Cannabis: Nature’s Game Changer
Cannabis, or marijuana, has been around for thousands of years and has been used as medicine throughout that time. It is one of the safest plants on the planet, when used correctly, and the adverse effects can be treated with other natural plants and herbs, instead of having to take a bunch of pills. There are even ways to use cannabis with non-psychoactive effects. Not one person has ever died from the overconsumption of cannabis; the same can’t be said for peanuts, caffeine or even water.
Cannabis was recognized by the US Pharmacopeia from 1850 to 1942 and was used in a variety of medications, along with being an important part of our history and development. The First President of the U.S. grew fields of cannabis, and cultivation was encouraged by the government during World War II for military supplies. Currently, the U.S. government holds patents for cannabis as medicine, and the FDA has approved synthetic versions of cannabis for medication (ex. Epidiolex, Marinol), which contradicts the Schedule 1 listing that cannabis is currently under. A Schedule 1 narcotic has no medicinal benefits and has a high potential for addiction—that doesn’t fit cannabis at all.
Cannabis is made up of a class of diverse chemical compounds called cannabinoids. There are over 100 known cannabinoids, but the most common are Δ9-THC and CBD. Cannabinoids act on receptors in a system that all humans/mammals contain, the endocannabinoid system. This system was discovered in 1992, and has been scientifically showing how cannabis works as medicine. There are endocannabinoid receptors in our central nervous system/brain (CB1) and immune system (CB2), and we keep discovering more as research progresses.
The cannabinoids bind to these receptors and try to activate homeostasis throughout the different systems. There are even videos on the internet showing cannabinoids attacking mutated cancer cells and causing apoptosis (cell death). However, that was with injecting the cannabinoids directly into the affected cells/tumors of lab animals. Researchers are currently waiting for approval to move on to the next phase of testing, but there is enough research out there to show the many medicinal benefits of this plant.
There are multiple ways to consume cannabis and the effects differ. Inhalation by smoking or vaporizing is the most common way to consume cannabis, and it is one of the methods that has the quickest effects, which are instantaneous. Some people don’t want to inhale the plant, and that is understandable, but it does have its benefits and there are ways to safely inhale cannabis, like vaporizing, which has a low risk of adverse effects. Inhalation has been shown to bring activity to the CB1 receptors in our CNS and offer relief for a variety of ailments—physical, mental and neurological—but the effects do not last as long as some of the other methods of consumption (1 to 3 hours).
Ingesting cannabis in the form of edibles, tinctures, capsules or elixirs has shown to be the method with the longest acting effects (4 to 8 hours). This method can take 30 to 45 minutes to take effect. Also, it can be a lot easier for a person to overconsume when ingesting cannabis, so it is recommended to start with a low dose to see how the body reacts to the plant.
Cannabis topicals like lotions, balms and patches offer amazing relief, and this is the only method for localized pain relief. All other methods disperse throughout the body, whereas topicals can be applied directly to the affected area. Topicals are also a great way to use the cannabis in a non-psychoactive form, and the results can last for hours to days.
There are also cannabis suppositories. Suppositories have been shown to have no psychoactive effects and is the only method that allows a person to take hundreds of milligrams of Δ9-THC without feeling any psychoactive effects. Some patients can’t eat 10mg of Δ9-THC because the effects are too strong, but they can take 700+mg in suppository form. This method of consumption is recommended by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who helped discover the endocannabinoid system and was the first doctor to isolate and identify Δ9-THC and CBD in 1964. He believes that this method allows high intake of the cannabinoids with low risks, and it has been shown to bring relief for different types of ailments—even certain cancers.
CBD has been popularized recently and it has amazing medicinal effects for inflammation, anxiety, depression, tremors and more. It is also recommended to incorporate a full spectrum of cannabinoids, which activates an “entourage effect”. This will give optimal relief from all the cannabinoids.
David Yrigoyen is the owner of Natural Healing Care Center, where he does Cannabis Consulting/Coaching. If you are interested in learning more about cannabis as an alternative, or if you would like to obtain your Arizona Medical Marijuana Card, contact Natural Healing Care Center, in Tucson. Their physicians and Cannabis Specialists can help answer any questions and point you in the right direction to increase your quality of life. Connect at 520-323-0069. See ad, page 34.