would have the ability to change millions of lives worldwide.
A 2019 study reports that more than 79% of people with anxiety or sleep problems who took CBD experienced a decrease in anxiety throughout the study. A further study on teenagers with social anxiety supports the findings of CBD significantly decreasing anxiety levels.
Antiseizure Effects (Epilepsy)
CBD has also demonstrated antiseizure effects, which suggests it could be a potential treatment for Epilepsy. A 2017 study cites evidence for the use of CBD to improve seizure control in those with specific epilepsy syndromes. Edibles may be one way to ingest marijuana to reduce seizures. However, more research is necessary before people with epilepsy consider treating the condition with cannabis.
Alleviates Symptoms of Hepatitis C
The treatment for hepatitis c has numerous side effects that include nausea, fatigue, depression, and muscle aches. These can last for months for some hepatitis c sufferers. Cannabis can help reduce the side effects caused by the treatment while making it more effective at the same time.
Pain Relief in Glaucoma
Glaucoma leads to additional pressure on the eyeball which is painful for individuals with the disorder. Cannabis can help reduce the pressure applied to the eyeball providing some temporary relief to individuals with glaucoma.
Control Effects of Autism
Cannabis is known to calm users down and control their mood. It can help children with autism that experience frequent violent mood swings control it.
Pain Management in Multiple Sclerosis
CBD may also work as a pain reliever, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a popular treatment among those who experience chronic pain. Research suggests that medical cannabis patients with chronic pain report improved pain management when they consume marijuana products.
Reduce Tremors in Parkinson’s Disease
Medical marijuana is now legal in Israel and as a result, there is significant research into its medical uses there. One recent study discovered that Marijuana can reduce the pain and tremors for people living with Parkinson’s disease. In addition, the study also noted the unexpected additional benefits to patients of improved sleep and fine motor skills among patients consuming marijuana.
Decrease Symptoms of PTSD
After extensive studies into the therapeutic uses of Marijuana is is confirmed that the naturally occurring cannabinoids in Marijuana, similar to THC, help control the system that causes fear and anxiety in the body and brain. When a person suffering from PTSD consumes these cannabinoids they report a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms.
Reduce the Symptoms of Lupus
Some of the chemicals present in cannabis are able to calm the immune system, which is believed to be the main reason for marijuana helps people suffering with symptoms of Lupus. In addition to this, the additional positive impacts of consuming the plant are its ability to reduce the effects of the pain and nausea inn patients.
Improve Muscle Spasticity
Doctors may also recommend medicinal cannabis for muscle spasm treatment. Research from 2013 indicates that people experience significant improvement in muscle spasticity and other types of pain when they take marijuana.
An oral preparation derived from marijuana is available to treat muscle spasticity and pain. Other forms of edibles may have similar effects, although research in this area is lacking.
Treats Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Individuals with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can find some relief with the use of cannabis. THC and cannabidiol are known to help enhance immune response while also interact with cells that play a vital role in the functioning of the gut. Cannabis helps block off bacteria and other compounds that cause inflammation in the intestines.
Everyday Health Benefits of Using Marijuana
Relief of Chronic Pain
There are hundreds of chemical compounds in cannabis, many of which are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids have been linked to providing relief of chronic pain due to their chemical makeup. Which is why cannabis’ by-product such as medical cannabis is commonly used for chronic pain relief. This can be as simple as people suffering with arthritis or bad backs etc to people who have severe injuries from accidents etc.
Improves Lung Capacity
Unlike smoking cigarettes, when smoking cannabis in the form of cannabis your lungs aren’t harmed. A study found that cannabis helps increase the capacity of the lungs rather than cause any harm to it.
If you look around, you will notice that the avid cannabis user is usually not overweight. That is because cannabis is linked to aiding your body in regulating insulin while managing caloric intake efficiently. So even if you get the hankering for a munchie binge every now and again, your body can better regulate the calorie intake. Totally awesome, dude.
Regulate and Prevent Diabetes
With its impact on insulin, it only makes sense that cannabis can help regulate and prevent diabetes. Research conducted by the american alliance for medical cannabis (aamc) has linked cannabis to stabilize blood sugars, lower blood pressure, and improve blood circulation.
Helps Treat Depression
Depression is fairly widespread without most people even knowing they have it. The endocannabinoid compounds in cannabis can help in stabilizing moods which can ease depression.
Cannabidiol has been linked to helping heal broken bones, quickening the process. According to bone research laboratory in Tel Aviv, it also helps strengthen the bone in the process of healing. This makes it tougher for the bone to break in the future.
Helps with ADHD/ADD
Individuals with ADHD and ADD have trouble focusing on tasks at hand and as a result they tend to have problems with cognitive performance and concentration. Cannabis has shown promise in promoting focus and helping individuals with ADHD/ADD. It is also considered a much safer alternative to current options available Adderall and Ritalin.
While cannabis is commonly known to cause anxiety, there is a way around that. Taken in monitored dosage and in the proper way, cannabis can help alleviate anxiety and calm users down.
The Difference Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana
The main difference between medical cannabis and recreational cannabis is the cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. Recreational marijuana has more THC content than the medicinal marijuana which contains predominantly CBD. While THC is medicinally beneficial, its psychoactive nature is often not desired by users who are exclusively seeking health benefits.
The good news is that if you’re interested in medical cannabis, you don’t need to consume cannabis with a high THC level. There are a wide variety of products legally available everywhere that contain CBD and interestingly, you can also legally purchase traditional marijuana buds to use for medical purposes. These strains offer all the benefits of CBD coupled with the traditional sensation of consuming marijuana as a smoked or cooked product, but without the legal complexity of getting high.
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